Egurtek closes its 9th edition confirming the value of wood as a material of the future

Egurtek, the International Forum of Architecture & Construction in Wood, has closed its 9th edition. The main objectives of the forum are gathering all the advances in the wood construction & architecture field and promoting new synergies. The event reconfirmed the value of wood as a sustainable material for the future with exceptional qualities for construction. Nearly 1,300 professionals attended the event, confirming the solidity of the event and its suitability as a meeting place.

Bittor Oroz, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Policy of the Basque Government opened the Egurtek event on 19 October: “Wood is a material for the future. Egurtek is not a forum that only promotes the use of wood, but one that plays a very important role because it reflects the entire value chain. It is not limited only to design and construction, but to forest management, technicians… it refers to all the links”.

In addition to the large congress room, Egurtek offers their visitors also the opportunity to join the Technical conferences, the Speaker’s corner and the Expo area. At the Technical conferences, Bittor Oroz Izagirre, Vice-minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Policy of the Basque government, and Leire Barañano, general manager of NEIKER BRTA, both mentioned the EFI Bioregions Facility as key actor to support the transition of the Basque Country towards a circular, territorial-based bioeconomy. The Technical conferences also provided a stage for projects to present their ongoing work: Basajaun, BEHS and Eguralt.

Visitors interested in innovative solutions and the latest trends in wood construction were satisfied to see more than 50 exhibitors in the Expo area, representing the latest innovations in wood construction. The Expo area also featured a Speakers’ Corner, a space where exhibitors gave dynamic and agile presentations about the main innovations which they represented at the forum.

EGURTEK – The 9th International Forum on Architecture and Construction in Wood

Egurtek is a biennial forum for sharing information about timber architecture and construction. The event gathers specialists who wish to keep up to date with wood construction projects. Participants range from architects, architectural technicians, engineers, construction specialists, Municipal Councils and Public Bodies, to Universities and Research Centres. At Egurtek, participants will learn about the leading international projects on wood construction and will have the opportunity to interact directly with the presenters in active debates.

Egurtek will offer varied activities, such as technical seminars, an exhibition and sales area and awards, making it a highly dynamic, high-performing, benchmark event for all participants.

The technical seminars will present and discuss initiatives on wood innovation, training in the forestry/woodworking sector and the forest bioeconomy. Two of the projects that will be presented are the Eguralt and Basajaun projects. The Eguralt project aims to experiment with the application of new processes, products and technologies to optimize the use of wood in the construction of mid-rise buildings; and the Basajaun project works on demonstrating how wood construction chains can be optimized to foster both rural development and urban transformation whilst being connected with sustainable forest management in Europe.

At the Expo area, exhibitors will offer products and services related to architecture, wooden homes, wood treatment, sustainable construction, journals, associations, engineering and decoration, wood for construction, software for structures and importers or wood, elements and materials.

The event will be held on 19 – 20 October 2022 in Bilbao, Spain.

 Registration: Egurtek | Bilbao Exhibition Centre | BEC

BIND4.0 opened international call for innovative technology startups

BIND4.0 (Basque Industry Open Innovation Platform) was launched in the Basque Country, an Industry hub with a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem, in order to connect innovative startups worldwide with industry leading companies. BIND 4.0 facilitates the development of transformative Industry 4.0 projects while providing unparalleled business support due to the region’s strategic long term commitment to Industry and Innovation.

BIND4.0 has a yearly call for innovative technology startups in the fields of Intelligent industry, Clean energy & sustainability, Health and Food. 2022 registration is now open.

Benefits for the successful candidates include:

  • Validate and implement disruptive solutions
  • Receive one or more paid industry 4.0 projects
  • Meet 80+ industry leading potential clients
  • No equity is taken
  • 24 weeks of high impact mentoring
  • Access 20+ specialised VC investors
  • Get immersed in the Basque industrial hub

More information

About BIND 4.0

BIND 4.0 is a public-private initiative funded by the Basque Government and the Department of Economic Development Sustainability and Environment through the SPRI Group. The SPRI Group is the Basque Government’s business development agency leading and supporting the local entrepreneurship ecosystem through its UpEuskadi platform.

