On December 1, Synbio Powerhouse took part in Y Science - A Slush 2021 side event. During this event, the finals of the Synbio Power Pitch Competition 2021 took place. This week, we had the opportunity to interview Dario Forneris from Nordic Bioproducts, the winning team who took home the 5,000€ prize.
Question: Could you tell us a bit about the story of Nordic Bioproducts?
Nordic Bioproducts Group is a spin-off from Aalto University developing and commercializing smart biotechnologies and novel exciting biomaterials.
It was established in 2019 by two members of the Clean Technologies research team: Professor Olli Dahl and Senior Commercializing Officer Olli Kähkönen in cooperation with Aalto University School of Chemical Engineering. The first key objective of Nordic Bioproducts has been the commercialization of Aaltocell™ technology to produce Microcrystalline Cellulose and derivatives for several market applications.
Today we are multidisciplinary team of 16 entrepreneur-minded people, having academical background in business, engineering, chemistry, and design to secure the full impact of our novel bio-innovations.
Question: As Business Design and Sustainability Lead, what does your role at Nordic Bioproducts entail?
It is a very fluid and exciting role as we are still a young company with great ambitions. Business design is a relatively new branch of business development that is more directly influenced by design thinking and other assets of the design process. As a Business Design Lead, I iterate quickly to test and develop multiple strategic options and business models to create positive economic and environmental impact.
This way of operating is key to limit risks, develop sustainable circular business concepts and to get true technology market fit faster.
Question: So, sugars are the future. Why so? Why do you think the industry should place an emphasis on waste streams as a source for making new materials and products?
Sugars will play a major role as source of energy for synthetic biology processes and more. As we are going forward, it is becoming more exciting to see how synthetic biology really is key to efficiently produce vital resources in the future.
Since these sugars will be one of the great protagonists of our envisioned sustainable future, we are working hard today to develop new ways of producing them in large quantities.
Circular economy is directly inspired by the way nature solves complex challenges. By “thinking as nature” we believe in designing processes that will not create waste streams or residues in the first place. This is not easy but novel technologies and holistic approaches to solve complex problems will open the doors to find sustainable and long-lasting solutions.
It is great to see how already the industry is pivoting towards higher valorisation of side streams and waste streams considering them more and more as resource and opportunities.
Question: How was your experience as a participant at the Synbio Power Pitch Competition 2021? What would you say were the main takeaways from this experience?
It has been a great experience. Well-structured and surrounded by extremely professional people with high ambitions.
My main takeaway from this experience is that, when preparing a pitch or any other type of talk, the content of the story and the way the story is narrated are equally important to capture the attention of the audience. Sometimes it is easy to get lost in your own perspective, rich in details, which then make the story more difficult to understand. It has required us a lot of work to make our story simple enough so that it could resonate with a larger audience coming from different backgrounds and knowledge levels.
Question: As one of the finalists of the Synbio Power Pitch competition, how was your experience at Y Science?
It was exciting and very energizing to be one of the finalists. To win the competition has then taken things to a whole new level! It has been a very positive and inspiring experience.
Question: What is in store for Nordic Bioproducts in the near future?
We are currently building up our own innovation centre in the heart of Otaniemi. It will be something different that for sure will attract a lot of interest. We believe we are creating something truly unique. You will hear soon more 😉
Parallel to this, we are setting up also our first commercial facility utilizing Aaltocell™ technology to produce Microcrystalline Cellulose derivatives. This is a major milestone for us to scale-up and take Nordic Bioproducts to the next level.
More information: https://www.nordicbioproducts.fi/