Finland in pursuit of new heights with bioeconomy

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Bioeconomy is currently high on political and economic agendas both in Finland and elsewhere. Bioeconomy is part of the sixth wave of economy, where resource efficiency and sustainable use of natural resources act as technological, economic and social drivers. Bioeconomy involves the use of renewable natural resources to reduce the use of fossil fuels. This also boosts economic growth and creates new jobs, new businesses and well-being for citizens. However, renewable natural resources need to be used sparingly and recycled efficiently and wisely.

What does bioeconomy mean to Finland?

Actually, bioeconomy is nothing new in Finland, but this “second coming” enables the Finnish economy to reach new heights. Finland’s wealth of natural resources (we have the fourth highest per-capita biocapacity in the world) has always been the foundation of our economy.

The Finnish forest industry has, over the course of its history, also demonstrated an excellent ability to reinvent itself with inventions ranging from sulphite spirit, wood gasifiers and xylitol to cutting-edge automated paper production processes.  At the moment, Finnish forestry companies are working on products such as biofuels and nanocellulose. It appears that through bioeconomy our forest industry will once again lift Finland from the depths of recession. Good examples of this are the recent investment news we have heard from the forest industry, which, once implemented, will create new jobs also in other sectors, such as mechanical engineering.

Global demand drives Finland’s bioeconomy

Finland has already made good progress in bioeconomy. We even have a whole host of businesses that already perform well on the global market. There is nevertheless still room to improve the way we make sustainable use of bioeconomy.  Rapidly growing global demand for biomass is making the market increasingly competitive. In order to succeed, Finnish businesses need to learn to take advantage of their strengths and competitiveness boldly, shrewdly and forsaking unnecessary modesty. There is growing demand for energy, food and clean water across the world. This demand will create markets for the future, where Finnish technology together with clever use and processing of our natural resources can create new solutions while enabling growth and well-being at home.

Finland’s recently published national bioeconomy strategy names increasing the turnover of Finland’s bioeconomy from the current EUR 60 billion to a whopping EUR 100 billion by 2025 as one of its objectives. The goal is ambitious but not impossible. Reaching the goal requires prioritisation, new sources of venture capital and investment in innovation as well as transdisciplinary, cross-cutting excellence. Finland’s priorities are based on our strengths, which include technological development, process know-how and highly skilled and experienced staff.

Cooperation is key to competitive solutions

Research and development are vital for the creation of innovations, new sharp spearheads for growth and new business as well as renewal of industries. As Finland’s leading technology and innovation organisation, VTT has a unique opportunity to show its strengths. We have been actively involved in formulating Finland’s bioeconomy strategy both in terms of research and development and in terms of foresight and future visions. This is demonstrated by our newly published vision of how Finnish society could live in the era of bioeconomy in 2044.

Finland is a small country and we can only come up with global killer solutions by pooling our resources. However, cooperation needs to go beyond words and speeches – we need to take action. This requires commitment and a lot of effort from everyone. Building links between businesses, research organisations and decision-makers is an integral part of VTT’s work and especially close to our hearts. Join us in our quest to turn our national bioeconomy vision into reality and Finnish bioeconomy into a success story!

 Anne-Christine Ritschkoff

 Executive Vice President

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