Forestry Speed Dating: Key challenges and innovation opportunities for wood construction

EFI Bioregions Facility is starting a new series of virtual Forestry Speed Dating events. This second series will feature Bio-based solutions for sustainable construction. The first event of this series, taking place on 17 June 2022, will give an introduction to the series through three presentations related to Key challenges and innovation opportunities for wood construction.

Join us for three presentations from leading wood construction organisations/companies and a discussion about how to overcome wood construction challenges!

The three presentations are:

Main challenges of Slovenia’s biggest timber building – By Iztok Šušteršič, InnoRenew CoE
InnoRenew CoE is an independent research institute that targets renewable materials and sustainable buildings, specifically innovative approaches to wood and its use, with the goal of transferring scientific knowledge into industrial practice. Through hands-on wood construction experience at their own facilities, InnoRenew CoE is very well-placed to outline the challenges in wood construction.

Demountable timber buildings with the use of carpentry joints – By Jørgen Tycho, Osoltre
Oslotre specialises in timber architecture and construction technology. The company has more than 12 years of experience in timber architecture, timber engineering, assembly and production of CLT elements. Oslotre has offices in Oslo (Norway) and Melbourne (Australia) working mainly with office buildings and multi-story residential housing projects in timber.

Sustainable wood construction value chains: linking product innovations and regional stakeholders in the Basajaun project – By Uwe Kies, InnovaWood
InnovaWood is the main European network for wood science, technology and education. With 60+ member organisations in 28 European countries, it is a large living community of professionals in research, development, innovation, and education in the forest-based sector. The overall objective is to foster innovation in the value chain and related research and education, from forestry to wood products, to furniture, interiors and design of buildings by providing a forum to the membership. InnovaWood forges partnerships for European projects and alliances with policy stakeholders in the role of a lead communication partner, with the aim to make the wood sector and its innovation ecosystem at large more visible towards the European research community and the European institutions.

More information and registration

World Bioeconomy Roundtable – Corporate Leaders and the Financial World

The World BioEconomy Roundtable on the theme of Corporate Leaders and the Financial World will focus on forest industry leaders, and discuss the topic, “What role does the forest industry play in climate change mitigation?”. The event will include short introduction presentations followed by a panel discussion, moderated by Teresa Presas, Senior Advisor to the World BioEconomy Forum.

There will be a prestigious and highly notable set of panelists including:
• David Brand, Chair and CEO of New Forests
• Derek Nighbour, President and CEO at FPAC
• Ilkka Hämälä, President & CEO of Metsä Group
• Walter Schalka, CEO of Suzano

Register now

Bioregions Facility selected for the Pilot Action on Partnership for Regional Innovation

The European Commission announced the 63 regions, seven cities and four Member States selected in the pilot project for Partnerships for Regional Innovation (PRI), an initiative developed together with the Committee of the Regions. Participants in the pilot action are open to share good practices and to co-develop and test tools to mobilise multiple sources of funding and policies, and connect regional and national programmes to EU initiatives for the green and digital transformations. These Partnerships will feed into the new Innovation Agenda for Europe, where innovation drives the transformation for sustainability, connecting local strategies with EU-level initiatives.

The call has attracted a wide representation of the EU innovation ecosystem, ranging from Member States and a broad variety of EU regions to multi-region networks. The Bioregions Facility successfully applied as a group of regions, consisting of its current regional members: Basque Country, North Rhine-Westphalia and North Karelia. The Bioregions Facility, together with 38 other successful applicants, will now start working on activities within the framework of the Pilot Action. Inazio Martinez de Arano, coordinator of the Bioregions Facility, explained “the Pilot Action is very timely to upscale our Facility’s efforts to catalyse innovation in the forest-based bioeconomy of our member regions”.

Pilot Action launch event

The hybrid launch event of the initiative took place on 17 May 2022 in Brussels; the recording is available here. In the opening session, Commissioners Elisa Ferreira (Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms) and Mariya Gabriel (Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth), together with President of the CoR, Apostolos Tzitzikostas, highlighted the importance of the PRI to tackle the innovation divide in the EU and to allow convergent growth of European regions. The message of Mr. Tzitzikostas was strong: “Investing in innovation is not a luxury”.

During the second session, officials of several regions and cities participating in the Pilot Action expressed their commitment to and expectations of the PRI. The third session focused on the implementation priorities and challenges. Kevin Morgan, Scientific Committee Member, closed the third session with: “Top performing cities and regions will innovate anyway. Without our intervention, without our advice. The unique thing about the PRI is that it offers an opportunity for all places to innovate and …. to become the best that they can be.”

