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WoodWisdom-Net+ Pacing Innovation in the Forest-Based Sector

WoodWisdom-Net+ Pacing Innovation in the Forest-Based Sector

Final Report Summary - WOODWISDOM-NET+ (WoodWisdom-Net+ Pacing Innovation in the Forest-Based Sector)

Executive Summary:
The aim of the WoodWisdom-Net+ Action was to comprise the joint implementation of a trans-national call from the preparation and the publication of the call (MS1 – Call published, planned delivery date Month 4) to the evaluation, selection (MS3 - Evaluation Step 2 completed, projects recommended for funding, M15) and funding of proposals (MS4 - National funding decisions completed/ RDI projects start, M19) as well as the project monitoring and follow-up between several national and/or regional programmes. The joint trans-national call addressed the whole forest-based value chain, from the sustainable management of forest resources through their efficient utilisation in industrial processes to value added products and competitive customer solutions.

The 4th Joint Call for Proposals within the WoodWisdom-Net Research Programme was launched in spring 2013, under the ERA-NET Plus Scheme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) of the European Commission. The call for pre-proposals resulted in 80 proposals.

During May-June 2013 the funding organisations participating in the WoodWisdom-Net+ Joint Call checked the eligibility of the pre-proposals and their suitability for national funding. June 11-12 the funding agency representatives met in Riga, Latvia, to discuss the outcomes. After the discussions the funding organisations decided to invite altogether 33 proposals to submit a full proposal until 16 September 2013. The pre-proposal assessment results (incl. a joint assessment statement) were communicated to the applicants on June 17-18, 2013.

The evaluation step two selected and ranked the proposals based on the evaluation criteria stated in Annex III to the Call Text. Each proposal submitted to this second step was evaluated by three independent experts appointed by the funding organisations. After the judgement of an international Expert Panel (including 12 experts) and based on the ranked list of proposals, in November 2013 the WoodWisdom-Net+ Steering Committee selected 23 projects for funding. The total budget announced in the selected projects is more than 32 MEUR, out of which the total amount of requested public funding around 23 MEUR.

In total, the proposals include 255 different partner organisations: SMEs (28%), large companies (19%), research organisations (21%), universities (20%), and others (12%; incl. co-funding companies, industrial associations etc.).

The projects cover all the thematic research areas of the call. Most projects are focusing on research issues related to Theme 2 “Value added products” (10), Theme 2 “Industrial processes” (7), and Theme 4 “Competitive customer solutions” (5), while only one proposal stated that its main thematic research area is under Theme 1 “Sustainable management of forest resources”. However, all proposals indicated that their research is connected to more than just one of the listed research areas.

The proposals selected for funding involve partners from 13 different countries including third countries such as Belgium, Canada and the United States. The coordinators of the projects come from eight countries (Austria, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland), most of the proposals having either a Finnish (8) or German (6) coordinator.

The official kick-off of the projects took place in connection with the 6th WoodWisdom-Net Research Programme Seminar on 9-10 April, 2014 at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. The projects presented their Year 1 results at the 7th WoodWisdom-Net Research Programme Seminar on 14-15 September at Empa Academy in Dübendorf (close to Zürich), Switzerland. The final seminar of the Research Programme that was held in The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in Scotland on 4-5 April 2017. This public seminar brought together around 100 researchers and stakeholders from industry, academia and policy-making organisations in the forest-based sector.

The final results and their potential impacts and use are multiple, varying from environmental impacts of the new processes to increased communication of the relevance of the European forest-based sector and its products for a sustainable bio-economy.
Project Context and Objectives:
WoodWisdom-Net+ will support the transformation of the European F-BI and sustainable forest management to increasing its resource efficiency and adapting to and mitigating climate change effects. It will concentrate on the substitution of non-renewable resources by renewable forest-based solutions to reduce carbon emissions and waste. It will also incorporate changes in raw material availability and composition due to anticipated impacts of environmental and climate change on forest resources. The joint trans-national call is addressing the whole forest-based value chain, from the sustainable management of forest resources through their efficient utilisation in industrial processes to value added products and competitive customer solutions.

Reduced fragmentation by improved cooperation and basis for long-lasting cooperation

Europe faces a serious drawback compared to US and Japan, if it is to support the large transformation mentioned above. Presently, research is fragmented and mainly organised on a national level, which hinders the development of a unified European research area. It is in this context that WoodWisdom-Net+ will extend the co-ordination and integration of a common European research platform from the sustainable management of forest resources through their efficient utilisation in industrial processes to value-added products.

> By collaborating on cutting-edge technologies WoodWisdom-Net+ will provide the critical mass needed to develop new technologies and approaches.

Strengthening and streamlining the knowledge exchange system (developed during the preceding ERA-Nets) between the current national programmes and stakeholders, will improve the coordination and efficiency of research commissioning in the forest management and F-BI research areas. Given the size of the national research bodies and stakeholders involved in WoodWisdom-Net+ with new core partners and associated partners, the co-ordination of these on a European scale will create a European research area of unprecedented size, making European S&T within the area a global leader.