Partnerships for Regional Innovation: first pilot plenary meeting

The Partnerships for Regional Innovation – PRI Pilot Action held its first pilot plenary meeting on 7 July 2022. The initiative was launched in June jointly by the European Commission and the Committee of the Regions. The first plenary meeting was an interactive event to generate discussions, dialogue, and co-creation among all PRI Pilot participants. It presented the policy context around PRI, the PRI Playbook and a proposal for a PRI Pilot roadmap, outlining the organization of pilot activities

Bioregions Facility has been selected to participate in the pilot project as a group of regions, consisting of its current regional members: Basque Country; North Rhine-Westphalia; and North Karelia. Representatives of the Facility joined the event, together with more than 150 participants.

The online event, started with the presentation of the New Innovation Agenda for Europe and PRI, highlighting the need of a holistic approach, investment, diffusion, circular economy, and innovation to tackle global challenges such as climate change. The work that PRI does at a regional level was also emphasized, including establishing networks, creating cooperation and consortia in regions working in the same value chain.

A call was made to select a contact person representing each region with an academic or scientific background to act as a scientific track and maintain constant interaction with the directive.

The PRI Playbook

During the event, the PRI Playbook was presented as a guidance document, containing a range of tools and mechanisms to coordinate and enable the exploration of broad-ranging policy mixes for system-level innovation. The playbook will act as an empowering tool for policymakers and should be adapted to European realities, as it will be co-created via joint work and with feedback from the regions.

It contains a Toolbox that gathers 68 tools for diagnosis, policy design and implementation; and three building blocks as an initial approach to be co-developed through the pilot: Open Discovery Process, Policy and Action Mix and the Strategic Policy framework. Three working groups will be working around each building block.

The event ended with a discussion and feedback from pilot participants from the different participant regions, and final remarks from the EU committee.

Michal Miedzinski, economic and policy researcher at JRC said: “This is a collective effort from the bottom, with the best minds we can gather and do a collation of the willing, these are all the ingredients we need to move forward“.

Thomas Wobben, Director at Committee of the Regions gave a strong final message: “We really hope that this collaboration is building on trust, that we are able to have a frank exchange, and that we can help each other”

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.

Forest bioeconomy highlighted as opportunity for the Basque Country in Baskegur General Assembly

The Basque association of the forestry and wood sector, Baskegur, held its general assembly on 22 June. After the event, they held a session to reflect on the market situation and future challenges. There, bioeconomy was highlighted to provide great opportunities in the Basque Country.

As the Basque Deputy Minister for Economic Development, Sustainability and the Environment, Bittor Oroz, tweeted “The forest & wood sector in the Basque Country is the main source of natural, renewable raw materials and the basis of the circular bioeconomy. With sustainable forest management, it contributes to the Basque Green Deal strategy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions”.

NEIKER is seeking an Assistant Researcher in Irregular Silviculture

NEIKER, the Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development, is opening a one-year Post-doc position (with potential for prolongation) on climate smart forestry. The tasks of the successful candidate include:

  1. Design and execution of the transformation of even-age and homogeneous stands into structurally diverse stands, using natural processes to create forest masses with greater resistance and resilience to climate change.
  2. Modelling of forestry dynamics to propose forestry solutions that improve the quantity and quality of water for urban supply.
  3. Collaboration in research projects in the area covered by the call in its phases (preparation of research proposals, project management and development, contact with relevant agents, preparation of deliverables, diffusion of results, etc.)
  4. Application of successful cases of forestry adaptation to climate change to the reality of the Basque Country for their implementation.

More information

Photo: Tumisu via Pixabay

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.

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. 

EU Mission “Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities” announced

Earlier this year, 377 European cities applied to be one of the 100 cities selected in the frame of the Horizon Europe Mission on climate-neutral and smart cities. Last week the European Commission announced the 112 cities that have been selected. EFI’s Bioregions Facility is pleased to see Vitoria-Gasteiz from Basque Country, and Aachen and Dortmund from North Rhine-Westphalia among selected cities.

The 100 cities come from all 27 Member States, with 12 additional cities coming from countries associated or with the potential of being associated to Horizon Europe, the EU’s research and innovation programme (2021-2027).  Selected cities will work together to reach climate neutrality by 2030, receiving dedicated support from the Mission Platform, NetZeroCities. The Mission aims to deliver at least 100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030, who will act as experimentation and innovation hubs to support all European cities in becoming climate-neutral by 2050.