Innovations of the forest industry in the 21st century

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Kemian tekniikan korkeakoulu | Master's thesis
Industrial Energy Processes and Sustainability
Degree programme
Master’s Programme in Advanced Energy solutions (AAE)
Forests are the most important natural resource in the Finnish society. The forest industry provides access to valuable natural resources that is part of people’s daily life. In addition, the forest industry is a significant contributor to the Finnish economy by promoting employment and well-being of society. The 21st century has been a critical period for the forest industry. While demand for traditional forest products has started to decline, the forest industry has been criticized for being a polluting sector with lack of innovativeness. In this respect, continuous development has been conducted in the industry, which has further enabled the renewal of the industry and update of image to this day. By examining innovations behind the development, the performance of the industry in the midst of major changes can be evaluated. This thesis studied the innovations enabling the development and renewal of the forest industry in the 21st century. The aim of the study was to compile the most significant process technology and product innovations from different fields and themes, as well as to study the factors driving the emergence of innovations. For this, a quality study was conducted through semi-structured interviews with experts in the field. In addition to innovations, achievements and their key performance indicators were studied, and further, experts’ perception of prospects for the industry were inquired. The results revealed that resource efficiency has been the most significant driver for equipment, technology and component developments during the 21st century. Another major driver was sustainability and related environmental issues, which have been a source of inspiration for new material and product innovations and above all, for the development of start-ups. Many innovations and innovative solutions have been able to identify in this work. It should be taken into consideration that the availability of results might have been affected by changing operating environment and intensified competition. Nevertheless, the future of the forest industry is considered as positive. Bioeconomy and sustainability challenges like climate change appeared to be the key factors driving the innovation in the forest industry.
Paltakari, Jouni
Thesis advisor
Lindqvist, Antti
forest industry, innovation, innovation drivers, sustainability, product innovation, process technology innovation
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