The research community along the forest-based value chain will benefit from trans-national cooperation because it supports greater collaboration between European countries with common interests. It will bring together leading research groups in the fields of forestry, wood properties, wood materials and engineering, pulp, paper, and wood products together with the F-BI in the wood working industries. If the transformation of the sector is to be achieved, then research and development must work with a trans-national perspective and actively develop R&D culture and processes. WoodWisdom-Net+ will promote the industry – academia collaboration throughout the whole innovation chain from science to business.

Capitalising the experience of joint calls and coordinated activities

WoodWisdom-Net+ has its origin in the Finnish-Swedish Wood Material Science and Engineering (WMS) Research Programme (2003-2007). This was the first step towards creating a common research platform in the area of wood material science and engineering. An evaluation of the programme was conducted in early 2008, with the main outcomes being improved understanding by the research community and funding organisations of the benefits to be achieved from bilateral collaboration.

The preceding WoodWisdom-Net ERA-Nets were successful in mobilising significant industrial cofounding within the trans-national programme (e.g. in the 1st Call 15% of a total call volume of 20 M€ was industrial funding) because they addressed the strategic interest of the European F-BI, e.g. through the Building with Wood Programme of CEI-Bois. However, active industrial participation in the actual work of the research and development projects could still be improved.

Based on this experience, the 2nd phase of WoodWisdom-Net paid special attention to industrial involvement through targeted workshops with invited experts (such as innovation leaders of leading companies, and FTP). An industry advisory panel was involved, and commented on draft calls. This was supported by a dedicated call for applied/development projects with SME/industry participation (Call 2 launched in 2009). Furthermore, strategic industry needs were met by close collaboration with the European Forest-Based Sector Technology Platform (FTP).

WoodWisdom-Net 2 resulted in a strong network and suitable basis for enduring cooperation between the partners involved. Yet, there was still a need to deepen the established integration, to reinforce the collaboration both among the partners and among the different stakeholders, and to streamline the processes. Since WoodWisdom-Net 2 the economic situation has changed drastically, requiring forest owners and industry to adapt and transform even more dynamically. In addition, several policies have come into play, which need to be addressed by the research network.

WoodWisdom-Net+ is aiming to have a larger representation of European interests in the transformation to a renewable based Europe, and one that is based on sustainable forest management and wood material science and engineering and closely related sectors. WoodWisdom-Net+ is especially focusing on stimulating consortia between forest management oriented institutes and wood materials science institutes. These will cover topics from change in raw material availability and composition to value-added products and competitive customer solutions. It will adopt a global approach and will therefore also encourage the involvement of partners from relevant non-EU countries. Furthermore, the dialogue with different European and global associations will be strengthened.

Addressing issues of common interest with socio-economic relevance recognised at global level

As indicated in the overall project objectives, a key element of WoodWisdom-Net+ is to promote the industrial transformation of the European F-BI across the whole value chain to renewable forest-based solutions and reduce carbon emissions and waste. An additional key pre requisite for the industry will be to take into account the change in raw material availability and composition due to anticipated impacts of environmental and climate change.

> This should lead to a new generation of high value-added, eco-efficient, competitive and innovative products, based on sustainably managed forests, themselves adapted to and more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

A continuously innovative and forward looking European F-BI is essential if the European industry is to be transformed from a resource-intensive to a knowledge-intensive industry. The efficient use of wood as a renewable resource, substituting for limited non-renewable resources, will reduce the resource-intensity of wider European industry. But it requires intensive knowledge to develop new wood-based applications with high added value. This knowledge needs to be created in a common European Research Area in those fields which will be strengthened by WoodWisdom-Net+.

In order to achieve all this, there is a need to take advantage of process and product developments through alliances with other sectors and to exploit emerging technologies, (as also indicated in the FTP SRA (Strategic Research Agenda) and in the FTP Vision 2030). There is a clear need to engage scientists in a multi-disciplinary approach, stretching from the natural and technical sciences to the social, economic and medical sciences. The FTP has good collaboration with other Technology Platforms, which will ensure a multi-sectorial dimension in WoodWisdom-Net+. Some examples are ‘PROsumer.NET’ on consumer goods, ‘BUILDING UP’ on more efficient energy buildings, as well as ‘Star-COLIBRI’ on bio-refineries (finished Oct 2011) and ‘BECOTEPS’ on bio-economy (finished Feb 2011).

Impact of activities on national and regional research programmes

Dissemination of the work done within WoodWisdom-Net will mainly occur through the information exchange arrangements, though seminars, workshops and training missions will also be part of it. The type of information which will be distributed will include best practice guidance, benchmarking results, research programmes and industrial or technical implementation case studies. Part of the information will be accessible by parties outside the network, to ensure that it remains open and transparent in order to attract additional resources and grow the European research area. The information from the network will mainly be targeted at industry, researchers, European, national and regional decision-makers and advisory bodies, but will also address issues of interest to the general public.

> A common, transnational programme will be based on a joint analysis of research needs and priorities that will facilitate allocation of resources to areas of highest strategic importance.

Coordinated research efforts will create a foundation for the establishment of structures and critical masses required for substantial industrial and societal impacts, and for which national funding alone is insufficient. The implementation of best practice protocols within the participating research funding and managing organisations may lead to a higher efficiency in the administration of programmes. The network will also promote further development of quality criteria that can be used as tools for ultimately raising the competitiveness and standard of European wood material research. Opportunities for harmonisation and mutual opening of the national programmes will be identified and realised.

