Webinar materials: Finland advancing its partnerships with the United States in the field of Bioeconomy

Webinar materials: Finland advancing its partnerships with the United States in the field of Bioeconomy

A virtual event on October 27th gathered together around a hundred participants to a discussion about cooperation between Finland and the United States on Clean Technologies and the Circular Economy of the Future. The webinar featured leading company showcases from Finland, and was moderated by Dr. Victoria Herrmann, President and Managing Director of the Arctic Institute.

Screen grab of the webinar featuring Minister Mikkonen and the moderator Victoria Herrman.
Minister Krista Mikkonen and event moderator Dr. Victoria Herrmann.

Finland’s Minister for the Environment Krista Mikkonen and Amanda Beal, Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry for the State of Maine got together in a fireside chat to discuss government-level enablers for the modern bio- and circular economies and efforts to rebuild green after COVID-19. Both speakers highlighted the importance of transatlantic partnerships. Finland is determined to show by example that the transformation to climate neutrality is possible and has committed to reaching that target already by 2035. 

"We are glad that in the U.S. we have found strong partners in the promotion of green economy." – Minister Krista Mikkonen

While working towards a green recovery from the COVID crisis, it is important to think about resilience and diversification, to support our communities, rural and otherwise, highlighted Commissioner Beal. Minister Mikkonen reiterated that instilling the principle of sustainability into economic recovery plans is a top priority that will also boost our competitiveness.

Finland and Maine have committed to a partnership in promoting forest bioeconomyLink to another website.. Climate change and biodiversity loss are global problems and international partnerships are needed to combat them. There is a strong case for a reinforced transatlantic partnership in this sector: while the U.S. is an innovation powerhouse, Finland has many global strengths in the green economy, including forest bioeconomy, circular economy solutions, clean technologies and emerging technologies.

As Minister Mikkonen pointed out, Finland and Maine could work together to create global solutions for example in the booming sectors of wood construction and nanocellulose products. Commissioner Beal praised efforts to bring together, even virtually, actors on both sides. Maine and Finland are excited to move forward in the planning of further initiatives such as joint working groups to promote concrete collaboration between industry and research stakeholders.

Speakers highlighted that in the future the efficient use of renewable materials will be key. Circular economy is a solution to many problems. Our natural resources are finite and we need to make sure we are managing them well and allowing benefits to continue to future generations. Increasingly we need to focus on how we manage waste and transform waste streams.

Keynote speaker James Ward, Vice President for Innovation at the University of Maine said the university is heavily invested in the forest products sector and looks at the whole forest sector from recreation to nanocellulose products. Ward mentioned the FOR/MaineLink to another website. or Maine’s Forest Opportunity Roadmap, a cross-sector collaboration between industry, communities, government, education, and non-profits, looking to grow the forest-based sector in Maine. The aim is to discover new innovations and technologies to take advantage of unutilized resources, and to provide the opportunity to bring new bio-products to the market.  

Ward brought up FOR/Maine’s Strategic Investment Attraction Plan for Maine’s Forest IndustryLink to another website., a recent report compiled by Finnish forest consulting company Indufor on market opportunities that provides an outline of where the industry’s markets are internationally and nationally in the US. University of Maine has facilities where new innovators, such as foreign companies, can demonstrate and run pilot programs of their technologies.

University of Maine has many existing relationships with Finnish universities and companies and Ward sees there is a big opportunity to build on these relationships and to take a great leap forward in bio- and circular economy.



Speakers' bios 
Detailed program
Full webinar recording on YouTubeLink to another website.(Opens New Window)

Webinar recording

Full recording of the webinar is available on the Embassy's YouTubeLink to another website. channel.


Welcome words

Webinar moderator Dr. Victoria Herrmann, President and Managing Director of the Arctic Institute

Opening remarks

3:05min Consul General of Finland in New York, Ambassador Mika Koskinen.

