Södra‘s Foundation for Research, Development and Education has now been in existence for just over 20 years. Some SEK 250 million has been allocated to the foundation since its inception in 1995 and SEK 175 million has been distributed. The result of the initiative is progress in a range of fields in the bio-based economy, including new opportunities for fossil-free products.
Approximately 150 research projects have been awarded funding since the establishment of the foundation in 1995. These projects have varied in character and scope, and have included funding for research into sustainable timber construction, the establishment of the Avancell fibre engineering centre with the aim of raising the processing value in the sulphate pulp industry, the development of machine planting of saplings and training of sniffer dogs to detect spruce bark beetle infestation. The results of the research projects have been significant, both from a societal perspective and for the forest industry.
For example, research into timber construction has enhanced the know-how required to construct tall timber buildings, thereby opening the possibility for more climate-smart housing construction. The focus of Avancell has been directed to Welfare materials from sustainable forest resources; sustainable products for textile fibres, packaging for drinks and liquid food, and personal care products, such as nappies. “Sustainable and profitable forestry and a stable forest industry are issues for the future,” says Laila Rogestedt, SVP Innovation & New Business at Södra and foundation Board member. “The fact that we have stable funding of long-term research in these fields paves the way for climate-smart products and sustainable production as well as jobs.”
Issue of climate change a future trend
Laila Rogestedt believes that the year ahead will be an exciting one. The next decision regarding the allocation of funding will be made at the Board meeting in March. Over the past year, several applications have addressed the issue of the contribution of the forest to the carbon balance, and the combination of production goals and environmental goals.
“We can see a trend in recent years towards the role of the forest in the issue of climate change,” says Laila Rogestedt. “It’s an incredibly important issue for the future where we can make a huge contribution. It’s truly exciting to be part of this development.”