Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä's speech in 2017 Bioeconomy Investment Summit

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment 14.12.2017 15.44
Speech

Finlandia-house, 14.12.2017

Distinguished Chair, dear colleagues, friends

It is a great pleasure for me to be here today with you and to share my thoughts on Finnish bioeconomy.

Companies, governments and individual consumers have awakened to the problems caused by climate change and waning natural resources. At the global level, we will have less to share food, energy and fresh water resources in the future. We are on the edge of a new economic era of sustainable bio-based economy.

In 2014 the Finnish government published the National Bioeconomy Strategy, based on a major mobilization of stakeholders representing the bioeconomy. They were consulted in five workshops, three regional bioeconomy forums and sectoral consultations. All those interested in the topic were also invited to express their views.

The strategic goals of the Bioeconomy Strategy are:

1. A competitive operating environment for the bioeconomy,

2. New business from the bioeconomy,

3. A strong bioeconomy competence base,

4. Accessibility and sustainability of biomasses.

The strategy has set the objective to push the bioeconomy output to 100 billion euro by 2025 and to create 100 000 new jobs. To implement such objectives, we have identified in our governmental program five strategic priorities, one of them being the bioeconomy and clean solutions. These strategic priorities are supported by the establishment of key projects and allocation of funding to them.

Bioeconomy is a great opportunity for country like Finland with large forest resources and a strong forest sector. About half of the Finnish bioeconomy is forest based. The Finnish forest sector has strong know-how in forestry, forest industries, and technology, but also in sectors such as chemistry, food and health sciences. Well-established cooperation and combined technologies in these fields make Finland a real forerunner in bioeconomy.

Our forest sector will have central part of the implementation of bioeconomy strategy. Main objective is to increase the use of wood and innovative wood based products. These products include various kinds of transport fuels, bio-oil and biogas, dissolving pulp, micro fibrillated cellulose, wood composites and construction materials.

But we should not forget that the role of the traditional forest industry is crucial, because it forms a solid platform for the development of new innovative bioproducts.

The use of natural resources in a sustainable way economically, environmentally and socially, is the fundamental principle. Finland is well-known for growing forest resources that are managed in a sustainable manner and that are mainly certified.

To support the bioeconomy, it is important that wood raw material is available for the market, as the annual growth of forests in Finland is much greater than the volume of trees that are annually harvested.

Different types of economic actors have become interested in the business opportunities that are embedded in Finnish bioeconomy.  Forest industry investments have started to grow; total value of on-going and planned projects is estimated to be over 3 billion euros. For instance Metsä Group just finalized constructions of large bio product factory in Äänekoski, central Finland.

In addition to high-quality pulp, the mill intends to produce bioenergy and various biomaterials. The mill site already hosts several other wood processing companies, and the number is set to increase.

Appropriate financing mechanisms are needed for basic research to innovation and commercialization of new products. At the European level the Horizon 2020 program should continue to promote research and innovation on bioeconomy as well as the related business models and pilot projects.

If simplifying a little bit, we have in Finland only two main resources: forests and educated people. And this combination makes Finland a world leader in the forest- based bioeconomy.

With these words, I would like to thank for the possibility to take part in the opening of 2017 Bioeconomy Investment Summit.