CLIC Innovation and FinCEAL Plus Seminar: Re Energizing International Cooperation, Renewable Energy Research with Third Countries organized in Helsinki on 19 November connected renewable energy experts

CLIC Innocation (Finnish Bioeconomy and Cleantech Cluster) and FinCEAL Plus organized a joint 1-day seminar on international cooperation in Renewable Energy research, focusing especially on research collaboration with Third Countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean region. The seminar gathered together over 50 participants, mostly researchers from different universities and research institution, as well as representatives of funding institutions, ministries and foreign embassies, private sector and NGO representatives to share information on current initiatives, discuss the challenges and best practices related to cooperation with Third Countries, as well as provide information in funding opportunities within the Horizon2020 framework.

The seminar started with welcome words from Programme Manager Pia Salokoski from Tekes. After the greetings and an overview of the objectives and activities from the organizers of the seminar, CLIC Innovation and FinCEAL Plus, Tuula Savola from the Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy National Contact Point in Tekes gave an introduction to the upcoming Energy Calls of Horizon2020. The day was divided into three thematic sessions in which international cooperation in Renewables, Biomass and Sustainability was discussed by top experts representing wide range of Finnish universities, research institutes and companies.

Professor Christian Breyer from the Lappeenranta University of Technology opened the Renewables session and shared some interesting figures about 100 % Renewable Energy in North- and Southeast Asia. Professor Breyer e.g. concluded that 100 % renewable energy system is reachable in North- and Southeast Asia and that the most important sources for energy in the region are solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and wind energy. In addition, he stated that biomass and hydropower contribute typically less than 10 % each, and that the hydro dams can be used as a virtual battery for solar and wind electricity balancing.
In their speech Senior Scientist Carmen A
ntuña Rozado and Research Scientist Sanna Uski from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland gave some examples of VTT’s EcoCities and Smart City Solutions in renewable energy for Africa. The projects presented included UN Giriri-, UNEP Nairobi-, and Energy Policy, Regulatory Framework and Energy Future in Namibia projects. In addition, EcoNBC-New Borg El-Arab EcoCity in Egypt, EcoLusaka Project in Zambia and introduction of VTT services for stakeholders in the whole wind power value chain were discussed.
The last speech of the session was given by Research Director, Dr. Jari Kaivo-Oja from the Finland Futures Research Centre, University of Turku. He gave interesting insights to the Renewable Energy Changes in Asia and Caribbean. Dr. Kaivo-Oja discussed about their systematic R&D and capacity building solutions for sustainable and renewable energy futures in 9 countries, global trends in renewable energy investments, the Caribbean region as a virtual powerhouse of solar and other renewable sources, and renewable energy demand in Asia in relation to the population growth. In addition, their EUFORIE – European Futures for Energy Efficiency Systemic in Horizon 2020 and Neo-Carbom Enabling Neo-Growth Society: Transformative Energy Futures 2050 (NEO-FORE) projects were introduced.

The Biomass-session was opened by a speech from Researcher Anas Zyadin from the University of Eastern Finland. Zyadin introduced the Sustainable Bioenergy Solutions for Tomorrow (BEST, CLIC Innovation) Project Phase I Case examples in India. In his speech Zyadin concluded that there is a high potential of biomass in India requiring challenging but rewarding investments. He also discussed about biomass modern supply chain and transportation. Zyadin also concluded that the biomass research cooperation in India should include all stakeholders and NGOs with incentives for local associations and cooperatives.
Professor Pedro Fardim from Åbo Akademi University gave some refreshing tips for building and sustaining collaboration in the field of biomass and renewable energy with Brazil. In his presentation he concluded that as collaborations are initiated and sustained by people a "dating road map" should be developed. According to Professor Fardim it is important to make a collaboration road map with a partner and be flexible and determined. In addition, building ones own interactions based on win-win opportunities and scenarios are all important in Brazilia cooperation.
The last speaker of the session, Professor Timo Tokola from the University of Eastern Finland gave a speech about forest biomass resource assessment technologies in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The speech concentrated on forest data collection and remote sensing examples and research activities in India, Laos, Nepal, Vietnam, Mosambique, Kenya, Peru and Brazil. In addition, socio-economic expertise in technical subjects and regional cooperation between agriculture, wildlife, census and forestry were discussed.

