Research, development, and innovations reinforce future competitiveness

For the forest industry to be successful it not only needs to improve its profitability but to also evolve and develop innovations. The future opportunities of the Finnish forest industry are influenced by companies’ and the industry’s own actions as well as via measures taken by the public authorities. Public support and systems are needed to foster expertise in Finland as well as to realise and back riskier ventures.

In 2010-2015, forest industry companies spent approximately EUR 596 million on research and development. In addition to research and development related to products and customer service, production process development work is carried out in connection with the forest industry’s machinery and equipment investments, and investments are made into optimising, for example, the efficiency of raw material and product logistics via digitalisation. The companies also consider R&D functions that focus on developing entirely new business to be extremely important.

Experts, companies, and investments are drawn to where conditions are best for their operations. Finland has excellent knowledge about wood and about processing wood for various purposes. Finland can hold on to its position as the industry’s leading research and development environment, also by international standards, but this requires persistent work in continually developing the innovation environment as well as sufficient allocation of resources.

The funding of innovation activities and support for growth entrepreneurship require not only close co-operation between industry and the research world, for example, universities and research institutions, but also functional societal instruments. Together the public sector and business must create the prerequisites for broad and persistent innovation policy, ensure the international competitiveness of our innovation environment, as well as promote the birth and adoption of innovations.

Universities and colleges are defining their strategic profile and strengthening their international standing in terms of both education and research. Companies that are evolving and developing new ideas seek collaboration with universities that are internationally significant. That is why universities must boldly select which fields of expertise to focus on and channel funding accordingly. Universities must also work closely together.

Forest sector research is also strengthened by the joint research companies CLIC Innovation Ltd and Metsäteho Ltd. Joint research and development activities focus on pre-competitive fields – on mutual projects between parties that are interested in the same research topics.