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Finnish entities announce sustainability-related undertakings

CEO Maija Itkonen and the Onego Bio team have whipped up a recipe to produce ovalbumin, the main protein found in egg white, more sustainably.

Timo Kauppila

Finnish entities ranging from a pulp and paper giants to a newly founded science-based spinoff have reported on activities, acquisitions and undertakings related to sustainability in September.

Stora Enso in September revealed it is investing more than a billion euros in order to gain a larger share of the renewable packaging market in Europe.

The Finnish pulp and paper manufacturer reported that it has put pen to paper on a 1 020 million-euro agreement to acquire De Jong Packaging Group, one of the largest producers of corrugated packaging in Benelux. De Jong Packaging’s product portfolio and geographic presence, it said, will complement and enhance its offering particularly in fresh produce, e-commerce and industrial packaging.

Stora Enso in September announced an over billion-euro acquisition to increase its share of the renewable packaging market in Europe. Image: Aki Loponen / Pictuner

“De Jong Packaging Group has a solid track record of growth in corrugated packaging, which combined with our experience in innovative design, digital solutions and sustainability services, will enable us to strengthen our offering,” stated David Ekberg, head of packaging solutions at Stora Enso.

The company revealed that the acquisition will enable it to more than double its corrugated packaging capacity from roughly 800 to over 2 000 million cubic metres, thereby providing a solid footing for continued growth in key markets. The European corrugated packaging market, it highlighted, is fragmented, with local presence key for sustainable growth.

Stora Enso also estimated that, in three years, the acquisition will generate annual synergies worth about 30 million euros mainly in sourcing, integration optimisation and commercial opportunities.

“In line with our strategy, we are investing in growing our market share in renewable and circular packaging solutions,” said Annica Bresky, CEO of Stora Enso. “[The acquisition] supports our future strategic direction to advance renewable packaging solutions within Europe.”

Finnish technology to reduce shipping emissions

Wärtsilä in September said it has developed a hybrid propulsion solution for two roll-on, roll-off vessels with CLdN, a logistics and transport company headquartered in Luxembourg.

The solution will enable the 234-metre-long vessels, each with 8 000 lane metres of cargo space, to operate as gas or diesel-mechanical vessels today and as gas or diesel-electric vessels in the future, thus enabling them to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Torsten Bûssow, director of ship electrification solutions at Wärtsilä, said the Finnish technology supplier has for some time recommended placing priority on built-in flexibilities in the propulsion train due to the uncertainty that continues to surround the design re-think required to promote the decarbonisation of shipping.

The vessels are being built at Hyundai Mipo Dockyards in South Korea and are scheduled for delivery in the last quarter of 2024 or the first quarter of 2025. Image: Wärtsilä

“Together with CLdN, with these vessels we are showcasing what is today both possible and meaningful,” he stated.

Wärtsilä revealed that its contribution to the solution comprises energy storage systems, two large variable-speed shaft generators, electric motors, multi-drive converters, and an energy management system that controls and optimises the hybrid operations.

“Our aim is to be flexible with regard to future technological developments, which is why we have worked on the development of these new vessels with Wärtsilä, a company with a proven track record in developing advanced hybrid technology for the marine industry,” said Gary Walker, chief operating officer for shipping at CLdN.

Finnish chargers to power Australia’s longest electric highway

Kempower revealed last week that its rapid chargers will be installed along the longest electric highway in Australia by JET Charge, the largest charging infrastructure company in Australia.

JET Charge, it said, has placed an order for 42 Kempower C-Stations, a fast-charging station combines the charging power unit and charging satellite into a single unit. The station can deliver 150 kilowatts of power dynamically to two outputs and can be upgraded to deliver up to 200 kilowatts to four outputs.

The Lahti-based company estimated that its station was selected for the project due to its robust design, dynamic power management, high voltage and practical driver-interface experience. The modular design architecture additionally makes future expansion easy.

The project has been green lit by Western Australian government and represents one of the longest single electric transport projects in the world. Image: Kempower

The highway will stretch for more than 3 500 kilometres along the western coast of Australia. It will be dotted by a total of 98 chargers across 49 locations situated no more than 200 kilometres apart from one another.

Tomi Ristimäki, CEO of Kempower, viewed that the highway project will ensure electric motorists can explore the state with the confidence that they can find a charger on some of the most isolated highways in the world.

Kempower and JET Charge, he reminded, entered into a partnership early this year to supply charging solutions that accelerate the transition to electric road transport in Australia.

“So we’re thrilled to see our technology chosen for such a massive project,” he said.

Cellular agriculture spinoff bags funding

Onego Bio, a spinoff from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, in September announced it has secured a grant worth 4.5 million euros from Business Finland.

The Helsinki-based newly founded startup said the funding will enable it to speed up the research and development of its precision fermentation-based method for producing egg white, the most widely used animal protein in the world.

The method involves introducing the genetic blueprint of ovalbumin, the main protein found in egg white, to the cells of Trichoderma reesei, prompting the microflora to start producing ovalbumin instead of its own proteins. The growth of the microflora is controlled in a bioreactor by manipulating its access to glucose and nutrients to ensure the highest level of production possible.

Onego Bio raised 10 million euros in seed funding in conjunction with its founding in February. Image: Onego Bio

Onego Bio underlined that the method is safe, sustainable and cost-effective.

Business Finland estimated that the method has significant international business potential as it addresses significant global challenges and trends by promoting sustainable food production, food security and efforts to mitigate the climate crisis.

Maija Itkonen, CEO of Onego Bio, was delighted with the funding, saying it enables the spinoff to focus on increasingly complex and ambitious areas of research and development, as well as keep its risk appetite and performance requirements high.

Idea contest to promote inclusion, resilience and sustainability in society

The University of Oulu and Shimizu Corporation, a leading architectural, engineering and construction company in Japan, have signed a memorandum of understanding to explore possibilities arising from the evolution of information and communication technologies, including 5G and 6G.

The partners will set up a co-funded idea contest to encourage participants to utilise such technologies in new ways to promote resilience, inclusion and sustainability in society. The contest is also expected to yield new ideas in the areas of education, energy, logistics and personal wellbeing.

Most of the participants are expected to be students as the contest will be carried out in conjunction with a radical innovation course designed by the University of Oulu.

Jouko Niinimäki of the University of Oulu and Kazuyuki Inoue of Shimizu Corporation signed a memorandum of agreement to look into possibilities arising from advances in information and communication technology. Image: Ayako Suzuki / Shimizu Corporation

Their submissions will be judged by both partners in co-operation with Akihiro Nakao, professor at the Graduate School of Engineering at the University of Tokyo. The winners will receive an invitation to share and demonstrate their ideas and prototypes in Japan in July 2023.

“As part of the international science community, we produce new science-based solutions and train future pioneers to build a more sustainable and intelligent world,” saidJouko Niinimäki, rector of the University of Oulu. “We have high expectations for a fruitful, long-term collaboration with […] Shimizu.”

The Finnish university has established ties with Japan also through 6G Flagship, the world’s first large-scale research programme on 6G. The programme entered into its second stage at the brink of last summer, intensifying its focus on the four main research areas of wireless connectivity, device technologies, distributed computing, and services and applications.

By: Aleksi Teivainen