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Spinverse supports Fortum and Metsä Group in the launch of a joint EUR 50 million circular bioeconomy programme

Jun 18, 2020 1:13:36 PM

Spinverse customers Fortum and Metsä Group join forces with Business Finland to create a world-class R&D programme with pulp fibre from renewable and sustainable sources as its node. The 4-year joint R&D programme, called ExpandFibre, aims to develop ground-breaking technologies and smart business concepts that are required to convert straw and wood pulp fibre into novel bioproducts, such as textile fibres. The R&D programme has been granted EUR 20 million from Business Finland. 

Spinverse supported Fortum and Metsä Group in the planning and preparation of the winning ExpandFibre programme proposal and facilitates setting up the activities. Senior Manager Kaisu Leppänen, from Spinverse says: “We are proud to contribute to such an ambitious programme which aspires to be an inspiration to the bioeconomy field and aims at new and sustainable biobased business through open innovation partnerships.”

ExpandFibre will be part of a global innovation ecosystem. The ExpandFibre partners Fortum and Metsä Group want to encourage members of the ecosystem to significantly accelerate their efforts within circular bioeconomy. Members of the ecosystem can apply for financing from Business Finland or from the EU.

Already today, Finland is a leader in circular bioeconomy. In addition to production and export of physical bioproducts, such as paper, board, and solid wood products, Finland is also known for having one of the highest standards in terms of biomass management, for its technology suppliers, and its education curriculum, as well as for its engineering and R&D services. ExpandFibre builds on this profound knowledge platform with a mission to provide selected markets with new, high-volume bioproducts that have a significantly lower carbon footprint compared to similar (but fossil-based) products available today.

“We are excited to enter into this innovative partnership through ExpandFibre and are looking forward to a mutually rewarding cooperation within the whole ecosystem. With this setup, Fortum will continue building on its pioneering bioproducts vision: bringing residual straw raw material into industrial processing and further into environmentally friendly materials and chemicals. Our aim is to develop high-value end-products from all the main components of straw – cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin,” explains Risto Sormunen, Head of Bio2X Development at Fortum.   

“Metsä Group is firmly rooted in the sustainably managed Finnish forests. Finding new, added-value applications for pulp fibre obtained from our Northern wood is a key R&D target for the group. We are thrilled to partner up with Business Finland and Fortum in the ExpandFibre programme and we are very much looking forward to co-creating new technologies and concepts within the partnership and as part of the larger innovation ecosystem,” says Niklas von Weymarn, CEO of Metsä Group’s innovation company Metsä Spring. 

ExpandFibre is a unique collaboration scheme to be launched during the summer of 2020 and extending until August 2024. The R&D programme focuses on seven research themes:

  • Textiles
  • Biocomposites
  • Packaging materials
  • Other new fibre products
  • Hemicellulose
  • Lignin
  • Sourcing and fractionation of straw

The value chains of interest to the ExpandFibre programme are all based on renewable and sustainable raw materials, namely straw and Northern wood. Importantly, ExpandFibre is challenging other actors of related value chains to accelerate their efforts in building a world-leading innovation ecosystem together and, subsequently, enabling new bioproducts and green businesses to reach commercial maturity.

Find more information here:

ExpandFibre web page
Business Finland press release (in FInnish) 

For further information, please contact:

Niklas von Weymarn, CEO, Metsä Spring, tel. +358 40 547 6977
Juha Laine, SVP, Communications, Metsä Group, tel. +358 10 465 4541
Risto Sormunen, Head of Bio2X Development, Fortum, tel. +358 50 453 4615
Kaisu Leppänen, Senior Manager, Spinverse, tel. +358 44 288 4824

Fortum is a European energy company with activities in more than 40 countries. We provide our customers with electricity, gas, heating and cooling as well as smart solutions to improve resource efficiency. We want to engage our customers and society to join the change for a cleaner world. Together with our subsidiary Uniper, we are the third largest producer of CO2-free electricity in Europe. With approximately 19,000 professionals and a combined balance sheet of approximately EUR 69 billion, we have the scale, competence and resources to grow and to drive the energy transition forward. Fortum's share is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki and Uniper's share on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

Metsä Group is a forerunner in sustainable bioeconomy utilising renewable wood from sustainably managed northern forests. Metsä Group focuses on wood supply and forest services, wood products, pulp, fresh fibre paperboards and tissue and greaseproof papers. In 2019, Metsä Group’s sales totalled EUR 5.5 billion, and it employs approximately 9,300 people. Metsäliitto Cooperative is the parent company of Metsä Group and is owned by approximately 103,000 Finnish forest owners.

Business Finland is the Finnish government organization for innovation funding and trade, travel and investment promotion. Business Finland’s 600 experts work in 40 offices globally and in 16 regional offices around Finland. Business Finland is part of the Team Finland network.

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