Forestcluster Ltd’s research portfolio leans towards new products and technologies, biorefineries and customer solutions

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The research continues in ongoing programmes that focus on intelligent and resource-efficient production technologies, future biorefineries, tomorrow’s customer solutions as well as efficient networking towards novel products and processes, and generating value through intensive and efficient fibre supply.

The objective is to develop new fibre-based products and increase the utility value of domestic wood raw material

“EffTech (Intelligent and Resource-Efficient Production Technologies) was the first research programme to launch; it has lead to the establishment of a new paper manufacturing research environment, which was taken into use at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland facility in Jyväskylä this September. It was created to facilitate the development of new fibre-based products and their production processes," says Christine Hagström-Näsi, Managing Director of Forestcluster Ltd.

"The research environment makes it easier to develop, for example, suitable raw material and chemicals concepts as well as enhance the energy and raw material efficiency of existing processes. SMEs can also benefit from the research environment’s operating model because they can actively participate in R&D activities alongside major industry corporations.”

This programme also prompted Forestcluster Ltd to launch two new research programmes that deal with resource-efficient production technologies. These programmes are valued at €26 million over the next three-year period, and a broad group of forest cluster corporations and some of the leading institutions in forest-related research are participating in them.

The Value Through Intensive and Efficient Fibre Supply (EffFibre) programme focuses on improving the competitiveness and quality of domestic wood raw material as well as on the development of radical new production technologies for chemical pulp.

The Efficient Networking Towards Novel Products and Processes (EffNet) programme concentrates on the development of radically new energy- and resource-efficient production technologies for web-like products as well as on the design of nanocellulose-based production concepts and new products.

Creating customer solutions for the future by combining technology with business development
 
“The Customer Solutions for the Future programme joins technology with the development of business operations. The aim of this eighteen-month programme is to identify new growth opportunities outside the forest cluster’s existing business operations. Seven teams of researchers from Aalto University, University of Helsinki, Stockholm School of Economics and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland surveyed, among other things, consumers needs in developing countries, packaging-related value nets, the forest cluster’s business competence and the media behaviour of young people during the first phase of the RAMI (RAdical Market Innovations) project,” says Hagström-Näsi.

“In the summer, experts from different fields got together in the spirit of open innovation and started to develop the research findings of these studies into ideas with commercial potential. We now have 147 preliminary business ideas, which will be processed further into a few broader follow-up projects this autumn," Hagström-Näsi says.

"We will also consider ways with which we can pass on ideas, which are not of direct interest to our owners, to existing companies or start-ups that could develop them into viable business activities. Towards the end of the year, we will hopefully be communicating about new company-specific or joint development projects that have come about as a result of the next phase.”

Future Biorefinery programme developing new materials out of wood and wood fibres

The Future Biorefinery programme develops new wood and wood-fibre materials as well as methods for their manufacture. Promising results have been achieved in wood fractioning, and the developed new technology is being patented. The programme has also provided a framework for new kinds of cooperation. Working together, chemists, biochemists and medical researchers have identified wood ingredients that are promising source materials for the manufacture of pharmaceuticals.

The programme launched in spring 2009 and will move onto the next phase in spring 2011. Long-term research will continue, in addition to which its most promising findings will be taken forward in projects that will focus on complete value nets. So far, three such value nets have been identified: new cellulose-based products, refining hydroxy acids into new products and organic protective treatment of wood products.
 
Forestcluster Ltd’s ongoing research programmes are:

  • Intelligent and Resource-Efficient Production Technologies,
  • Efficient Networking Towards Novel Products and Processes,
  • Value Through Intensive and Efficient Fibre Supply,
  • Future Biorefinery, and
  • Customer Solutions for the Future.

Forestcluster Ltd’s annual research expenditure comes to a little more than €20 million. Through its research programmes, Forestcluster Ltd implements the common research strategy of the Finnish forest cluster. The starting point for the creation of the present research portfolio was the 2006 research strategy, which has now been updated.

For more information, please contact:

Christine Hagström-Näsi, CEO, Forestcluster Ltd., tel. +358 50 322 2401

Lars Gädda, CTO, Forestcluster Ltd., tel. +358 50 322 2471