Today in a special feature we focus on forest-rich Finland, which as regular readers of Bio-Based World News will know, is an innovative bio-economy powerhouse that offers attractive licensing, partnership and investment opportunities. Finland’s bio-economy is currently worth some EUR 60 billion. The Finnish Bioeconomy Strategy launched by the Finnish government in 2014 is aiming to almost double its value by the year 2025. One of the means to achieve this growth is to bring together small and medium-sized companies that are developing new, high added value products from Finnish biomass. The Finnish bio-economy is built on the country’s strong forest industry tradition, including long-term biomass research and utilization of wood fiber. Finland’s extensive forest resources, covering more than 80% of its land area, are the renewable green gold of the nation. About 60% of the value of Finland’s bio-economy comes from the forest industry. In addition to providing plentiful wood for cellulose production, the forests are also a valuable source of berries and plants with antioxidants and extracts that have many uses.
“The Finnish forest has proved to be an incredibly versatile source of raw material for new bio-products ranging from health care to construction, and everything in between.” says Pia Qvintus, Program Director, Finpro.
Innovative products and technologies offer new opportunities
Finland’s dynamic bio-economy and its diverse, highly innovative companies offer attractive opportunities for licensing, international partnerships and investment. Examples of exciting new technologies and products based on Finnish innovations include the following:
- Revolutionary new material made from sustainable wood fiber to replace plastic as a packing material, its first market application being replacement of plastic bags
- Sustainable textile fibres produced directly from wood pulp or recycled cotton rich textiles
- Innovative fibre-based applications that can be used in construction or for finishing indoor surfaces, such as a sprayed acoustical coating that improves acoustics by reducing reverberation, or easily installable, lightweight fibre-based wall panels that can be customized with unique patterns
In addition to these fibre-based applications, there are also companies refining extracts from the Finnish nature, trees, berries and plants for use in skin care, cosmetics and nutritional supplements.
Research and design drive cellulose ecosystem transformation
Many Finnish bio-products are already on the market but further R&D on the new innovations is continuing actively. One of the most ambitious research themes is the use of cellulose in new material development in a design-driven way. The concept is based on the unique combination of design-driven prototyping with strong technology development competence. The latter has traditionally been the key asset of the Finnish forest industry, which has been focused on B2B commerce with cost-efficient production technologies.
The concept is also visualized in the wider context of Finland’s long, world-class research tradition in the field of cellulose as polymer, fibre and material, and applications thereof, as well the integral role of Finnish design in the nation’s industrial design heritage. By combining its twin strengths in research and design, the Finnish cellulose ecosystem can reach a globally competitive position in the future. The goal is to make Finland the source of value-added cellulosic products and business concepts and to accelerate the transformation of the current large-scale forest industry into a dynamic ecosystem for the bio-economy, containing both large and small-scale businesses.
Some of the most interesting new Finnish biomaterials can be explored in the exhibition The New Biomateriality Lab at the Design Museum in Helsinki, which is open until 22 October 2017.
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