Overcoming hurdles for innovation in industrial biotechnology in Europe Finland Workshop Report

Overcoming hurdles for innovation in industrial biotechnology in Europe Finland Workshop Report

Main topic: Regional profiles
Document / search engine: Overcoming hurdles for innovation in industrial biotechnology in Europe Finland Workshop Report
Framework project: The Industrial Biotech Research and Innovation Platforms Centre - towards Technological Innovation and solid foundations for a growing industrial biotech sector in Europe
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Website link: http://industrialbiotech-europe.eu/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Finland-Workshop-Report.pdf
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The fourth BIO-TIC regional workshop was held at the Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, Finland on 3rd October 2013 and brought together 18 experts to discuss the potential for IB, to identify hurdles and enablers, and to suggest novel mechanisms by which IB uptake could be facilitated in the Nordic region. Reflecting the long history of Finland in forestry, some bio-based sectors (e.g. enzymes and biofuels), research and engineering, the participants considered feedstock availability, logistics and technical know-how as the main regional strengths. On the other hand, the main weaknesses were identified to be related to business development and to two interlinked themes – cost competitiveness issues and the lack of supporting policies to stimulate market demand.
With regard to market development, the experts emphasised

  • identification of local strengths (high value added products utilising local raw materials)
  • support for innovative start-ups and SMEs
  •  need for investment (both domestic and foreign), and
  •  creation of an operational environment that does not depend on subsidies

In R&D, the participants called for:

  • closing the gap between basic and applied research
  •  reduction of production costs by more efficient downstream and recovery technologies
  •  technologies for specialty products
  • tree breeding and optimisation of feedstock utilisation

In the area of feedstock and policy, the participants called for:

  • developing agriculture and forestry into a business and thus ensuring the availability and cost-efficient production of local feedstocks
  • identification of waste based feedstocks and consequent development of recycling systems
  • clarification and stability of regulations and rules on the definition of waste, calculation of emission reductions, and biomass certification

A wide range of mechanisms by which the IB industry could be further promoted in Finland were suggested and discussed within the workshop. Several actions to reduce the cost of biomass so that it could be effectively used in IB processes were discussed including mobilization of forest biomass, increasing the amount of agricultural residues and waste biomass collected, and improving logistics, for example through biomass terminals. Support for demo and flagship projects, combined with a stable long term and market sensible policies can help develop new technologies and provide more support for businesses. Enhancing cooperation between academia and industry could be addressed through mechanisms such as new project models focusing on entire value chains from feedstocks to final products. These would bring together relevant stakeholders but exclude competing companies to avoid the risk of conflict of interests. In general, it was felt that the Finnish IB industry would be better placed to focus on fine chemicals and niche markets rather than bulk commodity products.

Countries/regions described/represented: Finland
Year: 2014