A new Swedish National Research Platform has been launched with the aim to strengthen the country's bioeconomy advantage. Called Treesearch, the new platform will investigate forest-derived material innovations in the hope of being able to manufacture high-value products such as batteries, window glass and medical implants in the future.
The Swedish government’s goal is that Sweden will be a carbon-neutral society by 2050 and the world’s first fossil-free welfare state. Through the research and innovation proposition, the government is investing SEK 1.255 billion (≈ EUR 128.88 million) in various cooperation programmes, where the transition to circular and bio-based economy is one of the priority areas.
The focus on research and increasing the competence to develop new material from the forest is part of that work. Vinnova, the Swedish Innovation Agency plans to support Treesearch with up to SEK 70 million (≈ EUR 7.19 million) over a four-year period.
Green gold has played an important role historically in raising Sweden up from poverty and building our prosperity and will continue to do so in the future. The forest is crucial in the transition to a fossil-free and bio-based economy. Therefore, it is so important that we continue to develop new climate-smart forest-derived materials, said Sven-Erik Bucht, Minister for Rural Affairs in a statement.
Behind Treesearch is amongst others the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Linköping University, Max IV (Lund University) and Chalmers University of Technology and forest industry majors including BillerudKorsnäs, Holmen, Stora Enso, SCA and Södra. The idea is that all the research on forest materials and speciality chemicals will be aggregated on Treesearch and made accessible to all, in a bid to make Sweden a world leader in research and industrial development.
The Treesearch project is funded under the government’s cooperation programme Circular and Biobased Economy. This is a good example of how academia, industry and the private sector can rally to strengthen the work on innovation, saidMikael Damberg, Minister for Industry and Innovation.
Within the framework of the National Treesearch Platform, additional emphasis will be placed on increasing the skills of industry and university researchers, including training future doctorates. This is to increase Sweden’s ability to translate research results into innovations for the future. As an open environment with powerful collaboration between universities and industry, the platform will also attract younger researchers and more companies. Treesearch aims to provide career opportunities for at least 250 researchers.
Vinnova plans to contribute up to SEK 70 million (≈ EUR 7.19 million) to the cooperation platform until 2020. In the first phase, SEK 6 million (≈ EUR 620 000) has been granted to initiate and establish the project.
This type of cooperation is important for strengthening innovation capacity. Through this initiative, Sweden can take the lead in moving towards a sustainable society while strengthening the competitiveness of companies, said Charlotte Brogren, Director General of Vinnova.