Focus on sustainability – FinnCERES at the core of EU innovation policy

Katariina Torvinen presenting “Going Beyond the Circular Economy – New Sustainable Materials for Non-Wovens and Hygienic Applications ” at EDANA OUTLOOK 2019 in Athens.
Left to right: Ioannis Hatzopoulos (Procter & Gamble), Enrico Dolce (FaterSMART AHP Recycling BU), Katariina Torvinen (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland) and Annemie Andries (OVAM). Photo by EDANA.

“The times they are a-changin’…” for European innovation policy, and the new framework is being defined. The FinnCERES ecosystem has a lot to offer to European innovation networks.

The new framework programme, Horizon Europe, will transform the innovation landscape in Europe. There will be a strong focus on sustainability and a shift towards individual consumers and citizens. This brings along a growing need for multidisciplinary approaches that combine social sciences and technology. While the structure of the framework is almost finished, the details and the content are underway.

FinnCERES has great potential to provide solutions for future material innovation markets. Sustainability is our main priority, and we want to tackle global challenges with innovative forest-based materials. We are creating renewable, recyclable, and biodegradable future materials that help achieve European goals.

VTT and our top-level experts participate in different high-influence stakeholder forums, which means that the FinnCERES ecosystem and its research topics are also strongly present in relevant groups. This is our chance to contribute to the European Strategic Research and Innovations agendas. Future calls for research applications will be mostly based on these agendas.

Our contributions are related to circular economy, including recyclable materials and biodegradable solutions. Agro-based materials have a big presence on the EU agenda, and it is important to make sure that Northern forestry biomaterials are not left out. Another example among FinnCERES research topics that are attracting a lot of interest in Europe is our work on creating solutions inspired by nature. Most probably there will be several future collaboration possibilities in this fascinating research field. Furthermore, we will emphasize the opportunities of existing infrastructures and pilot environments, and the need to make better and wider use of them at the EU level.

The transformation of the European innovation landscape influences future public-private partnerships. Current ones are about to end, and new ones are under construction. Open consultation rounds are ongoing, and we must be active and give our input to be part of these partnerships.

Europe is our home market, and the FinnCERES ecosystem empowers Finland to utilize future European funding instruments and networks. Our common goals and shared interests provide a fertile breeding ground for our contributions and for future cooperation. Now it is really time to be active and make sure our message gets through as widely as possible.