Demand for water expertise increases across the world – Cooperation between public and private sectors the key to growth of business for Finland

Press release 2018-06-12 at 11:00

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Ministry of the Environment

The demand for solutions that recycle and save water is growing dramatically and food production is increasing in water areas. When the public and private sectors engage in goal-oriented collaboration, Finland can offer competitive solutions to the world's challenges. The priority areas of research and expertise supporting sustainable business activities in the blue bioeconomy have been defined in wide-ranging cooperation. The Ministerial working group on the bioeconomy and clean solutions approved the research agenda for the blue bioeconomy in June.

The priority areas in the research and competence building agenda on the blue bioeconomy are based on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals to which water is closely linked and which involve growth opportunities in international markets for Finnish companies. The priority areas are: 1) sustainable food production, 2) clean water and sanitation, 3) affordable and clean energy, 4) diverse aquatic environment, 5) mitigation of climate change and 6) health and wellbeing. For example, the objective of the clean water and sanitation theme is to find competitive solutions in the long term to remove drug residues and microplastics from wastewater. In addition, the aim is to create a so-called No Water sanitation concept, which will make it possible to give up the use of flush toilets. In the short term, the aim is to develop technologies that save and recycle water to reduce the production of wastewater and to enable its reuse.

"When we combine our natural resources and the top expertise and technologies in the water sector, we can create a blue bioeconomy with a huge potential for international business in Finland. New kinds of test environments of businesses and the public sector are already under construction in Mikkeli, Varkaus and Laukaa. Mikkeli is creating water processing technologies that are interesting from an international perspective. The aim in Varkaus and Laukaa, on the other hand, is to develop recirculating aquaculture," says Jari Leppä, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. 

"Efficient and climate-friendly production of protein and solutions that save and recycle water, energy and nutrients are the priority areas in the research agenda. By investing in their development and research, we strengthen Finland's position as a leading country in the circular economy," says Kimmo Tiilikainen, Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing.

For business to grow, systematic cooperation is required between companies, research, education and administration and multidisciplinary development environments are needed. There will be an impact in the long term when research and public procurements in Finland are directed in a goal-oriented manner and when Finland contributes to the content of the EU's funding programmes and strategies and to international decision-making. At the moment, Finland participates in the preparation of the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation and in the reform of the EU Bioeconomy Strategy.

Many Finnish counties have invested in the different blue bioeconomy themes. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has already launched experimental projects with the funding provided for the Government's key projects to speed up the internationalisation of the clusters in the water sector. The projects also promote news business models in water-based tourism and the sustainable use of the nutrients and energy contained by bodies of water. 

The agenda is part of the Government's key project concerning the blue bioeconomy and its preparation has been coordinated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. The strategy has been drafted by the Natural Resources Institute Finland, the Finnish Environment Institute, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Business Finland, the Academy of Finland and Gaia Consulting Oy.

Research and competence building agenda on the blue bioeconomy (in Finnish)

Inquiries:

Teppo Säkkinen, Special Adviser to Minister Leppä, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. +358 50 516 2868, firstname.lastname@mmm.fi

Taru Savolainen, Special Adviser to Minister Tiilikainen, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 40 535 8622, firstname.lastname@ym.fi

Riitta Rahkonen, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. +358 295 162 202, firstname.lastname@mmm.fi

Timo Halonen, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. +358 295 162 411, firstname.lastname@mmm.fi