UPM’s Biofore strategy is based on the versatile use of renewable wood biomass, combined with innovation, resource efficiency and sustainability. UPM’s R&D efforts result in many innovations, and sometimes these innovations cannot directly be used in UPM’s core business areas. The turnover potential of a new technology or business idea may be too small for UPM or an idea may not be suitable for the purposes of UPM’s business areas. In this case, UPM may seek alternative routes for commercialising the new technology. One of these routes is licensing or selling a technology or patent to a partner who assumes responsibility for its further development and commercialisation.
Green Campus Innovations (GCI), an investment company established in 2012 by Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT), is one of UPM’s partners in commercialising innovations that cannot directly be used in UPM’s core business areas. The collaboration between the university, the investment company and UPM enables the partners to combine their competencies in bioeconomy, industrial engineering and management, business administration, and marketing. LUT and UPM have a long history of research collaboration, and the fact that UPM’s research centre is located in Lappeenranta makes the partnership a natural choice.
In 2015, UPM and LUT signed a license contract concerning the Biokenno technology developed by UPM. LUT has applied and received funding for the further development and commercialisation of the licensed technology from Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. GCI will play an important role in commercialising the Biokenno technology and in developing the business around it.
The (Biokenno) technology has been licensed to the university which will assemble a research group for carrying out further research and identifying opportunities for commercialising the product. The idea is that after the two-year project, the technology and accumulated know-how can be transferred to a new company that will be established to continue the business. BioKenno is a biodegradable, board-based growing medium that market gardens can use to replace materials such as rock wool.
UPM and GCI are also about to launch a project focusing on the research of industrial symbioses. The project will make use of the Nordic Innovation Accelerator platform that brings together potential companies and investors. The project is one of various UPM development projects that aim to find new end uses for the side streams of the Kaukas mill site and new partners to commercialise these streams. The goal is to create new business and develop an Industrial Symbiosis concept for UPM. Business collaboration is always about business, but also about creating growth and new employment.