From new bio-based materials to cleaner energy, innovative technologies will be key if we are to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and become more sustainable.
To accelerate this transition, the European Union has invested nearly 4 billion euros into what is known as Europe’s bioeconomy, an area that encompasses many economic sectors including agriculture, fisheries, forestry, paper, bioenergy to name a few.
Getting the good from wood
Located just outside the Finnish city of Turku, MetGen’s mission is all about getting the good from wood. Founded in 2008, the firm makes highly-active industrial enzymes – natural catalysts that speed up chemical reactions. This is vitally important for industry, as enzymes don’t just save time, they also crucially save energy, and as a consequence money.
By mixing its enzymes with lignin, a material found in trees that gives wood its strength and rigidity, MetGen can also make more eco-friendly products.
”We’re mixing lignin together with our enzymes to produce materials to replace fossil-based products like this sustainable foam which is used to insulate houses,” explains the company’s Sales Director Sami-Pekka Rantanen.
MetGen insists the new bio-based foam is not only better for the environment it is also more efficient for insulating houses compared to fossil-based products.
In addition, the company is working with some of the biggest players in the tyre and drinks industry to develop more sustainable products.
The hope is that wood and other bio-based materials will be used in this way to create better products for the environment in the future, replacing the plastics, fuels and fertilisers that are currently fossil-based.
No surprise then that the bioeconomy is a top priority for Europe – a sector that already employs more than 18 million people with another 1 million jobs expected to be created by 2030.
Funding for a more eco-friendly future
The European Union has already pumped nearly 4 billion euros into Europe’s bioeconomy via its Horizon 2020 programme – a figure that’s due to rise to 10 billion in the coming years.
This is being channelled through an initiative called the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking, a partnership between the EU and bio-based industries in the private sector.
MetGen’s CEO Alex Michine said the support network and funding provided by the European Union was crucial for the development of his company.
”The financial support helped our company to grow from the startup phase to a fully commercial SME. but what is even more important is to have access to the wide collaboration network, including industrial players, to understand what consumers really want.”
He adds: “Our vision is to become an integral part of the European circular bioeconomy. And we truly believe that everything that can be done from oil can be done from wood.”
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Published on euronews.com
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