Speakers lined up for discussion

Sustainability session started with a speech from Project Researcher Joni Karjalainen from the Finland Futures Reserch Centre. Karjalainen discussed about networks as enablers for international cooperation in African countries and gave three case examples of local renewable energy related networks with Cameroon, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. In addition, his speech also focused on the NEO-CARBON ENERGY research project.
The second speech of the session was given by Sustainability Director Pekka Tuovinen from Neste Oyj and he gave an interesting talk about sustainability in renewable biofuels with experiences from Southeast Asia. In his speech Tuovinen talked about the palm oil use, promoted sustainable operations in agriculture and new methods in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, social aspects related to the production such as cooperation with suppliers to improve labor issues were discussed.
The last speaker of the seminar Researcher Tatu Lyytinen from the New Global Project, Aalto University gave a speech about sustainability of frugal bioenergy solutions and a case of husk power systems in India and related pilots e.g. in Tanzania. Related ecological, social, and economic sustainability aspects were also discussed.

Each of the sessions concluded in an open discussion where participants could comment and ask questions from the speakers. The day ended with a Learning Café that gave the participants a chance to interact, work together and build on the discussions that had arisen during the seminar day. In a rotating system everyone had a chance to participate in three thematic tables which were followed by a final discussion highlighting the best practices.

In the Table 1, coordinated by Kajsa Ekroos and Dr. Jarkko Mutanen from FinCEAL Plus, the discussion revolved around how and where to get and share information on current research initiatives. Two main topics, Funding Challenges, and Partnering and Networking were discussed. It was agreed that in the Funding Challenges it is important to find "non-mainstream" calls that are not announced by EC, Aka or Tekes. It is also important to find the calls with reasonable chances of getting funding and keeping track of those calls in topics that are not exactly in one’s own field but near enough. In addition, partnering with the private sector and maintaining a close dialogue with policy makers was discussed. In Partnering and networking finding synergies with the private sector was found to be a major challenge and another problematic issue was that SME’s do not sometimes have interests in partnering with universities and researcher institutions. It was also agreed that national cooperation of Finnish institutions, and networking and information sharing could be strengthened e.g. by organizing more seminars that invite professionals across sectors. In addition, taking part in pitching and story-telling competitions and Finnish energy clusters were found to offer better networking chances.

In the Table 2, coordinated by Professor Pedro Fardim, the discussion revolved around tips and best practices for building and sustaining collaboration with Third Countries. It was agreed that understanding local context and culture and identifying the right institutions to work with are important in Third Country collaborations. It also important to have student and researcher mobility and creating win-win scenarios by identifying common challenges and interests with some best practices. The list of best practices discussed includes talking to a local government, making a checklist, establishing personal contacts, maintaining communication with local partners, engaging the institutions, exchanging ideas in Social Media, networking, joint and twinning projects, team matching and joint efforts, internationalization of own team, research gates, collaborative platforms and international groups. The last main topic discussed was building trust for long-term collaboration and topics related to a business model.

Group Discussion in the Learning Café.

Table 3 was coordinated by Senior Adviser Outi Kauppinen from the EU Research and Innovation Programmes, Tekes. This table focused in funding sources and other opportunities for building new projects. The main funding sources discussed were: EU / Horizon 2020, ERANets-SA, Academy of Finland, Tekes BEAM, Finnpartnership-FinnFund, Nordic Funds, Banks, Targeted Calls, United Nations/World Bank, Crow-funding. Other sources discussed were: Technology platforms, Melinda Gates Foundation, Investors-SLUSH, Networking, Subcontracting, Foundations that fund PhDs, Local national innovation funding, ERANET:Innovation systems, Private companies, IFC – financing corporations, Regional Development Banks, Local governments.

Link to the seminar program.

CLIC Innovation and FinCEAL+ thank the speakers and participants for the active and inspiring seminar!