Special actions will be set up for effective technology transfer to the European industry and stakeholders. In this context IPR and proprietary knowledge must be included as part of the dissemination by the network.

Contribution to policies

The EU2020 strategy on Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive growth has set five headline targets. WoodWisdom-Net+ will contribute to three of them in employment, energy and R&D innovation. In a sustainable economy wood will have a key role as a vast biomass feedstock for a number of applications, e.g. fibre composites, wood construction systems, fine chemicals, biofuels, and intelligent packaging solutions. The FTP SRA envisions: “Europe reduces its dependence on oil with the production of advanced transportation bio-fuels that form an integral part of the F-BI and create significant new business opportunities. Developments in this area will correspond to demands for the increased production of bio-fuels and overall use of renewable raw materials.“

> The results of research conducted within the trans-national WoodWisdom-Net Research Programme supported by the extensive network of previous WoodWisdom-Net 2 with the key players of the European national funding bodies and other stakeholders is having a valuable impact on sustainable development.

For example, material optimisation and new processing concepts will create energy savings of over 40% and also have a major impact on product quality through improved material properties of wood and fibres.

Besides wood being a renewable resource it is also essential for mitigation of climate change. Increasing use of wood will increase carbon storage in wood and paper products. At the same time, standing forests are a sink for CO2 and produce a resource with lower energy utilisation requirements than most non-renewable resources.

> Increasing the competitiveness and profitability of the F-BI through innovative technologies and products contributes to the Industrial leadership targets of Horizon 2020, contributes to tackling climate change, and contributes to employment.

It is obvious that society as a whole can benefit from the substitution of non-renewable materials and energy with sustainable, forest-based products. But to realize the full potential of the F-BI a balanced and stable supply of wood from sustainably managed forests is required. WoodWisdom-Net+ will therefore contribute to the targets as set under the Kyoto Protocol, the Biodiversity strategy, and the Birds and Habitats Directive.

Contribution to standards

Within the area of wood material science and engineering there are already a high number of common standards, many of them CEN based and addressing commonly traded goods, and a substantial number of forest related industries have been ISO certified. On the other hand, the lack of common standards and the diversity of national standards in the building sector is one serious barrier for the widespread use of wood for different building purposes.

> Pushing the boundaries through new research initiatives and development of new technologies will enable incremental development of existing standards in areas such as wood products and will contribute to the development of new standards as new commodities and services begin to be traded across the EU and outside the community.
Project Results:
The ERA-NET Plus Action is a new approach towards the coordination of national research programmes under FP7 through the combined research funding between Member States and the Commission FP. This approach may lead to more alignment of programme strategies between national programmes and FP7 themes. It may ensure, for the areas concerned, more complementarity between national and Community programmes and therefore contribute strongly to the structuring of the European Research Area (ERA). The WW-Net+ Action takes this a step further with the aim of reducing fragmentation across the ERA.

European forest cluster research is fragmented and that is especially the case in wood material science and engineering research, which is based on a large number of sciences in addition to forestry and the traditional wood and paper technology. There are highly specialised research groups in wood material science particularly in wood rich countries in Europe, but also within some other national programmes. However, there is still a lack of coordination at European level and cooperation of national research groups occurs, in the main, only in separate EU funded projects and in many COST actions. This fragmented research landscape needs to be overcome in order to facilitate the European Research Area and to increase the innovativity and competitiveness of the F-BI in Europe.

At the start of 2005, the following Vision for the year 2030 was adopted by the Forest-Based Sector Technology Platform (FTP): "The European forest-based sector plays a key role in a sustainable society. It comprises a competitive, knowledge-based industry that fosters the extended use of renewable forest resources. It strives to ensure its societal contribution in the context of a bio-based, customer-driven and globally competitive European economy."

During a wide stakeholder consultation process the FTP developed a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) for the F-BI, which was published in 2006. The SRA identifies 36 priority research areas in order to realise the vision 2030 for the F-BI. The areas are grouped with strategic objectives for different forest-based value chains (forestry, wood products, pulp & paper products, bio-energy, specialities).

The National Support Groups (NSG) of the FTP have developed National Research Agendas (NRA) for their respective countries in order to mirror the SRA objectives with national sector interests and to provide feedback for further development and implementation of the SRA at European level. As at July 2008 14 European countries in total have published their NRAs .

Vision 2030 and the SRA have provided the basis for the annual proposals by the FTP for new research topics to be funded by the European Commission. The revision process of the two key documents of the FTP is now underway and the first draft has been circulated for comments: Forest-Based Sector Technology Platform – Revised Strategic Research Agenda for 2020. WW-Net partners are not only following the process, but are also actively participating in it e.g. through the NSGs.

The implementation of the SRA and NRAs needs sector-wide cooperation by researchers, industry and funding organisations on a European, national and trans-national level. Trans-national cooperation is particularly necessary so that countries with large forest resources can be brought together with countries with leading industries in the forest-based value chains and with leading research groups in Europe. The WW-Net Research Programme that was launched in 2004 is a highly relevant programme for implementing the specific SRA objectives in addition to the existing national, regional and European programmes.

