Grow with Biofore — Slush and UPM looking to create momentum for bioeconomy

Esa Laurinsilta
Esa Laurinsilta
Director, Strategic Partnerships, UPM
5 November 2015

Slush is one of the world’s most important company events for technology and growth. Over 3000 startup enterpreneurs looking for finance and sparring partners to support their businesses and business concepts are meeting with and pitching their ideas to the executives of the world’s most successful technology companies, private equity investors and the media.

Why, then, is UPM one of the key partners of Slush? What is a forest company doing at an ICT and game fair? Over recent years, Slush has expanded to include health technology and cleantech applications, among others. Topics such as the bioeconomy and circular economy are also on the agenda for this year’s Slush event. It is important for us to be involved in Slush and to see and hear for ourselves what is going on in the startup field. We also want to challenge startup entrepreneurs to view the bioeconomy and the forest with fresh eyes.

slush
Photo: Sami Heiskanen

The bioeconomy sector needs an increasing number of bioeconomy startup businesses and companies and business angels investing in it. Limitations in the domestic market and a comprehensive need for investment are among the real challenges that new bioeconomy enterpreneurs are facing.  UPM alone does not have the resources to develop the bioeconomy startup field, which is why co-operation between different parties is needed.

We see plenty of opportunities to co-operate with businesses of different sizes and are constantly looking for new ways to work and develop our operations. I am certain that we have not yet fully realised the process and business potential brought to us by the industrial Internet. UPM Forest will present a tangible challenge to application developers at Slush: How do we combine traditional forest management and wood trade with mobile technology in an interesting way? How do we bring the forest to the pockets of the new generation of forest owners?

Challenging existing business models and creating new ones is an important task, for both our existing and new business operations. Commercialising the ideas and patents outside UPM’s main focus has already proven to be a good way of collaborating.

We are actively developing new technologies and processes for both our current and new business areas. In accordance with our Biofore strategy, we are moving towards a carbon neutral future, where the focus of development is on material and energy efficiency, recycling and recyclability.

Putting forest industry sidestreams to good use is one of the most promising opportunities to develop new business based on a circular economy. Our aim is to reduce waste and find new solutions within all business sectors. We challenge startups to develop new ideas and opportunities for using slurry, ash and, in particular, waste heat derived from the pulp and paper process. For example, the UPM Kaukas mill site continuously produces at least 20 MW of waste heat — enough to provide heating to over 10,000 detached houses.

This is not the first startup event we have become involved in. We have strong faith in being able to promote business development and innovation by working together with our partners. Last week, I visited the Cleantech Venture Day in Lahti, Finland. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet the experts involved in circular economy and challenge the cleantech startup businesses to develop new uses for forest industry sidestreams. I received concrete suggestions for solutions right after my presentation, and am expecting to see a repeat of this at the Slush event.

Do you have a proposal for co-operation with UPM that we might be interested in? Contact us or come meet with us at Slush!

Read more about collaborating with UPM here »

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