Finland is famous for its forests and thriving wood-based industries. Finland is Europe’s most heavily forested country with 86% of its land area – 23 million hectares – under forest cover. In fact, Finland’s historical development into one of the world’s most prosperous countries is to a great degree based on our ability to utilize this renewable natural resource, our green gold. Today Finland’s innovative and dynamic forest industry cluster consists of more than 50 pulp and paper mills and over 240 other production sites for wood products. The biggest Finnish forest industry companies are global players and lead the development and production of new, higher value added bio-based products.
Today in a guest post from foreign direct investment and trade promotion agency Finpro we focus on the wide variety of new bio-economy business opportunities that exist in the country. These myriad developments are based on smart exploitation of biomasses and high added value products and services. Growth is supported by the nation’s favourable operating environment and policy actions. It is estimated that up till 2025, the Finnish bio-economy could experience an annual growth rate of some 4%. This equals an increase from the present EUR 60 billion to EUR 100 billion.
Bio-chemicals: The cornerstone is to secure the competitiveness of the existing industries and to provide them with a favourable setting in which to operate and grow. More than one out of three chemical industry companies operating in Finland are already using bio-based raw materials, and studies indicate an increase in this figure. The major chemical producers such as Arizona Chemical, CP Kelco, Forchem, Neste Oil (left) Kemira and ST1 focus strongly on bio-based raw materials and processes.
The chemical industry plays a key role for many of the new bio-economy value networks, as it manufactures intermediate products and chemicals for further use. The chemical industry has the required expertise and infrastructures, and it is already operating in a similar market. R&D in biochemical area is on globally high level in Finland. Manufacturing processes for platform chemicals and bio-based drop-in chemicals have been developed in laboratory scale and are available for upscaling when industrial interest appears.
Biofuels: Biofuel technology and production is the other strong area and it is growing rapidly. Particularly the use of wood-based transport biofuels has been raising its profile in Finland. While the major forest and energy companies such as UPM, Neste Oil and St1 are leading the development, medium-sized and startup companies operate as specialists in the biogas and liquid biofuel ecosystems. The estimated annual revenue for biofuels in Finland currently stands at 5 billion EUR.
New biomaterials for construction industries, health sector, consumer goods etc.: The industrial exploitation of wood-based biomass is significantly diversified. In addition to traditional forest products, wood is used in innovative high added value fiber products and various new products made from wood ingredients. The new product areas are to some extent based on forest industry, while the current boundaries between sectors are disappearing, enabling the creation of new value networks. Various combinations of process chemistry and bio and nano technologies give rise to completely new production technologies and biomaterials. New start up companies like Paptic – manufacturer of fibre based substitutes for plastic bags (pictured above right) , Spinnova – manufacturer of textile yarns directly from wood pulp, Metgen – manufacturer of tailored industrial enzymes, Betulium – developer of manufacturing process for fibrillated cellulose from agricultural raw material sources, Lumir – producer of natural fiber based blowable acoustic insulation and Swanheart design – developer of wood fiber based, easily installable Wall+ panels - and several other companies like Plasthill, Infinited Fiber Company, Vapo Fibers, Sellusta Finland, Repolar, Naviter, Forest of Lapland etc. develop and commercialize new technologies and products based on Finnish innovations.
Research & Development & Innovation: In the future, Finland continues to invest heavily in bio-economy research and development. E.g. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland facility called Bioruukki supports bio-economy and cleantech research and aims to accelerate the commercialization of bio-economy innovations in the areas of bioenergy, bio-chemicals, fractioning of biomass and recycling. Bioruukki infrastructures are developed together with Aalto Bio-economy, which contains the selected research infrastructures for development of chemicals, fuels, fibre products and materials from renewable biomass. A special feature in the development work is combination of globally top level appreciated design expertise of Aalto ARTS School of arts design to VTT’s material development skills - this combination further strengthens Finland´s top level position in future development of innovative bio-based materials and products.
FINPRO: Finpro helps Finnish SMEs go international, encourages foreign direct investment in Finland and promotes travel to Finland. Finpro’s almost 300 professionals work in 36 Trade Centers in 31 countries and 6 offices in Finland. Finpro ( @ ) manages almost 40 significant Growth Programs. Through the Growth Programs, Finpro helps hundreds of Finnish companies enter the international market and attracts investments from around the world to Finland. Innovative bioproducts is one of the newest programs, it focuses on helping the companies in the field of bio-economy, especially in the field of bio-products to grow internationally. Contact the growth program team to guide you further - Program manager: Pia Qvintus firstname.lastname@example.org, +358505634129 and Program coordinator: Kukka-Maaria Hietamies, email@example.com, +35850 407 3048.
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