The WW-Net+ Action was to strengthen and broaden the on-going WW-Net Research Programme by launching a single joint call for RDI proposals within the forest sector with a clear financial commitment from the participating national (or regional) research programmes and the EU. The results of the successful WW-Net Research Programme trans-national research projects (Call 1: 17 projects, Call 2: 9, Call 3 (in collaboration with ERA-NET Bioenergy: 13) were available for the implementation of WW-Net+, and were disseminated not only through the website and other communication channels, but most importantly within the programme itself. Seminars were also used to network participants in the earlier calls with the new projects started during WW-Net+. The call topics of the WW-Net Research Programme were based both on national strategies and on strategic topics of the FTP SRA and NRAs which have a high value-added benefit to be gained from trans-national cooperation. This was to ensure a high level of commitment from the sector and a strong industrial relevance to the research.

WW-Net+ based its research funding activities on the processes and experience developed during the preceding ERA-NETs towards streamlined and efficient processes. New funding organisations and partner countries were involved, which was to broaden the reach and synergies generated by trans-national cooperation. The national programmes of the participating organisations represented the most relevant programmes on forestry, wood materials, and engineering within Europe. In addition to the funds provided by the WW-Net+ partners (and the EU topping up) there were other potential funders connected to the network, these funders being interested in mobilising additional funds for the trans-national programme if projects are relevant to them. This flexible network structure is the starting point from which long-lasting cooperation between the funding organisations can be created.

Cooperation and coordination with other relevant Technology Platforms (e.g. Construction, Biofuels, Manufacture, SusChem, ETP for Textile) was to promote the transformation of the F-BI. In addition to the close collaboration with the FTP, the WW-Net network has strong links with the relevant industry stakeholders at national (e.g. Swedish Forest Industry Association, KompetenznetzHolz (CH), Wood Industry Cluster (SI)), European (e.g. European Confederation of Woodworking Industries CEI-Bois) and international levels (e.g. new contacts are now being made via the FAO Forestry Department). They play a crucial role for mobilising co-funding for trans-national research, for implementation of the projects and for effective knowledge exchange of the results.

Cooperation with other research programmes, organisations and initiatives was to broaden the knowledge base of the F-BI. WW-Net+ coordinated the topics of the trans-national research programme to be developed with other ERA-NETs (e.g. FORESTERRA, RURAGRI, ECO-INNOVERA, EraSME) and ERA-NET Plus Actions (e.g. MATERA+) covering adjacent topics and with the EU Framework Programmes (FP7 and the coming Horizon 2020 for the years 2014-2020) to avoid duplication. WW-Net+ also carefully followed the development of the Joint Programming Initiatives (JPIs) such as the one for agriculture, food security and climate change, and the European Innovation Partnerships (e.g. EIPs on Raw Materials and on Agricultural Sustainability and Productivity).

Actions to improve synergies between the research activities of Member States and Associated States, including COST and EUREKA, were also actively followed and promoted through WW-Net+. Cooperation and information exchange with the following organisations and initiatives was fostered:

COST. The European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research (especially the domain “Forests, their products and services”). COST cooperation has been very active in facilitating networking of nationally funded research on a European level. For example, in the material science area current actions include:
o FP0702: Net-Acoustics for timber based lightweight buildings and elements,
o FP0802: Experimental and computational micro-characterisation techniques in wood mechanics,
o FP0901 Analytical techniques for Biorefineries,
o FP0904 Thermo-Hydro- Mechanical wood behaviour and processing,
o FP1003 Impact of renewable materials in packaging for sustainability,
o FP1005 Fibre suspension flow modelling,
o FP1006 Bringing new functions to wood through surface modification,
o FP1101 Assessment, reinforcement and monitoring of timber.

EUREKA. The pan-European network for market-oriented, industrial R&D. EUREKA currently has 39 full members, including all WW-Net 2 member countries. As well as the ongoing EUREKA projects there is also a relevant strategic cluster. EUREKA ‘Clusters’ are long-term, strategically significant industrial initiatives that aim to develop generic technologies of key importance for European competitiveness.

EUROSTARS. The Art.169 (today Art. 185) programme EUROSTARS is a joint initiative of EUREKA and the EU dedicated to high-risk SME research and development.

CEI-Bois. The European Confederation of woodworking industries. The "Roadmap 2010 for the European woodworking industries" is an action launched by CEI-Bois within the general vision of "Wood and wood products to become the leading material in construction and interior solutions by 2010". It comprises four areas:
o 1. Building with Wood,
o 2. Living with Wood,
o 3. Wood in Transport and Packaging,
o 4. Wood in Sustainable Development.

Among the completed trans-national projects of the 1st Call of the WoodWisdom-Net Research Programme (2006-11), four projects directly contributed to the “Building with Wood” programme and received industrial co-funding by CEI-Bois.

InnovaWood. Innovawood is an umbrella organisation of research providers that integrates four European networks in the Forest, Wood-based and Furniture industries into a more effective mechanism to support innovation in these sectors. It provides educational and research services to the sector.

FAO Forestry Department. One of FAO’s strategic goals is the sustainable management of the world’s forests. Among other things, FAO chairs the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, a group of 14 leading international organisations. The aim of the partnership is to promote the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forest and strengthen long term political commitment to this end.

EFI. The European Forest Institute is an international organisation established by European States. It is a leading institution conducting and advocating forest research and facilitating forest research networking at the pan-European level. The EFI has an extensive network made up of nearly 130 Associate and Affiliate Members and seven Project Centres. The purpose of the organisation is to undertake research at a pan-European level on forest policy, including environmental aspects, ecology, multiple use, resources and health of European forests and on the supply of and demand for timber and other forest products and services in order to promote the conservation and sustainable management of forests in Europe.

