Metsä Group has been awarded as Finland’s most startup-friendly company in 2022, receiving the award for the second year running. The award, presented by the entrepreneurship and startup community Tribe Tampere, is granted in recognition of the exceptional actions of large industrial corporations in collaboration with the startup sector.
“We are once again extremely grateful and proud that our determined contribution has led to this recognition,” says Erik Kolehmainen, VP, Corporate Venturing at Metsä Spring, the innovation arm of Metsä Group. “Our involvement goes beyond simply investing capital in promising startups. Through our strategic collaboration, startups benefit from access to Metsä Group’s industrial assets and knowledge to facilitate R&D and innovation, advancing the forest-based bioeconomy.”
As the winning company, Metsä Group received particular praise for, among other things, the openness of its collaborations, and the involvement of the top management, signifying the clear strategic importance of collaborating with the startup ecosystem.
Metsä Group’s innovation company Metsä Spring is a concrete example of Metsä Group’s commitment to helping the growth of innovations and startups. Through Metsä Spring, the group invests in promising startups and technologies that can improve the business ecosystem around Metsä Group and bring value to the forestry and wood-based sectors.
Wood and bio-based innovations have recently been gathering momentum. According to Facts and Factors, the global bio-based materials market size was worth around USD 21 billion in 2021 and is estimated to grow to about USD 82 billion by 2028.
Several Finnish wood and bio-based companies are emerging at the forefront of this movement. Metsä Spring’s portfolio companies include startups like Innomost that offers cosmetics producers biodegradable and renewable ingredients derived from Finnish birch. Metsä Groups’ internal demonstration projects include Kuura – an environmentally responsible textile fibre produced from softwood pulp, and Muoto, an alternative to plastic packaging.
In addition to capital investment, startups can access a sustainable flow of raw materials sourced from Finnish forest owners. Startups can also establish R&D and demo plants close to or within Metsä Group’s facilities, where they can test their products and processes before scaling them to the market.
One example of such cooperation is with Montinutra, a Finnish circular economy startup that upcycles forest industry side-streams, such as sawdust and bark, to produce high-value ingredients for applications including cosmetics, coatings, and packaging. As a Metsä Spring portfolio company, Montinutra has just announced plans for a commercial demo plant that is situated at Metsä Group’s Vilppula sawmill site.
“Thanks to Metsä Group, we have secure and scalable access to the much-needed feedstocks that come from side-streams of the forest industry – we don’t use land that could be cultivated for food, for example. Bringing new biochemicals to the market is a long process, but with the support of Metsä Group, we have the ability to scale our production capacity to a commercial scale,” says founder and CEO of Montinutra, Jaakko Pajunen.