The 5th networking event of FibreNet was SUPPOSE to take place in a beautiful October Helsinki (?) darkness and cozyness, but instead we ended up in sitting and communicating by our laptops/PC´s and microphones&headsets around Europe for 5 days in a row. Despite this lack of physical contact and social gatherings, we were able to dive into the exiting world of research results of our talented Early Stage Researchers and to the complicated and interesting world of product commercialization.
Applications and manufacturing processes of bio-based fibre products. This was the title of our 5th event. Very broad topic, how to tackle this? What makes the manufacturing of bio-based fibre products special? What is common with oil-based or mineral-based products? What are the differences?
The first day of training event was dedicated to the commercialization process in an industrial company. In Kemira we have been in operation for 100 years now as a company, and throughout these years of our existence we have been changing our product portfolio and manufacturing processes several times, although some products still remain and keep selling in the market. Ability to adapt, ability to change, competencies to understand the customer needs and world megatrends, and desire to be excellent in what you do - these skills are needed through the decades, to be able to survive. We were more than happy and very honoured to host this event, although not being able to do so face-to-face.
During the first day our experts were opening up the processes and practices for ensuring that the development which is done in a company, also has realistic possiblities to be commercialized to the market. First presentation was focusing on describing the New Product Development (NPD) process for bringing an idea into evaluation, development, scale-up and commercialization. After each stage there is a gate approval by the business owner in our company, and the commercialization process starts already at an early stage of this process. Other presentation focused on IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) and the third on Product Safety and Regulatory Affairs. In the development of new products, and especially if the raw materials are new and novel, both these aspects are important to understand at the early stage of the development and research, taking special consideration into the geographical location of the targeted market and local legislations. Safety of our employees and environment when manufacturing, and health and safety of the end-users of our products needs to be the first priorities in all our actions and decisions.
Internal processes/methods/rules/procedures sound maybe first a subject of boring and less tempting kind, maybe even leading to activities that might slow down the process of innovative development work so evidently needed in companies and universities? These processes however not only ensure EHSQ (Environement, Health, Safety and Quality) of our operations and products, but also act as a first-class tool for efficient communication. Communicating the targets of the research, the outcomes, the hurdles, the risks and the opportunities and possibilities – this is a challenge to all of us! None of us is going to change the world with bio-based products without seamless teamwork through countless levels in organizations and different groups and teams throughout the value chain when turning a unique, bio-based raw material into valuable, high-quality and affordable products for the consumers in the world!
ERSs: you are all doing great work and wish you all the best in your field of research; networking is possible also during these times, let´s stay in touch and even tighten our co-operation; virtual tools offer us a possibility to travel to each other in a flash of a second, communication is all in our own hands.
Writers from Kemira:
Mari Zabihian, Sr Manager, R&D and Technology
Leif Robertsén, Senior principal research scientist