Partnerships for Regional Innovation Playbook

The main reference document underpinning the Partnerships for Regional Innovation – PRI Pilot Action is the “Partnerships for Regional Innovation Playbook“, developed by the JRC-European Commission with the support of a Scientific Committee of recognised experts and centred on a selection of practical policy tools. This initial edition showcases proven tools, inspired by leading innovation policy practice across Europe and the world. The term ‘play’ in the title emphasises the need for exploring, experimenting and learning and also for tailored approaches to the unique opportunities and challenges of each territory.

During the Pilot Action, taking place from May 2022 until June 2023, the participants will test these policy tools while co-creating operational guidance. The Playbook and Pilot Action will also promote good practices, facilitate learning through experimentation and support public administrations and the broader ecosystem.

Background

The Partnerships are rooted in the upcoming Innovation Agenda for Europe to help integrate initiatives and investment at EU and national levels. It is an effort directly targeted to improve Innovation ecosystems as one essential area to boost Europe’s innovation performance. The key objective is to strengthen interconnection of regional and local innovation ecosystems for a green and digital Europe and to improve resilience of European sustainable value chains and deep-tech sectors.

Become a Bioeconomy Youth Ambassador!

Are you between 18 and 35 years old and have experience or strong interest in bioeconomy and/or bioeconomy related fields (food systems, forestry, climate change…)? Would you like to contribute to the sustainable and circular transition of Europe?

Apply by 13 June – 11:59PM CET to join the Bioeconomy Youth Ambassadors programme to:

  • lead by example, inform and inspire others about sustainable and circular bioeconomy
  • reach out to communities, students and civil society, and to engage decision-makers
  • work with social media to raise awareness about the role of the bioeconomy in everyone’s life
  • raise awareness for the bioeconomy especially in youth communities, support the ongoing youth and education related processes of the European Union

Photo: Nowaja via Pixabay

Basque Country is the venue for the European Forest Institute annual Board Meeting

This visit is in line with the Basque Government’s commitment to the bioeconomy and is part of its Circular Economy and Bioeconomy Plan to optimise clean production.

The bioeconomy is gaining notoriety in the Basque Country and the territory is moving towards the ecological transition thanks to different projects and initiatives related to the bioeconomy and forestry research. In this scenario, the Board of Directors of the European Forest Institute (EFI), a European benchmark in forestry research, held its annual meeting in the Basque Country on 26 – 27 April, attracted by all the projects that are making the region emerge as one of the bio-economic focal points of southern Europe. 

During their visit, the Board had the opportunity to learn about the progress of some of the most important bioeconomy projects currently being carried out in our territory. 

They were accompanied during their tour of the Basque Country by Leire Barañano, Managing director of NEIKER and Vice-President of the EFI Board of Directors, Santiago Rementeria, Managing director of Gaiker and Izaskun Garmendia, from Tecnalia’s Construction and Bio-based Products business area. 

The Basque Country, a focus for the bioeconomy in southern Europe 

“It is no coincidence that the meeting of the highest body of EFI, represented by experts linked to the field of the bioeconomy, is being held in our territory, specifically in Enkarterri, a region in which a powerful bioeconomy hub is being developed that integrates training, entrepreneurship and business activities”, explained Leire Barañano, CEO of NEIKER and vice-president of the EFI board of directors. 

Enkarterri, and in particular, the Basque Design Center of Güeñes (Bizkaia), was the first stop for the members of the EFI Board of Directors, a visit in which they also had the opportunity to witness first-hand some of the projects of the wood construction company Egoin at its production plant in Natxitua (Ea, Bizkaia). Egoin’s philosophy lies in sustainable construction, betting on wood as a construction resource, environmental care and the use of local raw material. 

The following day, the attendees visited the Bizkaia Technology Park to learn about the evolution of the Bioregions Facility, an EFI initiative which promotes trans-regional cooperation for a sustainable and inclusive circular bioeconomy based on forests, through different projects, and in which the Basque Country has been actively participating since its creation. Afterwards, they visited the headquarters of NEIKER, Gaiker and Tecnalia technology centres, benchmark technology centres in the Basque R&D&I ecosystem in the field of the bioeconomy, to discover the Basque Country’s technological capabilities in forestry research and projects related to the economy. 

In this regard, the NEIKER technology centre, which specialises in offering technological solutions to the primary sector, has been collaborating in recent years with various projects to promote the circular economy in the Basque Country. These include the Latxari project, which gives a second life to waste that is difficult to manage, such as wool waste from latxa sheep, and the FERTILWASTES project, through which new fertilisers and biostimulants are being developed through the sustainable use of organic waste. 

