Collaboration is power
Biovalley is an expertise hub that combines the know-how of several industries found in the area: chemical industry, the bioeconomy, and the mineral economy. The new collaboration within Biovalley contributes to the development of research, economies, innovations, and education. Biovalley has taken major strides since its inception, and from autumn 2017 onwards, the hub will continue on a contractual basis, with 23 organisations involved. Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius is acting as the coordinator for the project.
“The cooperation agreement contributes to the vitality of the region. We can be proud, since a similar approach cannot be found anywhere else,” says Biovalley Coordinator Tiina Ylä-Kero from Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius.
In addition to the University Consortium, the project enjoys the major involvement of the Kokkola Industrial Park (KIP), the most important chemical cluster in Northern Europe. The Industrial Park is interested in how Biovalley can create new enterprises and business opportunities in addition to support existing companies in the KIP area.
“Biovalley takes an already strong industrial know-how and combines it into an entity that provides an excellent framework for industry that is geared to new innovations. A battery research laboratory located in Kokkola is a good example of the development progress in the region. Top-level research conditions are a key factor in bringing about internationally competitive research and product development activities in Central Ostrobothnia,” says Kokkola Industrial Park Environmental Manager Virve Heikkinen.
Current trends in sustainable development and the circular economy create completely new kinds of markets and demand that the region is now better able to engage in them. It is therefore no wonder that the companies in the collaboration are more than happy to be involved. As an example, the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners found the necessary bioeconomy and chemistry talent and skills they were looking for within Biovalley, whereas the mining company Keliber further developed their lithium carbonate production process and examined various possibilities for its productization. From the perspective of the Geological Survey of Finland (GTK), the broader research and know-how available within Biovalley can be used to find new uses for bioeconomy products that have yet to define a clear purpose, and thereby support the development of the circular economy. The collaboration helps all parties involved to gain visibility as well as contributing to society by providing increasingly useful research results that can be utilised in decision-making and resource allocation. Both Ylä-Kero and Heikkinen highlight the interrelationship between the parties involved within Biovalley. When know-how isn’t kept from others, but instead shared between disciplines, it improves the entire region.
In addition to innovations and collaboration, Biovalley also provides the concrete benefit of creating new companies and jobs for the region.
“The Agribusiness training in Biovalley is one example where new business opportunities can emerge from time to time. Biovalley helps in finding funding for ideas and in the building of new businesses. Combining know-how within the region accelerates processes and makes finding necessary contacts easier,” says Ylä-Kero.
Although Biovalley has achieved significant results, there is still a lot for room for growth. In the future, Biovalley is aiming towards global research and larger scale collaboration projects.
“Our goal is to be on the cutting edge in all three fields and to create even more companies, jobs and exports within the region. We are aiming for internationalisation and to establish our reputation as pioneers,” Ylä-Kero says, outlining the future course for Biovalley.