Swedish-Norwegian study trip brought new perspectives to Europe

What happens when key players within digitalisation meet across countries and industries? Broadened views, new knowledge, valuable contacts, and spiring inspiration to apply in your own business. This became clear when a European delegation was invited to experience the cream of the crop of the Swedish and Norwegian forest industry.

“I expected to make new contacts and learn how the forestry value chain utilises digital solutions. My expectations were not only met, but they were also exceeded,” says Eva Eggeling, who participated in the field trip in April.

She is head of the Center for Data Driven Design of the Austrian research organisation Fraunhofer Austria Research GmbH, with business units in Graz and Klagenfurt. Eva Eggeling travelled with 15 other delegates from Austria, France, and Switzerland, representing cluster organisations, companies, and research institutes. The purpose of the visit was to learn about Nordic innovation that pushes the forestry sector in a sustainable direction.

From high-rise to 3D print

The tour started in Norway at the world’s tallest timber building, Mjøstårnet, in Brumunddal. The group also visited the climate-smart construction project Ydalir in Elverum, and the world’s most environmentally friendly furniture factory The Plus in Magnor.

In Sweden the tour bus stopped in Torsby, where Circlab – a test and development centre for 3D technology – demonstrated 3D print with renewable materials from the forest. The agenda also included presentations by the IT company Taigatech about log traceability in sawmills, and The Swedish Forest Agency shared insights regarding the Swedish Wood Strategy.

Eva Eggeling tested 3D printed chairs at Circlab

Circlab was one of the highlights for Eva Eggeling, due to its take on sustainable 3D printing.

“Circlab surprised me. I know about 3D printing, but I did not know that it could be applied to forest-based materials. The technology needs some further development before it reaches its full potential, but it looks very promising. It would be especially interesting to see how one can combine different types of wood-based materials to achieve different material properties in one printed part. That adds a new aspect to the topic.”

Useful connections

Another especially valuable result for Eva, whose teams specialise in artificial intelligence and visual computing among other things, was to connect with Moelven and share ideas on how to use data for increased efficiency and sustainable development. This fits well into Eva’s field of research, and she predicts future collaboration opportunities with her newly found contacts.

The innovativeness of Norwegian timber construction also made an impression and inspired her, even though it is not directly applicable in her daily work. Both Mjøstårnet and The Plus, that are built to help reduce CO2 emissions, raised awareness of how environmental challenges can be tackled in new ways using renewable raw materials and smart, digital processes.

“Everyone we met were open and shared their views and I felt very welcomed even though I did not know anyone before I left. Both the talks and the program broadened my views and gave a lot of inspiration,” says Eva Eggeling.

“The feedback from the participants after this trip has been very uplifting and shows that networking is key in the industrial transformation. All guests were very impressed and went home with new insights into the forest bioeconomy in Scandinavia”, says Gunnar Hellerström, organiser and project manager at Paper Province.

A part of Rosewood4.0

The trip was organised as a project activity of the Horizon Europe funded project Rosewood4.0, in which Paper Province participates as a project partner and coordinator for the Scandinavian countries. The project harnesses the most innovative digital solutions in forestry, drives knowledge transfer and connects actors along the forest value chain with the aim of strengthening the sustainability of wood mobilisation, forest management and the wood industry in Europe.

You can learn more about the project ant network here: https://rosewood-network.eu/