Fireside Chat: The Transition Towards Circular Economy – Promoting Modern Green Economy

7:50      Opening remarks: Dr. Victoria Herrmann
11:00   Opening remarks: Ms. Krista Mikkonen, Finland’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change
11:50   Opening remarks: Ms. Amanda Beal, Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, State of Maine
27:00   Open discussion

Keynote Remarks

39:40   New opportunities in bio- and circular economy by Mr. Jake Ward, VP for Innovation, University of Maine

Finnish Bioneers Present: Leading Companies' Showcase from Finland

49:30  StepOneTech / Juha Honkasalo, Director of Business Development
58:30  Kotkamills / Mr. Ari Tanninen, SVP, Consumer Boards
1:07    Dolea / Mr. Mika Salomäki, CEO
1:16    Sulapac / Mr. Ami Rubinstein, Deputy CEO
1:25    Aalto University / Ms. Kristiina Kruus, Dean, School of Chemical Engineering
1:33    Q&A

Presenting top bioeconomy actors from Finland included:

StepOneTechLink to another website. | Director of Business Development Juha Honkasalo: StepOnetech is a manufacturer of eFlexFuel, a technology that enables gasoline and hybrid vehicles to run on renewable biofuel. This technology can be installed to the current vehicle fleet and is a very cost-effective way for ecological driving. Installing the device to existing gasoline or hybrid vehicle takes a couple of hours and costs $500. Once installed, the vehicle can instantly use bioethanol fuel, or in the future, Power-to-X fuels. 

At the event, StepOneTech announced the first sustainable biofuel solution for the global motorbike market and announced its official U.S. market expansion, and its first U.S. hire, in California.

KotkamillsLink to another website. | Senior Vice President Ari Tanninen: Kotkamills creates renewable, recyclable products for the packaging and food service industries. Kotkamills was founded in 1872, and over the years it has expanded from sawmills to three business lines operating as an integrate. Sustainable product line includes food service consumer boards, high quality saturating base kraft papers, and ecological wood products. The packages made of Kotkamills paperboard can be recycled up to seven times.  

Kotkamills provided an update on its solutions, including work with Lavazza and Norwich City FC. Kotkamills is one of the 12 winners of global NextGen Cup Challenge in 2019.

DoleaLink to another website. | Chief Executive Officer Mika Salomäki: Dolea produces recyclable and biodegradable drinking straws and drinking straw machines for converters. Dolea straws are made of heat-sealable material without using any glue. The raw material is IslaLink to another website., a barrier board by Kotkamills.

Dolea emphasizes user-friendliness in product development, the straws are very strong and suitable also for hot drinks and offer a fully printable surface for branding.

Dolea announced its recent certification as a recyclable straw and its U.S. market expansion, which will occur in 2021. With the support of a new local representative, the company is planning to study the US markets and seek manufacturing partners.

SulapacLink to another website. | Deputy Chief Executive Officer Ami Rubinstein: Sulapac accelerates the plastic waste-free future with sustainable materials that are beautiful and functional. The Helsinki-based company was founded in 2016 and has been ranked as one of the 100 hottest startups in Europe by WIRED UK.

Sulapac’s material is a combination of wood and natural fibers and it’s mass-producible, with certain optimization, by the existing equipment and molds originally built for the production of plastic products.

The majority of Sulapac’s business is providing raw materials to converters and brands for making their own products of it. The material offers unlimited possibilities from cosmetic and food packaging to single-use products such as straws, to e.g. hygiene products.

One of the key features of Sulapac’s products is that they have a beautiful look and feel and they have won numerous awards for the product design. Sulapac’s investors include the French luxury house Chanel. Sulapac will be launching more strongly in the US markets next year.

Aalto UniversityLink to another website. | Dean of the School of Chemical Engineering Kristiina Kruus: Aalto University showcased its progressive bio- and circular economy research, including recycled fiber technology IoncellLink to another website.® and Shimmering Wood ColorsLink to another website..

Ioncell process creates fibers of wood or recycled materials such as newspapers, cardboard, or textile cotton waste, the only chemicals applied are the non-toxic ionic liquid and water. The fiber properties are equal or even better than e.g. in viscose.

