FinnCERES is a biomaterials competence cluster jointly operated by Aalto University and VTT with the aim of developing new materials especially based on lignocellulose, or forest biomass. The materials can be utilised both in everyday living and in industry: in textiles, packaging, air and water purification systems, energy storage systems, and many other things. The Academy of Finland has granted a EUR 9.5 million flagship funding for the first four years of the project. An extension funding for the next four-year period will be based on an interim evaluation. The total funding of the project is EUR 24 million.
The event was hosted by FinnCERESin PIs, Research Professor Kristiina Kruus, VTT and Professor Orlando Rojas, Aalto University. Kruus will take the position of Dean of the Aalto University School of Chemical Engineering in December 2018. She will be replaced as the second PI of FinnCERES by Tekla Tammelin, a leading researcher at VTT.
At the event Aalto University President Ilkka Niemelä and VTT President & CEO Antti Vasara emphasised the importance of persevering cooperation both between Aalto and VTT and with companies. Through top research, cooperation, and passion, FinnCERES can find solutions to climate change and resource sufficiency. Ilkka Niemelä said that he is especially waiting for solutions to the microplastics problem. Antti Vasara is interested in the possible applications of cellulose in electronics.
Kruus, Rojas and VTT Vice President of Research Tiina Nakari-Setälä spoke about the ecosystem of forest biomaterials and the prospects it offers. The goal of FinnCERES is to give rise to new technology, startups, and products, among other things. Rojas said that the goals are ambitious, but with them Finland can climb to the top of the world in the material bioeconomy – it is already one of the best.
Aalto Distinguished Professor Olli Ikkala spoke at the event about bio-based materials and their technical feasibility. He described how wood can be processed even into a bulletproof material. Several other researchers were also on the spot and pitched interesting research topics, and there was also a possibility to see and touch various products made from bio-based materials.
The purpose of the Industry Meets FinnCERES event was to open a discussion with representatives of industry on the kind of cooperation they could engage in with FinnCERES – how it is possible to go from fundamental research via cooperation, to industrial applications and innovations. Presenting various options at the event was Alina Ruonala-Lindgren, Co-Creation Manager at VTT. Cooperation can involve, for example, top-level research into biomaterials, the scaling up of processes and concepts, and the creation of a completely new kinds of knowledge and skills. At the end of the event ideas about different forms of collaboration were discussed in a panel discussion in which themes included new forms of collaboration, flexibility, and possibilities for networking.
“Already the fact that so many industry representatives took part in the event indicates that interest in FinnCERES and possible collaboration is great”, Ruonala-Lindgren says.“We had a very active discussion on how companies can participate and be a part of this ecosystem. Dialogue will continue, and we will develop and shape various forms of cooperation.”
FinnCERES Flagship Manager, Aalto University
FinnCERES Flagship Manager, VTT
Co-Creation Manager, VTT