IUFRO. The International Union of Forest Research Organizations. IUFRO is a global network for forest science cooperation. It unites more than 15,000 scientists in almost 700 Member Organizations in over 110 countries. Scientists cooperate in IUFRO on a voluntary basis. The IUFRO network will be of strategic importance to promote the WoodWisdom-Net Programme on an international arena.

TAFTIE. TAFTIE is a discussion forum for European technology innovators. The goal is to co-operate in order to establish both financing for innovation and best practice within the field of technology. WW-Net organisations such as Tekes, VINNOVA, and the Research Council of Norway are also TAFTIE-members.

IEA. The International Energy Agency. IEA is an energy forum comprising 27 Member countries. This includes most of the participating countries of the preceding FP6 and FP7 WW-Net ERA-NETs such as Austria, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Hungary, Ireland, Turkey, Italy, and United Kingdom. The IEA provides support for over 40 international co-operation and collaboration agreements in energy technology R&D, deployment and information dissemination. OECD Member countries, non-Member countries and international organizations can participate. The IEA Industrial Energy-Related Technologies and Systems (IETS) program focuses on energy use in a broad range of industry sectors, uniting IEA activities in this area. The objective of IETS is to allow OECD Member countries and OECD non-Member countries to work together to foster international co-operation for accelerated research and technology development of industrial energy-related technologies and systems with the main focus on end-use technologies, but also taking into account other relevant IEA activities.
Potential Impact:
Strategic impact

WoodWisdom-Net+ was to support the transformation of the European F-BI and sustainable forest management to increase its resource efficiency and adapting to and mitigating climate change effects. It concentrated on the substitution of non-renewable resources by renewable forest-based solutions to reduce carbon emissions and waste. WoodWisdom-Net+ was also to incorporate changes in raw material availability and composition due to anticipated impacts of environmental and climate change on forest resources. The joint trans-national call was targeted to address the whole forest-based value chain, from the sustainable management of forest resources through their efficient utilisation in industrial processes to value added products and competitive customer solutions.

Today, the forest-based sector in Europe provides society with a wide variety of products and services, ranging from paper, packaging, tissue paper, furniture, carpentry and construction materials made from solid wood and wood-based panels to textile fibres, biofuels, bio-energy and speciality chemicals. In the latest draft (19.03.12) of the Revised FTP Vision 2030 the FB-I value chains fall under the following definition: “Using innovation as a basis to develop the ‘new forest-based sector’ includes playing a key role in providing society with renewable energy (heat, power and transport fuels), more sustainable wooden buildings and constructions and furnishings, replacing petroleum-based plastics in packaging and other applications, clean water technologies, future-oriented communication media, novel medicines and healthy food ingredients as well as alternative European raw materials for the production of clothing, to compete with current synthetic fibres and cotton.”

Reduced fragmentation by improved cooperation and basis for long-lasting cooperation

Europe faces a serious drawback compared to US and Japan, if it is to support the large transformation mentioned above. Presently, research is fragmented and mainly organised on a national level, which hinders the development of a unified European research area. It is in this context that WoodWisdom-Net+ was to extend the co-ordination and integration of a common European research platform from the sustainable management of forest resources through their efficient utilisation in industrial processes to value-added products.

> By collaborating on cutting-edge technologies the ERA-NET+ will provide the critical mass needed to develop new technologies and approaches for the whole forest value chain.

Strengthening and streamlining the knowledge exchange system (developed during the preceding ERA-NETs) between the current national programmes and stakeholders, will improve the co-ordination and efficiency of research commissioning in the forest management and F-BI research areas. Given the size of the national research bodies and stakeholders involved in WoodWisdom-Net+ with new core partners and associated partners, the co-ordination of these on a European scale will create a European research area of unprecedented size, making European S&T within the area a global leader.

The research community along the forest-based value chain benefited from trans-national cooperation because it supports greater collaboration between European countries with common interests. It brought together leading research groups in the fields of forestry, wood properties, wood materials and engineering, pulp, paper, and wood products together with the F-BI in the wood working industries. If the transformation of the sector is to be achieved, then research and development must work with a trans-national perspective and actively develop R&D culture and processes. WoodWisdom-Net+ promoted the industry – academia collaboration throughout the whole innovation chain from science to business.

Capitalising the experience of joint calls and coordinated activities

The WW-Net+ has its origin in the Finnish-Swedish Wood Material Science and Engineering (WMS) Research Programme (2003-2007). This was the first step towards creating a common research platform in the area of wood material science and engineering. An evaluation of the programme was conducted in early 2008, with the main outcomes being improved understanding by the research community and funding organisations of the benefits to be achieved from bilateral collaboration.

The preceding WW-Net ERA-NETs have been successful in mobilising significant industrial co-funding within the trans-national programme (e.g. in the 1st Call 15% of a total call volume of 20 M€ was industrial funding) because it addressed the strategic interest of the European F-BI, e.g. through the Building with Wood Programme of CEI-Bois. However, active industrial participation in the actual work of the research and development projects could still be improved.