Towards a more sustainable economic and business fabric 

The Basque Country has been working for years in the field of the circular economy. In fact, according to data from the Basque Government Department of Economic Development, Sustainability and Environment, the Basque economy has grown by 26% since 2000, while the consumption of materials has been reduced by 25% and the volume of urban waste in landfill has been reduced by 56%. In this time of ecological transition, the region’s economy is decoupling from the consumption of materials and the generation of waste through various measures and projects, such as those mentioned above, to promote the circular economy. 

In this context, last October, the Basque Government approved the Circular Economy and Bioeconomy Plan, an initiative aligned with the European Green Pact, which seeks to boost efficiency in the consumption of raw materials, reduce waste and optimise clean production. Among other challenges, this plan aims to increase material productivity by 30%, reduce the waste generation rate by 10% and position the Basque Country among the leaders of the circular economy in Europe. 

The EFI Board of Directors’ visit is part of the Basque Government’s strategy to promote the bioeconomy. 

Register for Bioregions international workshop – Unlocking regional bioeconomy transitions

Bioregions Facility and DBFZ (German Biomass Research Centre) are co-organising a two-day hybrid workshop about “Unlocking Regional bioeconomy transitions. State of the art and ways forward”. The workshop features several keynotes and panels to address the role of regions in the European bioeconomy, to better understand regional key drivers and enablers, as well as an analysis of flagship regional initiatives and successful policies to unlock investment in the bioeconomy. In this way, participants will be able to collectively reflect on what makes a region attractive for bioeconomy investments. On the second day, there will be a study visit to UPM’s new biorefinery construction site at Leuna, in the Saxony-Anhalt region, as a real-life example of attracting bioeconomy investment to the region.

The workshop is organised as a hybrid event taking place on 28-29 June 2022 at DBFZ facilities in Leipzig and at UPM’s new biorefinery construction site in Leuna.

Register now!

Preliminary programme

Practical information

Learn more about UPM’s new biorefinery

Photo: Loredana Habermann /AdobeStock

Assessment of the development of forest-based bioeconomy in European regions

A new open- access paper “Assessment of the Development of Forest-Based Bioeconomy in European Regions” has been published in Sustainability as part of the Special Issue Bioeconomy, Circular Economy and Sustainability. The article was led by NEIKER BRTA, with support of the Bioregions Facility’s secretariat, and is based on interviews with experts from the three founding members who inaugurated the Bioregions Facility in 2020: Basque Country (Spain), North Karelia (Finland) and North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany).

In recent years, the potential of the forest-based bioeconomy to provide competitiveness, differentiation, and sustainability to the European economy has often been claimed. Interestingly, regions, as territorial units with their own political and socioeconomic strategies, have been highlighted as the most suitable targets for the development of the European forest-based bioeconomy.

Barañano et al., using the case method, have evaluated the development of the forest-based bioeconomy in three European regions (i.e., North Karelia, North Rhine-Westphalia and Basque Country), by appraising the status of 10 previously identified key drivers through primary (interviews with experts) and secondary (literature review) sources of information.

In the analysis, North Karelia and the Basque Country obtained the highest and lowest score, respectively, with regard to forest-based bioeconomy development. In any case, for the successful development of the forest-based bioeconomy in a European region, it is essential to accept the unnegotiable, critically, of the long-term sustainability of forest bioresources and production processes, as well as the need to foster the required changes in consumption patterns.

Reference: Barañano, L., Unamunzaga, O., Garbisu, N., Briers, S., Orfanidou, T., Schmid, B., Martínez de Arano, I., Araujo, A., Garbisu, C. Assessment of the Development of Forest-Based Bioeconomy in European Regions. Sustainability. 2022; 14(8):4747. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14084747

Image: Jan Vašek via Pixabay

Save Material – Save the Planet

According to the motto “Save Material – Save the Planet”, in 2022, for a period of approximately five months, an innovation programme will explore the better use of existing buildings and its materials.

The municipality of Aachen, in North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany), and the Faculty of Architecture at RWTH Aachen University are involved. The central task is to identify solutions for better use of resources in the building sector. The question is how the existing building stock can be used and improved, with the following goals:

  • to counteract material scarcity
  • circularity of construction methods
  • avoid construction waste and emissions

Click the button below to see further information and call for this project.

Registration open for Woodrise 2022

InnoRenew CoE and the University of Primorska are organizing one of the world’s most important conferences in modern sustainable construction. Woodrise 2022 will be held from 6–9 September 2022 in Portorož, Slovenia. Conference registration is now open.