The research projects of forest cluster organisations have received funding to the tune of some €325 million for the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). The funding is divided between some 90 projects, 18 of which have been under Finnish coordination.
It is no coincidence that FP7 corresponds to the needs of the forest cluster so well. Finnish organisations have been very active in the preparations for the European Forest-Based Sector Technology Platform (FTP) as well as in the drafting of its research programme. The European Commission, which decides on research funding, has held the activities of the FTP in high regard and this has helped in the initiation of projects considered important by the cluster.
“The most important next step is to take advantage of the work that has already been done. Forest cluster companies should cooperate with research institutions and submit more applications for research projects that are essential to the sector. FP7 was launched in 2007 and it will continue until 2013. The amount of funding on offer through the Framework Programme is increasing every year,” says Research & Development Coordinator Markku Lehtonen of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation.
The forest-based sector has done considerably better than other sectors in securing funding through FP7. The contents of funded projects have varied greatly, ranging from biofuel and biorefinery projects and wood-based materials sciences to studies of wood procurement, paper manufacturing technology and its development. The previous, Sixth Framework Programme (2002-06) funded 35 forest cluster projects to the tune of €120 million.