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Our approach to innovation combines our capabilities with renewable materials to drive change towards a more sustainable future. We address trends that affect our customers and end-consumers, while advancing solutions to reduce dependence on fossil-based materials.
To meet the challenges of developing new raw materials and products for the circular bio-economy, we bring together cross-disciplinary teams of highly skilled professionals, the latest research and customer insights. The combination of excellent know-how about our current products, how they are used and the processes to produce them in industrial scale is the foundation for creating new solutions. They can be new properties or uses for wood and fiber based materials, new business models or service concepts built around our core knowhow. Additionally, we are constantly looking for ways in which we can improve processes, save energy and use resources efficiently in our operations, for our customers and throughout the value chain.
We are investing for the future to strengthen our own capabilities to innovate and bring new products and solutions to the market. Stora Enso's expenditure on innovation, research and development in 2020 was EUR 146 (141) million, which was equivalent to 1.7% of sales. We have also established internal funds to be used in an agile manner in novel projects with high business potential. Intellectual property is an increasingly important tool to support our strategy. We actively assess the patent landscapes for our growth areas and evaluate where we seek partnerships through licensing IP into or out from Stora Enso.
Innovation is not limited to products; therefore, an integral part of our innovation is commercializing new ideas. The goal is to find fast-tracks towards a/the renewable and sustainable world by exploring new raw materials and solutions and testing their viability for industrial scale production in our top-notch research labs. Longer term research and early phase results are part of our engagements in Science and Research with the aim of supporting current and future Innovation activities as well as building our competence basis for bringing in new fundamental insights into the company. We acknowledge that a strong scientific foundation is essential in making right selections and choices regarding the future renewable materials solutions in terms of product and service performance as well as sustainability.
Innovation themes at Stora Enso include a focus on wooden construction, fiber-based solutions for packaging, hygiene and textile applications, lignin-based breakthrough material and chemical applications, as well as digitalisation and platform business. Addressing broader markets and different areas in the circular bioeconomy, our focus on innovation has resulted in a number of recent launches and communications, which you can read more about below.
Formed fiber products which are manufactured by pressing various wood-based pulps into a three-dimensional shape in a highly automated forming machine. Utilizing our extensive capabilities in fiber-based materials and processes, we concentrate first and foremost on replacing single-use plastic products in high-consumption markets. Formed fiber products are made from renewable sources and, depending on the end-use requirements, they can be circular by design – a renewable, recyclable and biodegradable product.
Carbon fiber to provide industrial composite producers with a sustainable, yet cost-competitive, material made from renewable and fossil-free materials. The target will be in developing carbon fiber initially for industrial applications requiring low weight and high mechanical performance, such as pultruded laminates used in manufacturing wind energy rotor blades. We also look forward to attracting more partners downstream in the value chain, such as carbon fiber companies.
Box Inc, a digital B2B marketplace for corrugated packaging made of renewable materials. It is a new platform business designed to help companies source packaging easily online, while enabling suppliers to access new customers without having to create their own digital presence. With Box Inc, we are leveraging Stora Enso’s strong market presence and knowledge of the corrugated packaging industry. As a front runner in digitalisation in our industry, we see Box Inc as a great example of a platform business adding value to suppliers and customers alike.
Bio-based carbon materials for energy storage by processing lignin into a carbon intermediate for electrode materials. We are building on our long-term work in extracting lignin from biomass and creating more value out of it. By converting lignin into so-called hard carbon anode materials for lithium-ion batteries, we can offer a product that can replace fossil-based anodes, mainly synthetic graphite, currently used in batteries.
Cellulose foam is a lightweight, fiber-based foam material for protective packaging and cushioning that replaces oil-based polymer foams. The initial target application for Cellufoam is the protective packaging of fragile products such as consumer electronics. The material offers a renewable, recyclable and biodegradable alternative to traditional oil-based packaging foams such as expanded polyethylene (EPE) and expanded polystyrene (EPS).
Intelligent Packaging ECO RFID tags, the first sustainable alternative in the market. Our technology enables RFID tags to be produced on 100% renewable paper label, without the plastic layers or harmful chemicals found in traditional tags. This makes the tags recyclable and renewable, while also being competitive with traditional inlay options in both performance and cost.
Hazardous chemicals aren't always visible to the naked eye, yet they may be in your homes or in products you use every day. We want to change this. NeoLigno® by Stora Enso is a lignin-based binder system that is fully bio-based, free from formaldehyde and free from isocyanate, that can pass the highest requirements in bonding strength and water resistance.
Value adding wooden construction tools and components supporting green building and providing alternatives to concrete and steel. We are constantly developing ways to make timber design more accessible for everyone working with design, engineering and construction. Our digital tools are free of charge and were created to simplify wood design and help you create the wooden buildings of the future.
CartoCan® package which is manufactured with a liquid packaging system provided by Hörauf including a specially developed barrier-coated paperboard produced at Stora Enso. CartoCan® is a renewable packaging solution with a premium look and feel for non-carbonated drinks as well as dry food.
Group Innovation and R&D team is coordinating the long and mid-term research supporting the Stora Enso strategic agenda. The team is connected with research providers and associations as well as innovation initiatives and start-ups.