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SIRKULÆRØKONOMI-Sirkulær økonomi

Addressing climate change with innovation in the forest-based industry (Inno4Tree)

Alternative title: Å ta tak i klimaendringer med innovasjon i de skogbaserte næringene (Inno4Tree)

Awarded: NOK 10.4 mill.

Norway’s national strategy for the forestry and wood-based industry has defined several goals related to an increased use of wood in the construction industry. Wood is a renewable material and has a considerably lower carbon footprint compared to steel and concrete. In order to reduce the environmental impact of the construction industry, it is necessary to make wood a more natural choice in constructions than it is today. The Inno4Tree project has the overall objective to facilitate a sustainable transition of the construction industry to the circular bioeconomy, by substituting concrete and steel with wooden construction material. For companies experienced only in concrete and steel, the shift to wood entails risks which may be high without the right competences. The reason why the price of a wood-project is today often higher than a similar project in concrete and steel is not only the price of the material, but also a lack of experience. Our project draws attention on possible forms of cooperation between the industry and the educational institutions to meet the industrial needs. We analyse competence needs and existing education offers related to wood-based construction. Our project has a special focus on intermediary organizations such as professional associations, cluster organisations and knowledge brokers, which can be central for upgrading the workforce skills. The Norwegian bioeconomy strategy also advocates for policies that facilitate cross-industry synergies. The construction industry is particularly complex and requires the coordination of architects, engineers, builders and suppliers. Synergies may be developed more easily when decisions are taken together by different companies. For instance, companies which use actively their steering boards for getting access to new value chains are better prepared for developing innovative strategies. We study public data on boards of directors of Norwegian companies, in order to detect connections between firms and suggest new synergies between the construction industry and the forest-based industries.

The Inno4Tree project has the overall objective of facilitating a sustainable transition of the construction industry to the circular bioeconomy, by substituting concrete and steel with wood as construction material. To achieve this goal, we will analyze the importance of corporate governance in forest-based value chains, the position of intermediary organizations in the forest-based bioeconomy, and the provision of competences in the construction sector. These three theoretical perspectives will be applied on wooden construction materials, the construction of wooden buildings and the construction of wooden bridges, which will be addressed in three respective work packages; specific attention will be paid to processes regarding recirculation of construction materials. A fourth work package will synthesize and coordinate the project. The project will address important scientific challenges and knowledge needs to achieve the project objective. This will allow us to trace interactions and knowledge flows in the forest-based industry and the construction sector, highlighting the need for and effects of long-term corporate governance, enabling bridging intermediaries and introducing and improving the right competencies for the right people in the different parts of the industry. The project will apply an interdisciplinary approach, combining qualitative and quantitative methods. The interdisciplinarity is required since we follow research lines in evolutionary economics, business administration, innovation studies, political studies and learning theory. The scientific results of the project will also provide a new, interdisciplinary, approach to address challenges in the circular economy. Main methods will be network analysis, case studies, policy analysis, media analysis and interviews. The involvement of industry and policy stakeholders will be achieved through a series of workshops and two-way communication fora.

Funding scheme:

SIRKULÆRØKONOMI-Sirkulær økonomi