Jukka Kantola talks to Il Bioeconomista. An interview on Finnish bioeconomy

Alexander Stubb, Finnish minister of Finance and former prime minister

“Bioeconomy need to be communicated and actualized for the citizens of EU.” Jukka Kantola, Chief Executive Officer of NC Partnering, a Finnish bioeconomy advisory company, talks to Il Bioeconomista regarding the state of the art of the bioeconomy in Finland.

Interview by Mario Bonaccorso

Mister Kantola, according to the Finnish government, Finland aims for a low-carbon, energy-efficient society, founded on the use of renewable natural resources and recycled materials. For Finland bioeconomy brings an annual output of 100 billion euros, growth of exports, 100,000 new jobs and increased well-being, with due respect for the environment. What are the main pillars of the Finnish strategy on bioeconomy?

In the Finnish Biostrategy there are four main vehicles to achieve the targets. A competitive operating environment to enhance bioeconomy growth. New business will be supported by means of e.g. risk financing, bold experiments and the crossing of sectoral boundaries. A strong bioeconomy competence base by developing education, training and research.  Availability of biomasses, well-functioning raw material markets and sustainability of the use of biomass will be secured.

We in NC Partnering think that one of the most important thing is still to affect on competitiveness of bio-investment. This is matter of costs especially related to raw material at disposal.  

Do you have a system of Green Public Procurement to support the demand of bio-based product in Finland? What do you think about the U.S. Biopreferred Programme?

At the moment there is no such a programme in Finland. Certainly this is very practical way to boost bio-based products and I think we should take lessons from U.S. 

Finland has excellent research centers and some of the major players in the European bioeconomy, such as UPM, Stora Enso, Metsä Group. Is it correct to say that having a strong pulp and paper industry takes away the problem of the supply of biomass?

This is not that simple. We have to remember that companies do only own clearly less than 10% of the forest land so even major players are depending on well working wood markets. Biggest forest owner group is private owners. Also in Finland people are more urbanized and living quite often far away from their forests. So it is challenge to get their interest to get wood on move. This has been recognized also by the government and there are measures under way to stimulate wood markets. 

The need to more effectively communicate the benefits of the bioeconomy is on the agenda of the European Commission? What is the perception of the bioeconomy in the Finnish public opinion?

Fully agree. Bioeconomy need to be communicated and actualized for the citizens of EU.

Bioeconomy is getting positive perception in Finland. As forest industry has been already for a long time been one of the major industries in Finland, people do understand importance of bioeconomy. Also other field of bioeconomy like agriculture, biotech and even blue bioeconomy are getting better awareaness among the people. 

Next April 12-13 the Netherlands will host the 4th European Bioeconomy Stakeholders Conference. What are your expectations?

I would anticipate there will be more discussions on versatile and sustainable utilization of the biomass. Quite long focus has been with energy applications – though important, but we should not forget other sectors like materials. 

Jukka Kantola

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