Forest bioeconomy can help to create a more energy-efficient society with a lower carbon footprint. The Programme in Bioeconomy at the University of Eastern Finland aims to promote the growth of the forest bioeconomy and alternative uses of wood-based materials. The research carried out addresses the ecological and social implications of the bioeconomy and investigates the sustainable use of renewable natural resources.

Saastamoinen Foundation is providing the Programme in Bioeconomy at the University of Eastern Finland with more than €1 million in funding from 2016-2021. This funding covers the cost of a five-year professorship in forest bioeconomy and a coordinator for the five-year Programme. In 2021, Saastamoinen Foundation provided additional 757,000 euros of funding for 2022-2026.

Forest, wood and land-use are crucial focal points of bioeconomy-related education and research at the university. The focus on forest bioeconomy is part of the university’s social commitment to sustainability. Successful forest research and the provision of academic education in forestry give the University of Eastern Finland a competitive advantage both nationally and internationally. The objective is to develop related expertise in eastern Finland, making the university the partner of choice for bioeconomy-related research and education, in all topics relating to forest, wood and land-use in Europe. The aim of the Programme is also to initiate and develop anticipatory forest bioeconomy research and education at the University of Eastern Finland.

Multidisciplinary education in the field of bioeconomics, a high standard of research and increasingly close cooperation with businesses all enhance the draw of the University of Eastern Finland and eastern Finland in general, on a national and international level. The University is part of the European Bioeconomy University (EBU), an alliance that aims to develop and advance European bioeconomy. Bioeconomy research is also important for Finland as a whole, for it enables the country to compete on an international level as demand rises for bioeconomy-based practices and social action.

Saastamoinen Foundation supports the implementation of the Programme in Bioeconomy

The sustainable, climate-neutral, resource-efficient, forest-based bioeconomy research project FORBIO is a practical example of the Programme in Bioeconomy in use. FORBIO is funded by the  Strategic Research Council at the Academy of Finland. FORBIO is evidence of successful collaboration and synergy between different disciplines of different actors - the University, the Natural Resources Institute Finland, the European Forest Institute, the Finnish Environment Institute and the Finnish Meteorological Institute in the campus area.

The Programme in Bioeconomy is expected to result in cross-disciplinary breakthroughs which draw from the diverse perspectives of a number of disciplines including social sciences, business studies, law, chemistry, physics, biology, geography, and forest and wood research.

The Professorship in Forest Bioeconomy and the Forest Bioeconomy Symposium

In addition to research-related recruitment, the University of Eastern Finland also intends to fast-track implementation of the Programme in Bioeconomy through international activities and by improving the programme’s visibility. The aim is to use the funding for an international professorship exchange, an international working seminar at the start of the project and an international bioeconomy symposium towards the end of the project.

The Programme will be updated during 2020. A group of experts from various fields has been selected to update the programme, with Jyrki Kangas, Professor of Forest Bioeconomy as the chairman. The update will have special focus on the development of international collaboration as a key element in bioeconomy coordination.

Photo: Raija Törrönen, Bioeconomy, ©UEF