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Best in Finland through clean technology

Things are about to get busy in the Kyynijärvi district in the town of Nokia, in the Tampere Region. The Eco3 area will be built there – a nationally significant hub of bioeconomy and circular economy companies. It will be a site of new kinds of industry where waste becomes raw material and new ideas are refined into business and exports. Even the area’s design results from a new kind of co-operation.

The anchor companies of the Eco3 area have shaken hands on approximately EUR 50 million in investments in the area for 2016–2019.

Cleantech refers to activities that reduce the environmental load caused by humans. It conserves materials and energy and also provides opportunities to develop new business.

Eco3, the industrial heart of the Kolmenkulma cleantech area, started developing when Nokian Vesi Oy decided to place its new wastewater treatment plant there. Pirkanmaan Jätehuolto Oy, which had been planning a biodigester, decided that the sludge generated by the treatment plant would serve as a suitable raw material for its biodigester and that it made sense to put the two plants close to each other.

It is a typical partnership for the Eco3 area: each company strives to function as a part of the whole, for example enabling others to process its products as much as possible. The biodigester would be complemented by a company that, say, turns the recovered biogas into traffic fuel or processes soil products for specialised applications.

“It is important for us to have the nutrients in biowaste and sludge recycled and utilised in agriculture, forestry and landscaping, for example. Using the biogas in traffic would also replace some of the use and import of fossil fuels,” says Managing Director Harri Kallio of Pirkanmaan Jätehuolto.

Phosphorus, for example, is an interesting nutrient because it is an important fertiliser in agriculture whose reserves have become a global concern.

“It is part of the core philosophy of the Eco3 area to make the region as self-sufficient as possible regarding phosphorus, for example, thanks to nutrient recovery – and it is also environmentally important to prevent the nutrient from ending up in the water system,” says Managing Director Ilkka Laukkanen of Nokian Vesi.

According to Managing Director Ilkka Laukkanen, Nokian Vesi is preparing for future challenges in wastewater treatment by making its new treatment plant easily modifiable.

The Eco3 project involves companies, research institutions, authorities and public corporations. The City of Nokia and property development company Verte Oy play a crucial role in the area’s development work. The big investments decided for the area have already caught widespread interest, so there is more news about company relocations and investments to come.

“Eco3 is a platform that interests many kinds of operators. We are currently in negotiations and, in the future, things may start rolling in interesting directions once suitable and complementary companies join the team,” says Laukkanen.

“Private companies have in-depth expertise in their own fields, while public operators have mastered large systems – we truly want to use that as a basis for finding new models that are useful to everyone at Eco3,” says Kallio.

Kallio and Laukkanen praise the co-operative spirit of the project. All involved share the aim of becoming the best in Finland through the Eco3 project – and they emphasise that a good system is one that makes it possible to achieve the goal.

Managing Director Harri Kallio of Pirkanmaan Jätehuolto considers the co-operative spirit of the Eco3 project one of its special strengths.

Tampere Region Economic Development Agency Tredea is involved in developing the area. It finds companies in Finland and abroad that are interested in the area and actively contacts them. Investigating the collaboration opportunities of companies and finding new partners is an important part of the work. The aim is to get new companies to move to the area and link their operations into the regional corporate network.

“The need for cleantech solutions is growing constantly around the world. In the Eco3 area, cleantech will be translated into practical activities in the coming years, making it the best bioeconomy and circular economy hub in Finland,” says Development Manager, Cleantech Pirkko Eteläaho of Tredea.

The aim is to make Eco3 an area where companies can develop and trial clean technology techniques, and where visitors from near and far come to see new innovations. If a company has an innovation connected to wastewater, for example, a real treatment plan offers ideal test conditions.

“The wastewater treatment plant will be designed to facilitate the testing and demonstration of new technologies,” says Laukkanen.

“People are facing the same environmental challenges in other parts of the world, so the development of new technologies always opens opportunities for export. On the other hand, a smoothly functioning system might also attract foreign investments,” says Kallio.

Cleantech is one of the strong points of the Tampere City Region, which offers great preconditions for success in the field, says Development Manager, Cleantech Pirkko Eteläaho of Tampere Region Economic Development Agency Tredea.

From Nokia to the export market

Information about the Eco3 area reached the environmental technology company Ecomation Oy just when the company was making decisions about where to build a pyrolysis plant. Other localities were already strong contestants, but Nokia rapidly started looking like the best fit for the company’s purposes – especially when the city got the land and permit issues rolling smoothly and Tredea mapped suitable partners for them.

“We are naturally interested in the synergy advantage with the area’s other companies. They will include a raw material supplier as well as potential users of our end products,” says Ecomation CEO Tommi Pajala.

In a little over a year, a plant for processing decommissioned car tyres and plastic waste unsuitable for other types of reuse will be completed in the Eco3 area. Ecomation’s latest pyrolysis technique will use them to create oil, coal and gas – generating no emissions and hardly any waste.

“The idea of Ecomation is to enable the circular economy in practice. We strive to ensure that everything generated by our process is suitable for further processing,” says Pajala.

The close location of partners makes sense when it comes to logistics, but the Eco3 area also offers image advantages for the company. Ecomation aims to export its new technology, and the Eco3 area plant will be the place where they invite foreign investors to see with their own eyes how the process works and how it links with the area’s other activities. Other plants with the same technology will also be built in other parts of Finland, but the Eco3 unit will be the first of its kind.

“Ecomation is a small company but it is strongly expansion-oriented. The plant is Nokia is a very important project for us because it will help us set a course for the international market,” says Pajala.

Eco3 area

  • Part of the Kolmenkulma cleantech business area at the intersection of Nokia, Tampere and Ylöjärvi.
  • The area restructures industry by enabling new kinds of collaboration models and innovations which are refined into business and exports.
  • The area has an excellent logistics location, both locally and globally, at the intersection of main roads and a 10-minute drive from the airport.
  • The Tampere City Region already has a comprehensive cleantech competence network: companies, research and experts. For further information and contacts: investtampere.fi
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