Based on this experience, WW-Net+ paid special attention to industrial involvement through targeted workshops with invited experts (such as innovation leaders of leading companies, and FTP). An industry advisory panel was involved, and commented on draft calls. This was supported by a dedicated call for applied/development projects with SME/industry participation (Call 2 launched in 2009). Furthermore, strategic industry needs were met by close collaboration with the Forest Technology Platform (FTP).

WW-Net 2 resulted in a strong network and suitable basis for enduring cooperation between the partners involved. Yet, there is still a need to deepen the established integration, to reinforce the collaboration both among the partners and among the different stakeholders, and to streamline the processes. Since WW-Net 2 the economic situation has changed drastically, requiring forest owners and industry to adapt and transform even more dynamically. In addition, several policies have come into play, which need to be addressed by the research network (see section on policies).

WoodWisdom-Net+ was aiming to have a larger representation of European interests in the transformation to a renewable based Europe, and one that is based on sustainable forest management and wood material science and engineering and closely related sectors. WoodWisdom-Net+ especially focussed on calls that stimulated consortia between forest management oriented institutes and wood materials science institutes. These covered topics from change in raw material availability and composition to value-added products and competitive customer solutions.

WoodWisdom-Net+ targeted to adopt a global approach and therefore also encouraged the involvement of partners from relevant non-EU countries. Furthermore, the dialogue with different European and global associations was strengthened.

Addressing issues of common interest with socio-economic relevance recognised at global level

As indicated in the overall project objectives, a key element of WoodWisdom-Net+ was to promote the industrial transformation of the European F-BI across the whole value chain to renewable forest-based solutions and reduce carbon emissions and waste. An additional key prerequisite for the industry was to take into account the change in raw material availability and composition due to anticipated impacts of environmental and climate change.

> This should lead to a new generation of high value-added, eco-efficient, competitive and innovative products, based on sustainably managed forests, themselves adapted to and more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

A continuously innovative and forward looking European F-BI is essential if the European industry is to be transformed from a resource-intensive to a knowledge-intensive industry. The efficient use of wood as a renewable resource, substituting for limited non-renewable resources, will reduce the resource-intensity of wider European industry. But it requires intensive knowledge to develop new wood-based applications with high added value. This knowledge needs to be created in a common European Research Area in those fields which were strengthened by WoodWisdom-Net+.

In order to achieve all this, there is a need to take advantage of process and product developments through alliances with other sectors and to exploit emerging technologies, (as also indicated in the Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) of the Forest-Based Sector Technology Platform and in the FTP Vision 2030). There is a clear need to engage scientists in a multi-disciplinary approach, stretching from the natural and technical sciences to the social, economic and medical sciences. The FTP has good collaboration with other Technology Platforms, which ensured a multi-sectoral dimension in WoodWisdom-Net+. Some examples are ‘PROsumer.NET’ on consumer goods, ‘BUILDING UP’ on more efficient energy buildings, as well as ‘Star-COLIBRI’ on bio-refineries (finished Oct 2011) and ‘BECOTEPS’ on bio-economy (finished Feb 2011).

Impact of activities on national and regional research programmes

Dissemination of the work done within WW-Net mainly occurred through the information exchange arrangements, though seminars, workshops and training missions were also a part of it. The type of information which was distributed included best practice guidance, benchmarking results, research programmes and industrial or technical implementation case studies. Part of the information was and is accessible by parties outside the network, to ensure that it remains open and transparent in order to attract additional resources and grow the European research area. The information from the network was mainly targeted at industry, researchers, European, national and regional decision-makers and advisory bodies, but also addressed issues of interest to the general public.

> A common, trans-national programme was based on a joint analysis of research needs and priorities that will facilitate the allocation of resources to areas of highest strategic importance.

Coordinated research efforts will create a foundation for the establishment of structures and critical masses required for substantial industrial and societal impacts, and for which national funding alone is insufficient. The implementation of best practice protocols within the participating research funding and managing organisations may lead to a higher efficiency in the administration of programmes. WoodWisdom-Net+ also promoted further development of quality criteria that can be used as tools for ultimately raising the competitiveness and standard of European wood material research. Opportunities for harmonisation and mutual opening of the national programmes were identified and realised.

Special actions were set up for effective technology transfer to the European industry and stakeholders. In this context IPR and proprietary knowledge had to be included as a part of the dissemination by the network.

Contribution to policies

The EU2020 strategy on Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive growth has set five headline targets. WoodWisdom-Net+ contributed to three of them in employment, energy and R&D innovation.

In a sustainable economy wood will have a key role as a vast biomass feedstock for a number of applications, e.g. fibre composites, wood construction systems, fine chemicals, biofuels, and intelligent packaging solutions. The FTP SRA envisions: “Europe reduces its dependence on oil with the production of advanced transportation bio-fuels that form an integral part of the F-BI and create significant new business opportunities. Developments in this area will correspond to demands for the increased production of bio-fuels and overall use of renewable raw materials. “

> The results of research conducted within the trans-national WoodWisdom-Net Research Programme supported by the extensive network of previous WoodWisdom-Net 2 with the key players of the European national funding bodies and other stakeholders is having a valuable impact on sustainable development.

For example, material optimisation and new processing concepts will create energy savings of over 40% and also have a major impact on product quality through improved material properties of wood and fibres.

