5th Forest Innovation Workshop 2023 Report

Started in 2014 as a joint initiative of European regions and forest sector organizations, the 5th edition of the European Forest Innovation Workshop devoted to Inform-Prioritize-Collaborate: Cooperation of Regions on Innovation in Forest Management, Use of Wood and Forest-related Services, has taken place on 18 January 2023 (full-day workshop) at the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the European Union in Brussels.

The role of innovation in managing new challenges in the forest-based sector at regional level in the EU.

Documentation of Plenary and Break-out Sessions

Main objectives of the event

  • Understanding the new framework for regional innovation policies addressing the forest-based sector in Europe
  • Presenting relevant innovations from different European regions that are helping address key European policy ambitions
  • Connecting experts and practitioners to speed up knowledge flows
  • Encourage public and private collaboration at EU and regional levels to foster innovation

Download the programme

Participant list

Photos from the event

Themes

The event provided an opportunity to learn about the most recent updates on European initiatives and connect with a selection of innovative cases, presented during the 2 rounds of breakout sessions.

The themes addressed in the workshop are:

  1. Carbon market, bioeconomy, climate smart forestry and rural development
  2. Forest degradation and nature restoration
  3. Ecosystem services and better integration in forest management

Digitalization and social innovation are cross-cutting aspects contributing to the above themes.

Presentations

Plenary

Introduction to Regional Authorities Round-Table Discussion on priorities for innovation

Breakout Table 1: Carbon Market, Bioeconomy, Climate Smart Forestry and Rural Development

Breakout Table 2: Forest Degradation and Nature Restoration

Breakout Table 3: Provision of Ecosystem Services

Past editions

Bioregions Open Innovation Challenge 2022 launched!

Submit a solution to our forest bioeconomy challenges and make chance to win a grant for developing your idea!

Bioregions Open innovation Challenges provide a framework to identify and support the development and scaling-up of innovative solutions (technologies, business ideas, etc.) to pressing challenges in forests management and the forest bioeconomy. Its final objective is to facilitate sustainable transitions in European regions putting into value the full range of ecosystem services provided by forests. The Bioregions Open Innovation Challenge 2022 focuses on following challenges:

• Carbon Farming & Climate-Smart Forestry

• Forest Monitoring, Early Warning and Response

• Unleash the potential of Non-Wood Forest Products

Forestry Speed Dating: High-performance wooden building materials

EFI Bioregions Facility is continuing its virtual Forestry Speed Dating series on Bio-based solutions for sustainable construction. During the second event of this series, taking place on 22 September 2022, two companies will show their sustainable innovations for high-performance wooden building materials. After the presentations in plenary, attendees can connect and seek for collaborations with the presenters and fellow attendees in breakout rooms.

Presentations

Innovative insulation panel products – By Juan Albiñana, Chief Innovation Officer at Garnica
Garnica is a world leader in the plywood industry. They work continuously to develop new products, combining different species of wood with new materials, always with the aim of proposing solutions to market needs. A recent product that will be presented is G-brick, a structural insulating panel with high mechanical performance recommended as a construction system in passive or high energy efficiency projects.

Thermo Mechanical Timber Modification machines that turn lower value wood sources into higher value building materials – By Matthias Gelber, Brand Ambassador at Avant Wood
Avant Wood Finland will share the use case of the multi-award-winning Loeley project in Finland which is 7 years old and where outdoor cladding, decking and interior furniture like tables and doors were all made from low-value “trashwood”. For the interior, birch plywood core waste was the raw material and for the outside, small diameter pine thinnings were used. Both raw materials are only considered good enough for thermal use as wood pellets or for pulp/paper but not for highly durable and long-lasting carbon sink furniture or building materials. The presentation will outline how the wood was modified to provide high-value durable end products and what the underlying features of the Avant Wood TMTM (Thermo Mechanical Timber Modification) process are.

More information and registration

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.

Call for wood construction innovations

The Bioregions Facility has kicked off its second series of Forestry Speed Dating events on the theme of Bio-based solutions for sustainable construction. After summer, the matchmaking event will continue with its ordinary format: Two or three innovation owners present their wood construction innovations that focus on a common topic. Examples of such focus topics include: Bio-based wood treatment; Wood-based insulation; Wood-based glues; Modular construction; Digitalisation in wood construction; Monitoring wooden buildings; Circularity in wood construction; Use of hardwoods; Low maintenance solutions; Fire-safety; etc. After the presentations, the attendees can connect with the innovation owners in break-out rooms and together they can seek potential collaborations.

Does your research organisation, startup or company own an interesting innovation that can benefit from connecting with experts in the wood construction ecosystem?

Then we are looking for you!

We still have some presentation slots available for the Forestry Speed Dating events after summer. Therefore we highly invite you to express your interest to present your innovation and seek collaborations by filling in this form or sending an email to siebe.briers[@]efi.int.

Key challenges and innovation opportunities for Wood Construction

Wood construction is seen as a prominent solution to reduce and reverse climate change as it is a way to capture and store carbon emissions long-term. But wood construction also faces many challenges. On 17 June 2022, the Bioregions Facility kicked off its second Forestry Speed Dating series on the topic of Bio-based solutions for sustainable construction. The introductory event featured three speakers from different positions in the wood construction value chain. The speakers succeeded to give a very clear insight into the challenges of wood construction and how innovation provides opportunities to overcome these challenges. Below, you can access the three presentations together with the clipped recordings.

Main challenges of Slovenia’s biggest timber building – 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.

By Iztok Šušteršič. Learn more

Presentation (PDF)

Recording

Demountable timber buildings with the use of carpentry joints – 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.

By Jørgen Tycho. Learn more

Presentation (PDF)

Recording

Sustainable wood construction value chains: Linking product innovations and regional stakeholders in the Basajaun project – 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.

By Uwe Kies. Learn more

Presentation (PDF)

Recording

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

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.