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Redefining Bioeconomy – From Research to Action, 5.3.2020

Updated: Feb 10, 2021

FinnCERES organizes a public seminar “Redefining Bioeconomy” in Dipoli on March 5, 2020.

Future Bioeconomy is based on high value products utilizing the ingenuity of nature with renewable plant-based materials.

Lignocellulose offers solutions for sustainable textiles, novel packaging, air and water purification, electronics, energy storage and energy harvesting. It has a myriad of inherent, functional capabilities that can outplay its fossil based counter parts. Bioeconomy is not only about replacing fossils, it is also about creating entirely new materials.


Welcoming words

Janne Laine, Vice President for Innovation, Aalto University

Janne Laine has served in various leadership positions at Aalto University as: Dean of the School of Chemical Engineering, Head and Vice Head of Forest Products Technology and Professor of Forest Products Chemistry. He also holds several international positions of trust. At Aalto, he has built programmes for industrial collaboration, entrepreneurship and multidisciplinary research, and has been responsible for commercialising Ioncell™ and AaltoCell™ technologies. Tens of patents and several startup companies have emerged from projects under his leadership.

The Future of Finnish Bioeconomy

Jussi Manninen, Executive Vice President, VTT

As Executive Vice President of VTT’s Solutions for Natural Resources and Environment business area, Jussi Manninen leads a department of 450 people and promotes collaboration among Finnish and European partners and financiers. He has had a 17-year career at VTT. He has been involved in creating the Finnish bioeconomy strategy and putting it into practice as a Programme Director for the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. He is familiar with both the research world and its policy landscape. Manninen believes technological know-how is not enough: We also need good policies to support societal change.

Groundbreaking science in advanced cellulose materials research

Professors Orlando Rojas and Tekla Tammelin

Orlando Rojas is Professor in the Bioproducts and Biosystems Department at Aalto University and co-director of the FinnCERES competence center. He is the 2018 Recipient of the Anselme Payen Award and an elected Fellow of the American Chemical Society and the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. His research team at Aalto, Biobased Colloids and Materials (BiCMat), works on uncovering answers to today’s material needs that may be found in nature. There are plenty of sustainable resources around us, including plants, marine shells and animals as well as biomass waste. Most of the team’s work deals with small objects (colloids), including fibers, particles or other things with shapes that are not well defined. He has published over 350 peer-reviewed papers and is recognized worldwide for his scientific impact in the area of nanocelluloses.

Tekla Tammelin is a Research Professor in Biomaterials Engineering and Design at VTT as well as a co-director of the FinnCERES competence center. Her research has focused on lignocellulosic building blocks, especially on nanocellulose-based material solutions. Her research draws on the intrinsic properties of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin, and on the functionality of the plant cell wall system. Lately her teams have focused on utilizing plant-derived materials as selective membranes for water purification systems, on substrates for printed electronics and on optical structures as well as active immobilization matrices for chemical producing micro-organisms. She is a recipient of Akzo Nobel Nordic Research Prize on surface chemistry of cellulose fibers and in 2016 she received a VTT Award on Exceptional Scientific Excellence.

Biobased Solar Panels and Energy Storage

Kati Miettunen, Aalto University

Plant-based materials can be used in solar cells and other optoelectronic devices. Miettunen’s background is in development of functional materials for emerging solar technologies, such as in dye solar cells. Besides developing materials for flexible solar cells and upscaling the technology, she studies the lifetime issues and sustainability of these technologies. Her Academy of Finland fellowship focuses on bio-based materials solutions and uses computational methods in experimental lifetime testing of solar devices.

Biocapture of Microplastics

Ilona Leppänen, VTT

Nanocellulose films can capture harmful nano- and microplastics in the environment. The research presented at the event looks at how interactions of micro- and nanoplastics with different cellulosic materials can provide tools for removal, quantification and qualification of the invisible nano-/colloidal microplastics from the environment. The research opens wide application potential, especially for filtering waste water. Leppänen is a Research Scientist at VTT pursuing a doctoral degree in Bioproduct Technology at Aalto University related to functional nanocellulose materials.

Nanocellulose and Photosynthetic Microbes

Ville Rissanen, VTT

Nanocellulose has shown great potential as the perfect immobilization matrix for microalgae. Certain microalgae can be utilized as cell factories, i.e. catalysts for capturing CO2 and producing specialty chemicals, biofuels and pharmaceuticals via photosynthesis. Normally, algae are harnessed in highly diluted water suspensions with limited efficiency, but this can be overcome via nanocellulose immobilization, which dramatically reduces the use of water and energy. The nanocellulose matrix is able to transport nutrients and water for the algae and also amplify the light penetration for photosynthesis. Rissanen is a research scientist and doctoral candidate at VTT in Functional Cellulose team, with a background in biochemistry and bioproduct technology. His research focuses on functional nanocellulosic structures and their interactions with other materials ranging from inorganic aerosol nanoparticles to living microalgae cells.

