3.2 Strong competence and technology base
Research plays a key role in identifying the growth and potential of the bioeconomy as well as in demonstrating new utilisation paths. Without the competence and experts created by national research, new knowledge on the bioeconomy generated globally could not be utilised. Bioeconomy research covers the production, harvesting and use of bioresources and the development of processes, technologies and systems needed for these. Basic research of a high standard plays an important role in creating an understanding of how biological and ecological processes function so that the future bioeconomy works within the limits of sustainability. Understanding social change with all its consequences is an important part of bioeconomy research. Research will create the prerequisites for shaping the transition to thebioeconomy so that it is compatible with the requirements of society and the sustainable development goals. The aim is to create a scientific and technological foundation for sustainable bioeconomy products, processes and services.
Encourage more scientific research related to the bioeconomy, and increasing its impact
- Encourage multidisciplinary bioeconomy research, the topics of which may include the preconditions and constraints for bioeconomy growth, understanding biological processes, the identification of the ecological premises for the bioeconomy, the development of new biotechnology tools, health research, consumer research, etc.
- Promote the participation of companies in large research projects (for example, the Finnish Academy of Finland’s flagship initiative FinnCERES)
Encourage more applied research related to the bioeconomy and increasing its impact
- Review and develop the funding instruments for applied research (e.g. Business Finland’s Co-creation and Co-innovation) to facilitate the better assessment of the potential of new bioeconomy technologies, such as synthetic biology, nanotechnology, automation, robotics and artificial intelligence
Encourage actors to participate in international networks and to make use of EU research and innovation funding
Improve and encourage cooperation between research and business life by improving its preconditions and through the regional profiling of universities and universities of applied sciences. Identify, map and utilise the higher education sector’s regional research infrastructures. Identify the competence provided by vocational education and training and the share networks play in an education path.
Responsibility: Ministry of Education and Culture, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
Actors: Vocational institutions, higher education institutions, research institutes, Academy of Finland, Finnish Forest Centre, regions, companies
DEVELOPMENT OF TECHNOLOGY
The production of competitive products from biomass-based raw material will require new and more cost-effective processes. The processes must ensure the correct and stable product properties of the product, even though the quality of the raw material varies. The potential of many new products and processes is high due to the efficient use of raw materials and compliance with the principles of the circular economy. The development of the bioeconomy’s industrial applications and technologies will be of wide-ranging benefit if the new solutions are affordable, sustainable and easy to adopt in practice, and where possible supported by digitalisation. In addition, the development of new bioeconomy processes will create significant export and business opportunities for technology suppliers in the sector.
Inputs will also be needed to help scale business. New technologies and processes are often capital intensive investments with a long payback period. Opportunities to support piloting plants, high-risk demonstration projects and the industrialisation of new products significantly accelerate development.
Support the creation of new types of networks and partnership models for the development and utilisation of technologies
- Support national and regional bioeconomy piloting and demonstration infrastructures and increase cooperation with European bioeconomy infrastructures, for example through the Pilot4U network and database
- Strengthen bioeconomy renewal and networking across sectors in Business Finland missions and programme work
- Support the bioeconomy’s innovation and business ecosystems for example through funding from Business Finland’s flagship company and ecosystem funding
- Encourage and help actors to become involved in international networks and to make use of EU research and innovation funding
Responsibility: Ministry of Employment and the Economy, Ministry of Education and Culture, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
Actors: ELY Centres, research institutes, companies, vocational institutions, higher education institutions
Optimal utilisation of digitalisation
The digitalisation of the bioeconomy has already progressed quite far. An enormous amount of data and highly automated processes create a good foundation for the next digital leap. Digitalisation and investments in the future of industry must also be used to optimise the bioeconomy’s existing industrial production and to increase its efficiency. Circular economy digital projects and European platform economy cooperation provide a good foundation for achieving a safe, transparent and origin-enhancing operating model in the transfer of information when data transfer interfaces are compatible. The EU Green Deal includes its own requirements, for example in the form of an electronic product card.
Preparing for the bioeconomy’s next digital leap, in which data is used to produce value added, for example as services or modelling tools
- Cooperation projects combining the bioeconomy and the circular economy will be launched to develop data compatibility by experimenting and building trust in a constructive environment. The aim is to produce open data that respects the ownership of data, based on which new products and services can be designed based on digital modelling
- Digital platforms suitable for bioeconomy cooperation networks will be developed to improve efficiency. Strengthen the connection to development programmes and experiments in the digitalisation of the circular economy
- Build an operating method for linking data on carbon footprints and other sustainability aspects to e.g. food products and raw materials, which already have highly transparent monitoring
- Add the needs for the digitalisation of the bioeconomy to national and EU level digitalisation and artificial intelligence programmes
Responsibility: Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Ministry of Transport and Communications, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
Actors: Sitra, Business Finland, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, GAIA-X Foundation, research institutes, regions, companies, vocational institutions, higher education institutions, Finnish Forest Centre
STRONGER RESEARCH AND EDUCATION
Versatile expertise in the bioeconomy is a competitive advantage. Positive development must be managed to ensure that natural sciences education and interdisciplinary understanding can remain a strong part of Finnish society. Education in the bioeconomy will be developed in a steadfast manner at all levels of education. Employers should encourage employees to take part in continuous learning and see the strengthening and updating of competence as a key factor of competitiveness.
Enhance the appeal of the bioeconomy sector as an alternative for students through excellent study content and communication, and develop forms of cooperation in continuous learning, including between educational institutions and business life
- Improve the appeal of education and training in the field by highlighting the opportunities in careers in the bioeconomy sector through communication that appeals to young people
- Build and strengthen bioeconomy education networks that can be used to anticipate and promote the availability of skilled labour for the needs of society throughout the country. Support cooperation between education levels in education and training related to the bioeconomy
- During anticipation work and the planning of studies, take into consideration the up-to-date competence and sustainable transition needs of bioeconomy and circular economy employers in degree programme content to ensure the availability of skilled labour and up-to-date and versatile competence
- Business models and competence related to the content of business must be included as part of the education. Work to improve competence in strategy management, project work and cooperation skills is also recommended at all competence levels
- Ensure the quality of teacher education and continuing education in bioeconomy and circular economy themes
- Support the development of competence in the workplaces and among working-age people through long-term development of continuous learning, which responds to changing development prospects, such as structural changes in the bioeconomy caused by the circular economy and digitalisation and demographic changes. Resources will be allocated for organising education and training in accordance with the idea of continuous learning.
Responsibility: Ministry of Education and Culture, Finnish National Agency for Education, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
Actors: Vocational institutions, higher education institutions, regions, anticipation working groups, companies