The growing ExpandFibre Ecosystem accelerates the development of sustainable bioproducts

Fortum and Metsä Group launched ExpandFibre, a 4-year R&D collaboration, in summer 2020. It is a major effort towards developing high-volume bioproducts that have a significantly lower carbon footprint compared to currently available fossil-based products. To succeed in the ambitious mission, the founding companies have joined forces with a large and continuously growing group of innovation partners – the ExpandFibre Ecosystem. Spinverse has supported the ecosystem in setting up the ExpandFibre activities and is working with Fortum and Metsä Group to accelerate impactful collaboration.

ExpandFibre is a unique form of collaboration co-funded by Business Finland. It was launched by Fortum and Metsä Group during summer 2020 and extends until August 2024. The R&D activities focus on seven research themes of textiles, biocomposites, packaging materials, other new fibre products, hemicellulose, lignin and sourcing and fractionation of straw.

Reaching ambitious goals under multiple themes requires broad coverage of competences in different disciplines and value chain roles. To build the needed muscle power, ExpandFibre consists of two company-led R&D Programmes and an ever-growing innovation Ecosystem. To date, around 40 organisations have joined the Ecosystem, eager to work together towards the common goals and visions. The fruitful idea exchange among the leading industry and research influencers has already started through various workshops, joint projects and other activities.

Spinverse supports Fortum and Metsä Group to create value with the ecosystem

An ecosystem requires constant work to keep it going and growing. It needs to be built and planned carefully, including defining a clear strategy and an efficient operational model. Once the ecosystem is up and running after the initial start-up phase, it is important to maintain the momentum with the ecosystem members. This means constantly planting the seeds for new joint activities and collaboration opportunities, reviewing the joint achievements against the set strategic targets, and ensuring that the value proposition to the members is delivered. At the end of the day, the ExpandFibre Ecosystem aims at creating more joint projects and activities that accelerate the development of sustainable bioproducts.

Heli Virkki, Senior Manager, Bio2X Product portfolio at Fortum says: “Spinverse has been a valuable partner in brainstorming the operational model and strategy of such a novel ecosystem organization with us, working effectively in the timely limited schedule.”

Director Kaisu Leppänen and her colleagues at Spinverse have supported ExpandFibre from its very start: at first contributing to the winning project proposal and, after a positive funding decision, helping in setting up the ExpandFibre strategy, value-proposition to partners, operational model and management processes. In the current growth phase, the Spinverse team is supporting Fortum and Metsä Group in the day-to-day management and growing the ecosystem.

Kaisu is delighted to see that this circular bioeconomy programme has truly taken off and raised a lot of interest among potential collaborators within the field. “The growing group of ecosystem members, representing a large variety of different actors in the value chains of sustainable bioproducts, creates a unique opportunity for cross-industrial collaboration. Aligned behind a common goal and supported by the innovation efforts of two major industrial players, this collaboration is a fertile soil for developing new products with significantly lower carbon footprint and making a high impact,” Kaisu concludes. 

Are you interested in joining the ExpandFibre Ecosystem or would you like to know more about building ecosystems? 

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More information:
ExpandFibre project website

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