From Academia to Business

Investor Will Cardwell, Courage Venture Funds

Will Cardwell is a partner in venture capital and advisory firms Courage Ventures (Finland) and Open Circle Capital (Lithuania), and Professor of the Practice of Finance and Entrepreneurship at Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina. He has been involved as an investor or advisor with startups in more than 15 countries across the USA, Europe and Africa. As a venture capitalist and angel investor, he has been part of more than 50 seed and early stage investments, with primary sectors of interest in digital education, health and the environment. Recently he has taken a special interest in impact investing. In Finland, he has taught and mentored hundreds of Aalto students and dozens of local companies.

Juha Salmela, CTO and Co-founder of Spinnova Juha Salmela is CTO and co-founder of Spinnova. Spinnova develops pure bio-based materials for the textile industry with a unique method. The idea behind the award-winning technology first came to life in 2009 when Salmela, a team leader and cellulose-expert at VTT, was researching nanocellulose and heard about similarities between it and spiderwebs. Spinnova was founded in 2015, and since then, the company has been able to bring the technology to commercial use. He has also led several large industrial development projects.

Meri Lundahl, Head of Material Innovations, Teraloop

Meri Lundahl is a biomaterial scientist and sustainability activist working as Head of Material Innovations at Teraloop. The company’s product, Teraloop, is a grid-scale energy storage system. The system utilizes passive levitation, electromagnetic stabilization and permanent magnet synchronous technologies to provide future alternatives to batteries. Lundahl’s doctoral dissertation “Wet-spinning of Cellulose Nanofibril Hydrogels” was awarded the Aalto University Dissertation Award.

Henrietta Kekäläinen, CEO and Co-Founder of Carbo Culture

Henrietta Kekäläinen is the CEO and co-founder of Carbo Culture. The company is a trailblazer in turning biomass waste into high-end products. The process cleans excess carbon from the atmosphere by utilizing woody waste materials, turning them into a stable form: biocarbon. Henrietta’s previous positions, such as founder of and board member of Yleiselektroniikka Oy embody her enthusiasm for science. She is a popular event speaker.

The Biomaterials Revolution

Alex Williamson, CEO and Founder of World Bio Markets

Alex Williamson has spent the last 15 years building business networks within the media, events and business intelligence industries. An entrepreneur with two successful exits to his name, he committed to leverage his skillset to launch a meaningful venture with genuine, positive impact for the planet. This led to the launch of Bio Market Insights in 2015. Today, it is the leading professional platform and media outlet for the bioindustry, driving the connection and commercialization of the bio value chain across agriculture and food, chemicals and materials, and healthcare. World Bio Markets also hosts a leading industry event annually that focuses on commercialization of the bioeconomy.

Novel Concepts of Wood Fractionation

Herbert Sixta, Aalto University

Traditional kraft pulping of biomaterials to produce pulp and later paper, is a relatively rough exercise. In future biorefineries, traditional kraft pulping will be complemented with various new and more refined methods. These methods will enable selective ways to isolate lignocellulosic building blocks with better or entirely new properties compared to traditional pulping. Novel processes increase the yield of higher value fractions as well as create entirely new functional fractions.Professor Sixta is Head of the Bioproducts and Biosystems Department at Aalto University as well Head of the Biorefineries Research Group. He has received many prestigious awards for his work in industrial research on pulp and cellulose chemistry. His core interest comprises the use of tailored ionic liquids for the selective dissolution of different biopolymers as a novel way of biomass fractionation.

Biocapture of Hormones

Hannes Orelma, VTT

Hormones and other pharmaceuticals ending up in natural waters are globally a significant environmental problem. VTT and Aalto University have developed a wood-based cellulose fibre yarn that is an affordable solution for capturing pharmaceutical substances – especially those found in contraceptive pills – that would otherwise end up in bodies of water.Orelma is a Research Team Leader of Functional Cellulose team at VTT. His background is in surface and colloid science of lignocellulose materials, and he does research actively from academic-oriented fundamental science to industry-related application development.

Functional Biofilms to Decrease Use of Single Use Plastics

Ali Harlin, VTT

Just introducing bio-based materials that can replace plastic isn’t enough. The new materials should be superior in features and in intelligence. For example, the next generation of packaging materials, especially for foodstuffs, should be able to block UV rays that turn salads soggy and kill vitamins. Bio-based packaging with health benefits sounds like a game changer and that is one of the things Research Professor Ali Harlin’s team is working on.Research Professor Harlin has had a long experience in petrochemical and technology industries as a researcher, director and inventor. At the moment he is working as professor in material science developing and commercializing renewable material concepts.


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