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Report, 2014

Technological and economic barriers to introduce and apply innovations in forest energy sector

Athanassiadis, Dimitris; Wallsten, Johanna; Spinelli, Raffaele; Rodriguez, Judit; Raitila, Jyrki; te Raa, Rik; Vos, John; Dees, Matthias; Turkmengil, Taner; Walkiewicz, Juliana


This report presents results from three studies done within the Work Package 6 (Technology foresight and barriers of innovation) of the EU FP7 project INFRES. The aims of the studies were to 1) identify and rank the criteria that forest machine manufacturing companies are using to measure the success/failure of an innovation, 2) identify barriers that forest machine manufacturing companies are facing and find out how these barriers are tackled and 3) identify and discuss innovations that have been successful in the forest energy sector and innovations that were not successful and the reasons for that. In the first study, different forest technology manufacturers were asked to rank a number of criteria that determine the success of an innovation. The second study also included forest technology manufacturers answering a questionnaire about barriers and drivers for innovation. In the third study forest technology experts from all of Europe were asked to comment on 10 important innovations and also suggest if these innovations were a success or a failure in their regions. The results from study 1 revealed that manufacturers point out criteria that are related to customer relations, i.e. customer satisfaction, product performance level and meeting quality guidelines as the most important. Company benefit measures (e.g. growth of demand of the products of the company) also seemed to be prioritized. However, the answers differed among companies and more studies will be needed in order to see if company size, number of products on the market and other factors may affect the answers here. In study 2, the most important barriers were lack of financing, especially for new high‐risk projects. This is further supported by the fact that the forest technology sector is a small market and that development costs are high. Lack of skilled engineers was occasionally seen as a barrier as well. The answers regarding solutions to barriers suggest that the most important solution seem to be collaborations with customers, both to get a feel for what customers want, but also to better introduce new technology in a sometimes conservative market. Furthermore, collaborations with universities and research institutes will become more important as those will help unlock additional funding for development of innovations. However, drivers for innovations were often tied to competitiveness (to stay on top, offer the best products, being one step ahead of competitors), but there was also a few who felt rather passionate about innovation in general, so a genuine interest in product development seem to be an important driver as well. In study 3, some past innovations were evaluated and several issues were raised as key factors in the success: productivity, investment, flexibility, maintenance, suitable environment, competition, marketing or conservatism. Innovations that increased productivity of the operations, reduced the cost and were flexible (can work in most conditions) were identified as successful. On the other hand innovations that are poorly marketed, require complicated logistics, can only be used in specific conditions and have a low productivity were considered as a failure.


Forest Biomass, Innovation, Analytic Hierarchy Process

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Publisher: inFRes