From the perspective of the Finnish forest sector, the research proposal released by the EU Commission last week is weighted favourably. The Commission is proposing a record €70-billion research budget for 2007-2013. In addition to EU funding, the research necessary for boosting the forest sector’s competitiveness will require allocations in national spending and investment from companies operating in the industry.
“The EU research programme emphasises the exploitation of renewable natural resources and energy sources as well as control of climate change. The forest products sector is in a very strong position to provide solutions to these issues,” says Päivi Luoma, Manager, EU research policy at the Finnish Forest Industries Federation.
The development of new manufacturing techniques, nanotechnology and nanomaterials are included in the Commission’s proposed research programme. Nanotechnology could be used to make the surfaces of paper machines cleaner, improve the interaction between printing ink and the surface of the paper being printed on and reduce the use of chemicals. Nanoapplications could also change building with wood with new technical solutions.
The EU research programme provides exciting possibilities of interest to both the forest sector and the information and communication technology sectors. Research results could be applied to the development of packaging made of intelligent paper or cardboard. A smart package like this would keep retailers informed about best before dates, for example. Food manufacturers could monitor the transport and freshness of their products with the aid of these packages.
Päivi Luoma says the Finnish forest sector’s research efforts are focused on similar areas of emphasis as the Commission’s research programme. “Upcoming Finnish research ventures will concentrate on strengthening the competitive advantages of print communications, energy consumption, new systems and concepts for building with wood and the products of tomorrow, such as electronic paper, ecological merchandise and nanotechnology."
The proposed strategic research plan for the European forest sector will be completed in November. Finnish ideas will have a significant influence on the content of the proposal. The final decision on the research programme and its funding will be made by the European Parliament and the member states next year.
Manager, EU Policy, Finnish Forest Industries Federation
Tel. +358 9 132 6626, firstname.lastname@example.org
Research manager, Finnish Forest Industries Federation
Project secretary, Forest-based Sector Technology Platform
Tel. +358 9 132 6622, email@example.com
A European Technology Platform is a new operating model for the industry that was developed by the Commission. The aim is to strengthen Europe’s competitiveness in accordance with Lisbon objectives.
The Forest-Based Sector Technology Platform has defined a vision for the industry in 2030: the European forest sector will be of central importance to a society that is founded on the principles of sustainable development. European industry will exploit renewable forest resources in a wide variety of ways and its competence and competitiveness keep it successful.