Tekes gives the Cleantech sector a boost and develops new bio-economy business

The funder of innovation, Tekes, regards the national Cleantech strategy as a positive sign of Finland's industrial renewal. Through its programmes, Tekes has supported projects in the area of the bio-economy for several years.

The Council of State today approved the national Cleantech strategy which points the way for Finland to develop into one of the world's leading countries in clean technology. This is an important objective with regard to Finland's success: Cleantech is a field that is forecast to grow dramatically over the next few years. The drivers for the growth in clean technology is regulation aimed at mitigating climate change, the scarcity of energy and natural resources, as well as the growing environmental awareness of consumers.

Finnish companies have already seized on the opportunities offered by clean technology which can also be seen in the companies to whom Tekes has awarded funding. Tekes' funding for the energy and environmental sector has been growing rapidly since 2006. Last year, funding of EUR 234 million was provided.

"Projects are most frequently focussed on improving energy efficiency, environmentally responsible processes and renewable energy. ICT also has an ever more significant role", says Teija Lahti-Nuuttila, a Director at Tekes with responsibility for the sustainable economy.

Tekes' financial support has enabled the development of intelligent electricity networks, solutions for waste management and energy efficiency of buildings. In 2013, Tekes' clients reported over 600 Cleantech innovations.

Cleantech companies funded from Tekes' programmes include Groove, which specialises in renewable energy and Green Mining which specialises in clean mining. The Arctic Seas programme is the latest to provide funding for Cleantech projects.

The programmes accelerate the international growth of companies in the Cleantech sector. Clients of programmes include Biolan, which develops ecological products, and AW-Energy which is creating a renewable energy business.

"Finland's strength is the exploitation of scarce resources; whether it's a question of clean water or energy. In order for us to be able to take our skills into global markets too, our companies need a test environment for their innovations", says Lahti-Nuuttila.

Development of new bio-economy business is Tekes' response to Government strategy

The Council of State also approved a decision in principle regarding a national bio-economy strategy. Its objective is to increase skills and innovation in the sector, to encourage companies to seize the opportunities offered in the field of the bio-economy and to generate new business activity from the bio-economy.

"Finland has all that is needed to develop into a pilot country in this sector. We have skills, companies and a reputation for the treatment of biomass from forests and fields. And we also have a strong tradition of using resources efficiently and of working with different kinds of partners", comments Teija Lahti-Nuuttila.

The first bio-economy applications were in the area of bio-fuels which were developed as part of the BioRefine programme that ended the year before last. A good example of one of the programme's projects is the concept developed by Fortum, Metso, UPM and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, in which bio-oil to replace heavy fuel oil, is produced using a fluidised bed boiler in an integrated plant. The production of bio-oil was launched last year at Fortum's power plant in Joensuu.

Two years ago, Tekes launched its Green Growth programme through which many promising projects related to exploiting bio-waste have been funded, alongside others.

Teija Lahti-Nuuttila hopes for new companies and developers in the bio-economy sector. Applications can be found in the medical, cosmetics or furnishings sectors. The furthest developed of the new application areas are innovations in the field of bio- and composite materials.

"Biomaterials often beat competing materials on weight, durability, energy efficiency and recyclability. They will bring clear benefits to companies and end-users", promises Lahti-Nuuttila.

Further information

Teija Lahti-Nuuttila
Executive Director, Natural Resources and the Sustainable Economy
tel. +358 (0)50 5577 873
teija.lahti-nuuttila (at) tekes.fi

Sanna Nuutila