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VTT expects Bioeconomy to be an investment for future growth

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
The bioeconomy is the global economy’s next wave. It’s not a new industry, but a combination of several industries. That’s why the bioeconomy leans on a multidisciplinary approach and a strong scientific base.

Science and research play a key role in a successful bioeconomy. Scientific excellence paves the way for the emergence of innovations and new businesses.

Economic growth comes from thinking and doing things differently, and science creates new ways of thinking. The era of copying others is over; now it is essential that we innovate and become trailblazers and pioneers. This means a shift away from our comfort zone, approaching things from a different angle and finding innovative solutions to challenges.

VTT’s innovations impact on bioeconomy turnover

VTT has a scientific but also market-oriented  role in the R&I field. Studies into the influence of VTT´s R&I activities on the turnover of companies have shown a significant increase in the cases where VTT has been strongly involved in the companies’ innovation process. The turnover of the most important export companies has risen 26% following the development of innovations where VTT has had a significant role*.

The same trend can be seen in the number of employees in companies in the bioeconomy sector. Thus, it can be clearly stated that spending on R&I is not a cost but an investment. However, we have estimated that the turnover of some bioeconomy companies has increased by as much as 73% since they developed innovations where VTT has had a significant role*. 

A successful bioeconomy requires a multidisciplinary approach combining a range of disciplines, from chemistry, biotechnology and nanotechnology to electronics and information and computer technology. All these technologies are at the heart of VTT and the added value for the bioeconomy is based on the scientific and multidisciplinary approach. Expertise is required to understand the market dynamics and business concepts. Innovation accelerates business in the bioeconomy.

*) Source: Estimate is based on the SFINNO innovation database, which includes 5,000 innovations that were commercialised between 1945 and 2009, and on R&D expenditure in 2012 from Statistics Finland.

Bioeconomy is a boost for society

The bioeconomy is based on the sustainable use of renewal resources in a society which is no longer wholly dependent on fossil fuels for  energy. The bioeconomy is not a new industry; it is a combination of several industrial sectors and end product markets. It is justifiably referred to as the global economy’s next wave.

The global drivers, such as decreasing oil dependency and mitigation of climate change, are also critical drivers for the Finnish bioeconomy.  The main goals of the Finnish bioeconomy are the creation of new jobs and improving the trade balance through the renewal of Finnish forest industries and agro businesses, as well as the creation of new growth-intensive SMEs. Both the rapid generation of new business and the regeneration of existing sectors is vital for the Finnish bioeconomy. 

Finnish bioeconomy is based on forests

Currently the bioeconomy’s share of the Finnish national economy is high. The output of the Finnish bioeconomy is around EUR 60 billion, providing more than 300,000 jobs in the sector, and its share of exports is 26%. Finland seeks to increase its bioeconomy output to 100 billion euros by 2025 and to create 100,000 new jobs in the process. About half of Finland’s bioeconomy consists of the forest bioeconomy. In Europe, the bioeconomy is already worth more than two trillion euros annually and will continue to grow quickly.

VTT’s goals in the bioeconomy are aligned with national goals. VTT focuses on value creation through scientific excellence and breakthrough innovations. VTT’s research activities includes plant-based foods, novel web-based fibre products, bio-based performance chemicals, packaging materials and products, and biofuels and energy. VTT is aiming for a generation of new value chains and business opportunities through the networking industry and academia, and by providing demonstration and piloting facilities and services.

Bioeconomy sector: The company turnover growth correlation with VTT’s role in innovation cooperation.

VTT´s facts and figures

The bioeconomy covers 24% of VTT’s annual turnover, 600 man-year brainpower. VTT serves more than 200 key customers in the area. VTT produces 180 scientific, peer-reviewed articles annually and a myriad of other publications. VTT has more than 140 patent families in the field.

> Anne-Christine Ritschkoff
(Published in HighTech Finland 2015)