31-10-2016 EFIB conference in Glasgow: successful event for Finnish biotech companies

MetGen wins the John Sime Award for biotechnology



The stand representing Innovative Bioproducts from Finland was a collaboration of Finpro, Tekes – The Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, Joensuu Science Park and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

MetGen won the John Sime Award for Most Innovative New Technology at the European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology and the Bioeconomy (EFIB). Also other Finnish biotech companies received important visibility and contacts, among them Paptic, whose recyclable, bio-based and biodegradable bags attracted visitors to the Finnish stand.

Finpro’s Innovative Bioproducts growth program showcased Finnish bioproduct and technology companies at the EFIB conference in Glasgow, Scotland on 18-20 October, 2016. The conference is an annual EU meeting place for business and policy on industrial biotech and the biobased economy. It is one of the key industry events.

Pia Qvintus, Program Manager of Innovative Bioproducts program is extremely pleased with the conference and the visibility Finnish products received.

“Our stand attracted a lot of interested visitors. We were glad to represent all our 18 growth program companies. MetGen’s product, customised industrial enzymes speeding up processes in the pulp and paper industry, is a perfect example of Finnish companies’ innovativeness and competence. It was a great thing that MetGen won the John Sime Award. It will help them in their internationalisation.”

The winner was selected by the Forum’s participants, comprised of biotechnology professionals, investors and decision-makers, among others. Matti Heikkilä, MetGen’s Chief Technology Officer believes that the award will help the company to find partners.

“Small companies like us in the biotechnology sector do accept even great challenges and, thereby, risks, in their quest to change the world. We are also taking the industrial sector in a more sustainable direction and pointing the way for large-scale operators. Our open-minded approach and our team’s consummate competence appealed to the Forum’s audience. We are genuinely flattered by the award. It is important for us to be open to cooperation and find skillful partners.”

Paptic offers alternative to non-renewable oil-based plastic

Pia Qvintus tells that the event was really beneficial for MetGen and Paptic. Both companies got the possibility to pitch their products to important investors: BASF VC, S’InvesTec, Capricorn Venture Capital, Emerald Technology Ventures and Sofinnova Partners.

Qvintus sees a lot of potential in Paptic, a start-up company developing, producing and marketing innovative woodbased packaging material. Paptic’s recyclable, bio-based and biodegradable material offers alternative to non-renewable oil-based plastics.

“The first commercial application of Paptic’s material involves a replacement for plastic bags. Demand for Paptic’s product has increased as a result of the bans and restrictions on plastic bags that are becoming increasingly widespread in various countries.”

Also Finland's largest sparring program for SME companies, Kasvu Open, has noticed Paptic’s potential. Paptic was selected among ten Finnish companies with the most promising prospects for growth.

Opening up the bottlenecks in the growth of bioeconomy companies

Thanks to large-scale operators in the pulp and paper industry, the bioeconomy has a long tradition in Finland. New technologies and increasingly strict regulations have opened up plenty of new bioeconomy opportunities, which are being seized particularly eagerly by innovative small and medium-sized enterprises.

According to Qvintus, Finland has in addition to MetGen and Paptic, a number of small companies that represent innovative, first-rate competence. These companies are looking for international growth. Innovative Bioproducts growth program, backed up by Finpro’s Invest in Finland unit, has a significant role in matchmaking the companies with potential investors and in finding new, growing international markets.  The main target market countries are Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, USA, UK, Sweden, Russia and Japan.

“Companies in the bioeconomy industry have developed new ways to create value-added products as well as energy and resource-efficient processes and technologies for their customers. These companies are in a growth phase and share challenges involving the start-up of production, for example, as well as financing and international growth. The companies’ own resources are largely tied up in product development and production, due to which they are not necessarily able to build international partnerships and sales on their own in several markets in the long term.”

The companies involved in the programme are satisfied. MetGen’s Heikkilä gives credit to Finpro.

“We have just launched sales in our main market and will now aim to scale this into larger growth. Finpro’s help and knowledge on networking and entering new export markets has been very important for us. Finland possesses a vast amount of first-rate biotechnology know-how, but no-one is going to come over here and carry us away. Rather, we have to be bold, enter the international arena together and make ourselves known.”