Meet the winners of the Bioregions Open Innovation Challenge

On 3 July 2023, The European Forest Institute (EFI) announced the winners of the Bioregions Open Innovation Challenge, launched in December 2022. The three winners from Finland, Serbia and Spain will receive EUR 7,000 each to further develop their solutions. 

Here are the winners in alphabetical order: 

Biomonitoring station 

The biomonitoring station is a set of sensors and modules to collect, store and disseminate data on environmental stressors disturbing and damaging forest ecosystems. Some examples include monitoring air pollution, detecting early forest fires, and checking unwanted vehicles along forest roads. 

“This biomonitoring station aims to contribute to the integrity of forest-related data. Therefore, foresters become data providers of direct air pollution impact instead of end users. This tool can bring early warnings on agents of negative impact on forests that are closely connected to the effects of climate change,” said Dr Zoran Poduška, Institute of Forestry, Belgrade, Serbia and winner of the Open Innovation Challenge. 

Ozone sensor in a forest. Hand holding it is Zoran Poduška from Serbia and winner of the bioregions open innovation challenge
Ozone sensor from biomonitoring station. Image courtesy of Zoran Poduška.

Förecast 

Förecast is a forest intelligence tool that estimates carbon stock availability in the forest and measures other forest variables using remote sensing (LiDAR + satellite) and artificial intelligence developed by the Spanish company Föra. 

“Carbon is one of the most important forest variables nowadays; estimating forest carbon is of utmost importance to create stable markets through forest knowledge and scientific soundness,” says Iñigo Lizarralde, CEO of Föra. 

5 people in an office. 4 are chatting: 2 men and 2 women. One man is on the desk looking at a laptop screen. Föra team was one of the winners of the bioregions open innovation challenge.
Föra team. Image courtesy of Iñigo Lizarralde.

This carbon estimation tool can be used as input for forest scenarios where wood products and carbon sequestration over their life cycle are included. They also offer change detection for vegetation disturbance, allowing for transparent carbon stock monitoring – assuring the market offers verifiable carbon offsets along the established offsetting period. 

ZertiCarbon app 

ZertiCarbon, a company that offers certified carbon sink solutions using blockchain technology, is dedicated to advancing climate-smart forestry solutions, connecting forest owners with companies interested in neutralising carbon emissions.

Group of eight people in the forest next to a harvesting machine.
ZertiCarbon team. Image courtesy of Panu Torniainen.

By digitising forests and using advanced technologies like drone scanning, LiDAR, machine learning, augmented reality, and AI to analyse the forest’s carbon sinks, the Finnish company ZertiCarbon provides a system where individuals and companies can offset their carbon emissions by purchasing carbon credits. 

ZertiCarbon plans to scale up its solution by focusing on conducting research and developing carbon sink projects in Catalonia and Euskadi. 

According to co-founder and managing director Panu Torniainen, “Access to these regions allows us to establish partnerships with landowners, implement advanced technologies and create transparent and reliable carbon offsetting systems that benefit both the environment and local communities.” 

Quotes from the winners about their solutions have been edited for content and clarity. 

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Image by Daniela from Pixabay.