The theme for this year’s event was Maine’s Future in the Global Bioeconomy, and featured a keynote address from Jaana Husu-Kallio, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Finland. Over the past 10 years, Finland has transformed their forest industry into a dynamic cluster of more than 50 pulp and paper mills with over 200 other production sites. Today, the country’s bioeconomy sector employs more than 300,000 people and produces (along with wood products and paper) advanced biofuels, biodegradable packaging, chemicals, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. Maine is the most forested state in the U.S., and looking to advance its position as a leader in bioeconomy. Finland’s success can offer a blueprint.
“Finland has always looked to its forests, we know the material we have is green gold, and we need to protect the resource while we look to create new products with higher values and strong markets,” said Jaana Husu-Kallio. “I came here to share Finland’s story and and learn about Maine’s bioeconomy, what do we have in common and what we can learn from each other.”
Following the keynote address, a panel of experts that included Øyvind Fylling-Jensen, CEO, Nofima, John Kettle, Director, Customer Solutions and International Relations, Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), Petri Sirvio, Global Director Incubation, Business Development, Stora Enso, and Olavur Gregersen, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Ocean Rainforest in the Faroe Islands spoke to the audience about the challenges and opportunities of the bioeconomy.
Wade Merritt, President of the Maine International Trade Center, was pleased to welcome the Nordic panel of experts and acknowledged the relationship building that Dana Eidsness, the Director of the Maine North Atlantic Development Office, has done with people in countries like Finland, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands over the past several years to strengthen economic ties with Maine.