Besides wood being a renewable resource it is also essential for mitigation of climate change. Increasing use of wood will increase carbon storage in wood and paper products. At the same time, standing forests are a sink for CO2 and produce a resource with lower energy utilisation requirements than most non-renewable resources.

> Increasing the competitiveness and profitability of the F-BI through innovative technologies and products contributes to the Industrial leadership targets of Horizon 2020, contributes to tackling climate change, and contributes to employment.

It is obvious that society as a whole can benefit from the substitution of non-renewable materials and energy with sustainable, forest-based products. But to realize the full potential of the F-BI a balanced and stable supply of wood from sustainably managed forests is required. Thus, WoodWisdom-Net+ was contributing to the targets as set under the Kyoto Protocol, the Biodiversity strategy, and the Birds and Habitats Directive.

Contribution to standards

Within the area of wood material science and engineering there are already a high number of common standards, many of them CEN based and addressing commonly traded goods, and a substantial number of forest related industries have been ISO certified. On the other hand, the lack of common standards and the diversity of national standards in the building sector is one serious barrier for the widespread use of wood for different building purposes.

Pushing the boundaries through new research initiatives and development of new technologies will enable incremental development of existing standards in areas such as wood products and will contribute to the development of new standards as new commodities and services begin to be traded across the EU and outside the community.

Spreading excellence, exploiting results, disseminating knowledge

An overall objective of WoodWisdom-Net+ for stakeholders outside the network and the public at large was that ‘the project shall ensure, in particular, that the public and any interested party are continuously given objective, reliable and easily understandable information with regard to its work.’ There was a dedicated WP2 in charge of the dissemination activities.

The Finnish-Swedish Wood Material Science and Engineering (WMS) Research Programme (2003-2007) showed that one of the most important common impacts of the programme for the participants from universities and research institutes, as well as for the funding organisations, was better understanding of bilateral collaboration. This was certainly valid for WoodWisdom-Net+, too. As stated in a former NMP Work Programme, the principal mechanism for achieving enduring cooperation beyond the period of Community funding is the adoption of trans-national working relationships. The experience gained in the preceding ERA-NETs showed that by working in this way many of the barriers to achieving European added value are challenged and sustainable working relationships are created. WoodWisdom-Net+ therefore built upon this solid experience and seeked to extend this across new partnerships.

Information technology based communication is important for maintaining and developing these trans-national relationships. Accordingly, WoodWisdom-Net+ paid special attention to developing its website to provide a high value-added, effective and integrated marketing communications environment. The solution for FP6 WW-Net was developed in 2004 and partly updated in 2008, yet due to the rapid speed of technological development it was renewed again, on the one hand to meet today’s requirements and on the other hand to make maximum use of their potential. The platform provided high value-added Internet resources, allowing communication both with and between players in the supply chain. During the specification phase the opportunities for capitalising on the marketing potential of “virtual communities” were identified. The up-to-date website with new interfaces to relevant other websites and databases (see e.g. the planned collaboration with the European major associations and other international organisations) was one of the main tools for the ongoing dissemination activities to effectively integrate the key players of the supply chain.

WoodWisdom-Net+ was carefully following – and when appropriate – taking advantage of disseminating the project results and sharing best practises between different ERA-NETs and ERA-NET Plus projects via the European Commission’s ERA-NET Learning Platform and the NETWATCH platform. Importantly, the NETWATCH central information platform provided opportunities for effective information distribution to decision makers since it is to “support R&D policy makers and administrations by providing them with information relevant to the strategic use of ERA-NETs, including data pertinent to the assessment of their efficiency and impact”. These services together with CORDIS provided additional channels to stimulate and facilitate the transfer of knowledge from WW-Net RTD project results outside and within the network.

Informative material on WoodWisdom-Net+ (e.g. goals, strategies, actual work, achievements, latest news, cooperation with other networks etc.) were provided for general use by the project partners (information on topics such as the nature of the activities carried out during the project and the benefits to society). The participants used the existing tools, channels and resources of their organisations to help spread awareness of WW-Net+ beyond the research community and to the public as a whole. This included the use of the homepages and information departments of the partners´ organisations, press releases, NCP newsletters, presentations in exhibitions and fairs, and direct contacts with journalists.

What made the work with spreading excellence, exploiting results, and disseminating knowledge challenging was that WoodWisdom-Net+ has a substantial number of different types of stakeholders, all of whom have differing interests in the work of the project. However, the lessons learned and knowledge gathered were disseminated in the European Research Area with a particular focus on countries outside the WW-Net+ consortium.

Programme owners and programme managers from the networking countries were also integrated into the ERA-NET activities such as workshops and measures for the dissemination and application of the results of the WW-Net+ (guidelines, Internet platform etc.).

The main external stakeholders were specified in the Communication Plan. Of these stakeholders outside the network the most influential ones are the Directorate E - Biotechnologies, Agriculture, Food of the European Commission Directorate-General for Research and the national decision-makers as they are also heavily involved in generating the relevant policies and defining the resources available to the research area (e.g. one of the addressed needs under the European Knowledge Based Bio-Economy (KBBE) Programme of FP7 is the sustainable use and production of renewable bio-resources). The WoodWisdom-Net+ partners have a close working relationship with these stakeholders, and through the new KBBE-NET Working Group that is being established in cooperation with the Standing Committee on Agricultural Research (SCAR) it was possible to enhance the involvement of new countries in WoodWisdom-Net+.

