Project to separate pulp fact from pulp fiction

Published: 4 January 2016 at 11:47

Logging truck in Salo, Finland

Anglia Ruskin researchers work on project to help transform Finland's wood pulp industry

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Professor Teemu Kautonen and Dr Greg O’Shea from Anglia Ruskin University’s Institute for International Management Practice (IIMP) are working for Aalto University School of Business in Helsinki on a research project for the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation to examine potential new business opportunities for the country’s wood pulp industry.

The research project entitled "Design Driven Value Chains in the World of Cellulose" or DWOC is a multidisciplinary research collaboration project focused on finding new and innovative applications for cellulosic materials.

The forest industry is one of the largest sectors of Finland’s economy.  It accounts for approximately 20% of the country’s export revenue and in 2013 forest industry production was worth €20.7 billion. Cellulose is a biodegradable natural product and is already used in the food industry, in textiles and in medicine.

Other key partners in the project are the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT), Aalto University's School of Chemical Technology, Aalto University's School of Design and Architecture, Tampere University of Technology and The University of Vaasa's Faculty of Business Studies. The total budget for the project is about €7m from which the business research within which the IIMP researchers are working is about €900,000 (approximately £650,000).

The project started in 2013 and will run through to March 2018. The goal of the project is to make Finland the source of value-added cellulosic products and business concepts and to accelerate the transformation of the current large-scale forest industry into a dynamic ecosystem for the bioeconomy containing both large and small-scale businesses.

The IIMP researchers, alongside their colleagues from Aalto University and the University of Vaasa, will explore the commercial opportunities derived from Finnish scientific research into new uses for cellulose, which is produced from wood pulp. The researchers will help science and design partners collaborate, as well as advance entrepreneurship and the creation of new start-ups by advising and supporting fresh business concepts and models.

Dr O’Shea, Senior Research Fellow in Anglia Ruskin's IIMP, said:

“In addition to producing a number of research papers, this project will see us also advise on and support the development of the new Finnish cellulose business ecosystem.  

“We will help start-ups, already existing SMEs and scientific spinoffs with support around funding, business models and any intellectual property rights challenges they may face.

“We will also create a small company business manual for entrepreneurs interested in working within the Finnish cellulose business ecosystem.

“Due to its abundance and biodegradability, new methods of using cellulose have become a major topic of research in Finland. The combination of recyclability and new end-use opportunities makes cellulose a real super material of the future.”