Shimmering Wood Colors offer a sustainable alternative to the toxic pigments and plastic-based materials used in the fashion industry, by creating a color with a shiny and glittery effect using only a thin layer of nanocellulose, and no chemicals or metals. This color does not fade in sunlight.

Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation recently granted Aalto University 10,5 Million € to establish a bio innovation center. The center will accelerate the transition to circular and bio-economy, create solutions for sustainable economic growth in Finland, and educate multidisciplinary experts in the graduate school.

The Breakfast for BIOneers: Finland-US Cooperation on Clean Technologies and the Circular Economy of the Future event was co-organized by the Consulate General of Finland in New York, Embassy of Finland to the US in Washington D.C., and Business Finland. It was an official side event of SITRA’s World Circular Economy ForumLink to another website..

For inquiries please contact:

(Ms.) Heli Hyypiä
Trade and Economic Affairs
Embassy of Finland to the United States
[email protected]

(Ms.) Sanna Andersson
Commercial and Trade Affairs
Consulate General of Finland in New York
[email protected]

Event description

Breakfast for BIOneers: Finland-US Cooperation on Clean Technologies and the Circular Economy of the Future – Featuring Leading Company Showcases from Finland

WHAT: Policy-makers from Finland and the United States will discuss enablers for the modern bio- and circular economies. In view of the urgent need to make our economies more sustainable, and the enormous growth potential of clean technologies and the green economy, how can governments support the research, innovation and industrial transformation needed to transition to a sustainable bio- and circular economy? What role do circular economy solutions play in our efforts to rebuild after COVID-19?

WHY: The US and Europe have much to gain from joining forces in the green transition towards bio- and circular economies. Finland has made the commitment to be carbon neutral by 2035 and is leading the world in the refocusing of its forest industry and creating solutions for the circular economy. Finland has partnered with two US states, Maine and Michigan, to jointly promote the development of modern bioeconomy and clean technologies. Bringing together experts and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic will boost the competitiveness of the transatlantic economy and help Finland and the U.S. stay at the cutting edge of new technologies and future innovation.

“Climate change, biodiversity loss and environmental degradation threaten the security of humankind. Finland aims to be climate neutral by 2035. We are working hand in hand with our industries, businesses, cities, regions and academia to reach that goal. International partnerships, like the ones between Finland and the States of Maine and Michigan, are extremely valuable in this work.” Krista Mikkonen, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change

WHEN: Tuesday, October 27th, 10-11:30 am EST / 4-5:30 pm EEST

WHERE: Online webinar


  • Krista Mikkonen, Finland’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change
  • Amanda E. Beal, Commissioner, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
  • Jake Ward, Vice President for Innovation at the University of Maine
  • Mika Koskinen, Consul General of Finland in New York
  • Victoria Hermann, President and Managing Director of The Arctic Institute
  • Juha Honkasalo, Director of Business Development, StepOneTech
  • Ari Tanninen, Senior Vice President, Consumer Boards, Kotkamills
  • Mika Salomäki, Founder/CEO, Dolea Ltd.
  • Antti Valponen, Head of Marketing/Communications, Sulapac
  • Kristiina Kruus, Dean, School of Chemical Engineering, the Aalto University


Finland: The World's Greenest Country

Finland ranks #1 in bio-based circular economy; #1 in wood cellulose-based fibers, and is ranked #1 in the EU in battery recycling. Finland is ranked near the top in equality and overall happiness of its society. The Finnish education system is renowned as the world leader. All of this produces innovation and creativity and tremendous bio-based expertise, stemming from a long history of forestry and sawmill industries. In recent years, Finland has produced world leaders in every aspect of sustainability: from sustainable steel to recyclable fabrics to micro-plastic-free solutions. These innovators are referred to as "bioneers" in the sustainability field.

Finland is a world leader in bio-based circular solutions. Everything derived from oil, for example, can also be fashioned from wood. Such innovations are already gaining traction in the market. Finnish companies are bioneers of next-generation sustainability, focused on creating solutions for a better tomorrow.