Following close behind is the Forest-Based Sector Technology Platform (FTP). It is vital that WoodWisdom-Net+ has a close working relationship with FTP in order to achieve the desired developments and improvements in line with the Vision 2030 and the Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) including the RDI priorities for the coming years. Strengthening collaboration with FTP was an integral part of WP2.

Obviously, the industrial businesses within the area of forest-based sector, as of other related industrial sectors, were of key importance. The WW-Net+ partners being the representatives of the main national funding agencies in the field, have in-depth experience of working with the industry and in ascertaining their needs in terms of research priorities and project execution. WoodWisdom-Net+ seeked to engage industry by improving alignment of research with their longer term needs. This also lays the foundation for sustainable collaboration. WoodWisdom-Net+ stimulated and encouraged industry participation by inviting it to participate in defining the actual theme and topics for the planned call.

To intensify the transfer of new knowledge and technology from its producers to the users, the project enhanced the cooperation of researchers, cluster companies and other stakeholders by arranging seminars, workshops and building other joint research activities. Furthermore, in the WoodWisdom-Net+ call, the involvement of and funding from the major forest industries was specially targeted. In addition, dissemination activities towards the industry were strengthened.

Relationships with the major European associations such as:

• The European Confederation of woodworking industries (CEI-Bois),
• FAO Forestry Department,
• EFI - The European Forest Institute,
• InnovaWood,
• The Confederation of European Forest Owners (CEPF),
• The Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI),
• TAFTIE (The European Network of Innovation Agencies)
• and other international organisations such as
o The International Energy Agency (IEA),
o IUFRO - International Union of Forest Research Organisations,
o Society of Wood Science & Technology,
o Forest Products Society.

The above relationships were also of significant importance, as these are the most influential bodies in the F-BI field. Within the Communication Plan WW-Net+ implemented a detailed strategy indicating how, where appropriate, collaborative links will be formed with these associations, and leading experts, researchers and market actors worldwide. These networks provide an excellent channel to spread the project results globally, and conversely, the networks provide an excellent chance for WW-Net+ and all the stakeholders across the whole value chain to access the relevant RTD information available via these networks.

The InnovaWood Initiative was launched in order to create a coordinated support infrastructure for innovation in the Forest, Wood-based and Furniture industries sector. Today, InnovaWood is an umbrella organisation that integrates four European research networks in the Forest, Wood-based and Furniture industries into a more effective mechanism for supporting innovation in these sectors. It aims to help the development of greater cohesion amongst the providers of research, training & education, and knowledge transfer in the European FBI sector and has close to 70 members from 23 countries within Europe and beyond. Some of the WW-Net+ partners are members of the network.

Crucially, an essential and important part of the project dissemination is distribution of the project results to the research community. The persons involved in these networks are aware of and understand the research activities, while simultaneously generating a European culture of knowledge exchange in the sector. For example, WW-Net+ encouraged the graduate schools to look for other funding sources and provided advice about different possibilities like the European Commission's Marie Curie Actions for researcher training and mobility. This may also stimulate the deepening of collaboration between the graduate schools.

Besides other related areas of FP7, at the European level other important stakeholders are EUREKA – the pan-European network for market-oriented industrial R&D, COST – European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research (especially the domain “Forests, their products and services”), and other ERA-NETs (e.g. FORESTERRA, RURAGRI, ECO-INNOVERA, EraSME) and ERA-NET Plus Actions (e.g. MATERA+, possibly forthcoming ERA-NET Plus on Bioenergy). These networks are of great significance taking into account the cross-sectoral nature of WW-Net+.

The document “COOPERATION WORK PROGRAMME 2012” (p. 3) states that: “To fully accomplish the Innovation Union, and in particular taking account of the European Council conclusions of 4th February on Innovation, the framework conditions need to be improved (public procurements, standard settings, strengthen dissemination, protection of intellectual property, knowledge market and innovation financing) and the European Research Area (ERA) needs to be completed soon. The involvement and full support of all actors and stakeholders is required, at all levels (EU, National, Regional) and from all sectors (private, public, industry, research, academic, services): their commitment is key to the achievement of Innovation Union.” Through the above-described engagement with stakeholders outside the network in addition to other activities WW-Net+ believes that it was able to foster better integration of European research and national and regional research programmes, thus providing a major contribution towards the completion of the ERA.
List of Websites:
www.woodwisdom.net

WoodWisdom-Net+ Project Coordinator
Dr Ilmari Absetz
Tekes
Postal address: PO Box 69, FIN-00101 Helsinki, Finland
tel: +358 10 605 5837
email: ilmari.absetz@tekes

WoodWisdom-Net+ Project Secretariat
Mr Mika Kallio
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
Postal address: PO Box 30, FI-00023 Government, Finland
gsm: +358 (0)50 361 2694
email: mika.kallio@woodwisdom.net

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 321573

Status

Closed project

  • Start date

    15 November 2012

  • End date

    14 November 2017

Funded under:

FP7-NMP

  • Overall budget:

    € 23 026 658

  • EU contribution

    € 7 598 797

Coordinated by:

INNOVAATIORAHOITUSKESKUS BUSINESS FINLAND