The First ExpandFibre Ecosystem member event paved the way forward for the entire Ecosystem by creating valuable connections and new ideas between partners

The First ExpandFibre Ecosystem member event paved the way forward for the entire Ecosystem by creating valuable connections and new ideas between partners

News 11.06.2021

The first ever ExpandFibre Ecosystem member event on 3rd of June invited all the 48 member organisations of the Ecosystem to connect and ideate together. The event attracted nearly 100 active participants from the Ecosystem – from SMEs and large companies to RTOs and universities alike.  

The event, chaired by Laura Koponen, CEO of Spinverse, highlighted the progress made by the ExpandFibre program and included pitches from the ongoing Ecosystem projects, an engaging keynote presentation, energizing speed-dating between Ecosystem members and interactive pitching workshops taking ideas further together.

The event started with the programme managers of ExpandFibre, Katariina Kemppainen from Metsä Spring and Heli Virkki from Fortum, presenting the highlights of the programmes. The presentation included an overview on the status of the current Ecosystem and introduction to the first of many results to come from joint Fortum and Metsä projects as well as separate projects from both organisations. The key take-aways from the programme managers to the Ecosystem members were firstly active overall participation within the Ecosystem, secondly communication on future project ideas throughout the Ecosystem and finally cross-cutting and long-term collaboration between different actors along the value chains for the best and most innovative end results.

Four short ExpandFibre project pitches were held, giving the Ecosystem members a glimpse of the projects, that member organisations are currently working on. Jarmo Ropponen from VTT started by introducing the project ValCel, a collaborative initiative towards more sustainable cellulose-based products. Outi Koivistoinen from VTT showcased the SynbioPro project that aims to use synthetic biology to enable cheaper, faster, and cleaner ways to produce materials. Chunlin Xu, from Åbo Akademi took the stage to showcase the development of high-performance copolymers and materials based on lignin in the LigninReSurf project. Finally, Michael Hummel from Aalto University, described the progress made in developing sustainable solutions for man-made cellulose fiber processes in the FinnFiberColor project.

The keynote speech was presented by Emily Marsh from Munster Technological University. The Keynote showcased the BIOSWITCH project, and the project’s results of needs, risks, and motivations for brand owners and consumers to switch to bio-based products. The BIOSWITCH Horizon 2020 project runs until May 2022 with the main aim of brining Europe to the forefront of the bio-based economy, encouraging and supporting brand owners to switching to bio-based approaches by following holistic and holistic and systemic approaches. The main novelty of BIOSWITCH is a bio-based transition level self-assessment test to be done by brand owners so they can get access only to the tools that match their needs. 

To facilitate the creation of connections between the event participants, four virtual speed-dating sessions were held after the Ecosystem project presentations and the keynote. In these sessions the Ecosystem members had an enjoyable time getting to know each other – great conversations were held, new linkages between the Ecosystem members were created, and even quick impromptu waiting room pitches were heard. 

The already bubbling energy of the participants was further boosted with the final event of the day – the six pitching workshops. Every participant had the chance to attend two workshops and generate new ideas together. The workshops were split around six different themes and hosted by experts from both research and industry backgrounds. The workshops in the event were given by the following presenters & organisations: 

  • Jyrki Mäkelä from Tampere University
  • Jarmo KahalaSanteri Levanto, Heikki HassiEric Enqvist from GloCell Oy and SciTech-Service Oy 
  • Pentti JänttiPekka Orne & Jari Lindström from AD-Lux Oy 
  • Jere Koskinen and Ali Harlin from Mega Cellulose Oy 
  • Pekka Saranpää from Luke 
  • Jukka Ketoja from VTT 

The energetic and highly enjoyable 3h event concluded with closing words from programme managers Katariina Kemppainen and Heli Virkki as well as event host Laura Koponen. The key final message from all three was that the event was a very successful virtual introduction of the Ecosystem members and their activities and, without a doubt, many further fruitful connections and collaborations will be established in all upcoming Ecosystem events and activities.