UPM collaborates with leading research organizations and small to medium sized companies in order to create a new ecosystem and novel wood-based innovations for the biomedical sector. The sector faces a growing need for products sourced from natural materials that are free from animal-derived components as they offer many advantages over currently used materials.
UPM has been active in biomedicals for many years and has already commercialized GrowDex® nanocellulose product for cell culture. GrowDex provides an environment close to that found in the human body, giving researchers a tool to replicate and study the effect of diseases on cells. Plant-based biocompatible materials can accelerate market breakthrough for several new applications and technologies. In addition to cell culture, wood-based materials can be used e.g. in clinical applications and diagnostics.
“We have a long history of developing new high-value products from forest biomass but entering a highly regulated field, such as the biomedical industry, requires new kind of competences and collaboration. Public funding from Business Finland enables joining forces with other key partners operating in this area. Moreover, it speeds up the creation of a new ecosystem, which in turn enables new business to all companies involved,” says Jussi Pesonen, President and CEO of UPM.
Development work for these new innovative products has received significant support and funding from Business Finland through the Wood-to-Biomedical project which began in 2017 and will now continue to 2021. The project targets to integrate parties and their technologies into value networks. Expansion of the ecosystem will generate new business that could not be achieved by any single organization alone.
“Ecosystems are the way of the future. Innovations are key drivers of growth, and the majority of innovations are born in ecosystems. I am personally very excited about this project. It creates significant growth opportunities for Finnish biomedical companies of all sizes, and huge benefits for the Finnish society as a whole,” says Pekka Soini, Director General of Business Finland.