Wood U Make It Happen? – Finnish forest industry launches an innovation contest for students

Relascope is an example of a very simple forest-related invention. It is used to estimate the amount of timber in a forest. Photo: Krista Kimmo

In connection with the centennial celebrations of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation, university students get to participate in an innovation contest with prizes not to sneeze at.

The history of forest industries has always been the history of innovations. It is therefore particularly apt to start the centennial celebrations by announcing an innovation contest.

“Looking towards the future is the best way to respect the past. Now is the turn of future experts to show how the forest industry can remain competitive,” says Timo Jaatinen, the Federation’s Executive Director.

Calling all crackerjacks, no matter what the field

The Wood U Make It Happen contest is open to all university-level students studying in Finland, of whatever nationality. They just have to study in Finland.

Also, there are no limitations on the field of study – in fact, the more fields the merrier. The contest looks for fresh viewpoints and new ideas for forest industry and to solve the problems of humankind, such as population growth and combating climate change.

Alina Ruonala-Lindgren, Head of Innovations at the Finnish Forest Industries Federation, says that the contest wants to encourage entrants to work across disciplinary boundaries. “We are looking for new ideas about the future directions of forest industries.”

Forest industry in Finland has, of course, much longer traditions than just a hundred years. After all, if you build wooden boats for a living, that can also count as industry.

The same goes for forest industry organisations. In the beginning of 1918 there were three organisations promoting the interests of forest industry: one for paper mills, one for wood grinderies and one for chemical pulp mills.

These organisations set up a joint office in September 1918, but very soon it was found necessary to include the sawmilling industries in the same organisation. This is how the predecessor of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation, called the Central Union for Wood Processing Industries, was founded on the 18th of December, 1918.

Expectations are high

The students may participate individually or as teams. The entry may be a new product, service or procedure, as long as wood plays a central part.

The forest industry companies offer support and guidance for the contestants. Requests for support are to be directed to the Federation, which will forward them to suitable companies.

Entries should be submitted on the 16th of April at the latest. By early May, the jury will choose 6–8 entries for the second round of the contest. Those continuing will also be supported, whether with the content of the entry or with how to present it.

Those selected for the second round will present their work on the 31st of May at the PulPaper fair in Helsinki. Three best works will be chosen for presentation at the centennial celebration event of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation, on the 27th of September.

The best entries will receive prizes, the first one being EUR 10,000, the second 5,000 and the third 3,000.

Maija Itkonen, Chair of the jury, is looking forward to seeing the entries. “Innovations in bioeconomy are the strength of Finns. I believe that the students will submit bold and creative propositions,” says Itkonen.

Support for developing the contest entry may be requested at the address innovationcontest@forestindustries.fi.


Homepage of Wood U Make It Happen contest


 

The jury of the Wood U Make It Happen contest

  • Chair, Maija Itkonen, founder of the Gold&Green Foods company
  • Olli Bremer, Client Development Director, Demos, Helsinki
  • Jarmo E. Heinonen, Director, Business Finland
  • Veera Eskelin, Manager, Technology Strategy, UPM
  • Tuomas Mustonen, Executive Director, Paptic
  • Mikko Saavalainen, Senior Vice President, Business Development, Metsä Wood
Author

Hannes Mäntyranta

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