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Evaluation: Finland has potential to become world leader in biorefinery development

26.9.12

Finland has the potential to become a world leader in biorefinery development. This is thanks to high-quality expertise in the field and the availability of leading-edge researchers and multidisciplinary research teams. Finland also has abundant resources in forest-based raw materials and advanced forest industries. These are some of the findings of a recent report by the Academy of Finland. The report presents the assessment of an international expert panel that evaluated the Academy’s Research Programme on Sustainable Production and Products (KETJU).

Key areas of excellence in Finnish research and industry highlighted by the panel include a sustainable mining industry, freshwater research and research on renewable energy sources, particularly in cooperation with international partners.

According to the panel, the KETJU programme successfully implemented the goals set for it. The programme made a real contribution to strengthening basic research in process engineering and chemistry, which in turn created new areas of application and accelerated competitiveness in the field. The programme also established a number of highly successful multidisciplinary research teams and promoted collaboration between different teams and research fields. Researcher training within the programme was also active. The panel felt that a number of projects achieved excellent scientific results, in some cases even new breakthroughs. In addition, several projects demonstrated significant promise for industrial application.

However, the panel also found a number of areas in need of improvement, such as researcher contacts and collaboration with industry. There is often too little dialogue between basic research and industry, or it is totally lacking. The panel proposes that young researchers be trained to meet representatives of industry and to build bridges across research and industry.

The panel further notes that the programme’s international collaboration remained somewhat limited. The panel therefore proposes that international cooperation be emphasised in future research programmes, for example so that researchers would work in partner countries for longer periods and more systematically than at present.

The Academy of Finland launched the four-year Research Programme on Sustainable Production and Products in 2006. The aim of the programme was to meet the major future challenges in basic research of chemical industries and process and production technologies. Within the programme, the Academy has funded a total of 25 projects with more than EUR 10 million. The programme’s foreign partners are France and India, and the international joint projects within the programme will run until 2013.

The English-language evaluation report is part of the Academy of Finland publication series and is available as a PDF download at www.aka.fi/publications > Publication series.

More information:

Programme Manager Saila Seppo, tel. +358 40 591 3518, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi
www.aka.fi/ketju

Academy of Finland
Communications Manager Riitta Tirronen
tel. +358 40 828 1724, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi 

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