The future grows in the forest

“To achieve a green transition, we must dare to question and show new ways and contexts for our entrepreneurs. We must be courageous, open-minded and collaborative. This way, we promote innovation, sustainability, and long-term vision for the forest in the future”, says Sandra Sundbäck, CEO of Paper Province.

The strategic idea of Paper Province is to develop the forest-based bioeconomy in practice. To achieve this, the business cluster has more than 120 member companies that owns and develops the organization and its business. Swedish regions, academia and municipalities are also involved. The cluster is based in central Sweden with access to large industrial facilities, a diversified business community, infrastructure, renewable raw materials, and expertise in, for example, manufacturing, process technology and forestry.

Sandra Sundbäck

New products and services

Through Paper Province’s broad platform and network, it is it possible to realize new products and services in the forest-based bioeconomy. Through cluster collaboration and making resources available, opportunities are created, in order for research and ideas in the early stages to be scaled up and commercialized. For instance, innovators, companies, academia, and the public work together in projects to find solutions to a common challenges and tackle joint opportunities. To Paper Province, this is open innovation.

“Collaboration is extremely important for the transition to a fossil-free society. The forest is not infinite as we all know, but through collaboration, the industry can become more circular and sustainable.” says Sandra Sundbäck.

Open innovation environment

Examples of open innovation environments are testbeds. Testbeds are physical or digital environments where companies and innovators, in a practical sense, can test new ideas during the development phase.

Sandra Sundbäck says that the LignoCity testbed is a great example. Situated in the heart of Värmland, a forest and industry-dense region in Sweden, LignoCity has successfully created synergies in how the residual product lignin can be recovered from local pulp and paper mills.

Research is underway here and the potential of lignin is enormous. It can be used, for example, to produce biofuels, carbon fibre, bioplastics and building materials.

Another testbed in Värmland that Paper Province is involved in operating is FFLAM, the Fossil-Free Laminates testbed. The aim here is to find biobased alternatives to replace fossil-based materials in food packaging. A third example is The Wood Region, which focuses on additive manufacturing with forest-based raw materials.

“We put a lot of effort into creating these open test environments. This is because when stakeholders in a value-chain start working together, we can create innovation and attract new companies, skills, and capital. In this way, we accelerate the green transition and contribute to achieving the goals in Agenda 2030”, Sandra concludes.

Read more about testbeds and open innovation here >

At a testbed you can test new ideas practically during the development phase. For example, to test and demonstrate new processes and solutions. LignoCity is an open industrial environment to find new applications for lignin, and one of many testbeds that Paper Province is involved in developing.