Wound care dressing made from nanocellulose to win Uusi Puu – New Wood 2021 Competition

The winners of the Uusi Puu – New Wood 2021 Competition were announced on April 29, 2021 at the pre-PulPaper online event. Both the competition and the public vote were won by the UPM Biomedicals FibDex wound care dressing made from nanocellulose. FibDex wound dressing speeds up wound healing and reduces pain experienced by the patients.

The Uusi puu – New Wood 2021 Competition invited pioneering companies to offer new wood-based solutions to global challenges. The competition was held for the fourth time.

The entries were evaluated by a ten-member jury consisting of members of parliament, as well as representatives of business and research. The jury included MP’s Tiina Elo, Sari Multala, Jari Myllykoski, Anders Norrback and Arto Pirttilahti, Professor Ali Harlin (VTT), Managing Director Erno Järvinen (Finnish Forest Foundation), Senior Scientist Juha-Matti Katajajuuri (LUKE), Director General, CEO Nina Kopola (Business Finland) and Executive Director Tiina Kähö (Smart & Clean Foundation).

The jury assessed the entries for their capability to solve global challenges as well as their social significance, sustainability, innovative use of wood, and global market opportunities. The winners of the Uusi puu – New Wood 2021 competition were announced at the Virtual pre-PulPaper event on April 29, 2021.Pre-PulPaper is the forest industry’s leading international event, and it was held online this year. The award ceremony was chaired by Erno Järvinen, Managing Director of Finnish Forest Foundation, and VTT Research Professor Ali Harlin.

The following solutions were awarded in the Uusi Puu – New Wood 2021 competition:

  • 1st Prize: FibDex – Wound care dressing made from nanocellulose by UPM Biomedicals
  • 2nd Prize: Rasweet – Natural sweetener from birchwood by KoivuBioTech
  • 3rd Prize: Sulapac – Aesthetically appealing and multi-functional biomaterial by Sulapac
  • ”Everyday Heroes” Special Recognition Award: Sustainable food service packaging for Norwich City F.C. – Kotkamills & Pyroll

Wound care dressing was the public’s favourite

The competition entries were presented during the spring in the Uusi puu social media channels, and a public vote was held on April 1-18, 2021.
A total of 1,382 votes were given, and the top vote winning entries were:

  • 1st place: FibDex – Wound care dressing made from nanocellulose – UPM Biomedicals (19% of public votes)
  • 2nd place: Sustainable food service packaging for Norwich City F.C. – Kotkamills & Pyroll (13% of public votes)
  • 3rd place: Aesthetically appealing and multi-functional biomaterial – Sulapac (10% of public votes)

The cutting edge of the competition provides solutions to societal challenges and supports sustainable development

1st Prize: Nanocellulose promotes wound healing

The nanocellulose produced by UPM has excellent cell and tissue compatibility and great water retention properties. These properties are exploited in the FibDex® wound dressing. FibDex is manufactured in Lappeenranta, Finland. The raw material is birchwood harvested from sustainably managed forests. In Finland, the performance of FibDex has been proven, as plastic surgeons have used FibDex in skin graft transplantations. Clinical trials have proven the excellent performance of FibDex: it promotes wound healing, reduces pain, and produces better skin tissue. A FibDex dressing requires no changing during wound care, and it peels off by itself once the wound is healed. This helps to avoid skin tearing due to dressing changes, which in turn helps to avoid slowing down the healing process. Thus, the healing process is less painful for the patients and more efficient for the hospital. In addition to better treatment results, faster recovery times translate to cost savings for hospitals and for the society. Nanocellulose provides a platform for the development of advanced cell-based treatments, which in the future can be applied in the treatment of chronic wounds, for example diabetic foot ulcers.

The FibDex wound care dressing made from nanocellulose demonstrates the capability of the long-established Finnish innovation and product development activity to create an authentic, new product which is a true trailblazer also on a worldwide scale. This is an exciting product. Patients will especially appreciate its pain-relieving qualities. At the same time, it also saves costs, time and money, and its environmental impacts are lower, states jury member Tiina Kähö, Executive Director of Smart & Clean Foundation.

2nd Prize: Natural sweetener from forest side-streams

Rasweet is a natural sweetener made from the inner bark of birchwood, isolated from the side streams of the Finnish forest industry. There were no previous studies on the use of the inner bark of birchwood as a sweetener source. Rasweet is an entirely new product innovation, an outcome of decade-long research conducted in co-operation with Luonnonvarakeskus (The Natural Resources Institute of Finland) and the University of Helsinki. The production of Rasweet utilises biotechnology to manufacture a highly refined product from renewable natural resources. This innovation is based on circular economy. It reduces material waste and thus promotes more efficient use of wood materials. Rasweet can be produced using the facilities that are already in operation in Finland. The raw wood material from which Rasweet is isolated, can be futher utilised and reused in other products. Rasweet is a natural alternative for synthetic, artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and acesulfame. Currently, there are no similar natural sweeteners on the market. The world’s total sweetener market is valued at 55 billion dollars. Rasweet can be used as a sweetener in all food and beverage products. Rasweet contains raspberry ketone, a value molecule which has a positive effect on metabolism and may assist in weight control. There is clinical evidence on this subject. It also contains low-calorie monosugars. At product development stage, the taste and calorie content of Rasweet are customized and optimally fitted for each end product.

Rasweet is a great example of multidisciplinary research and product development. In this product, side-streams are utilised in an entirely novel way. Not only is this sweetener a natural product, it’s also a low-calorie and low-energy product. It has undoubtedly many uses and great potential, and thus market potential as well, stated the jury member, MP Sari Multala.

3rd Prize: Aesthetically appealing and multi-functional biomaterial

Sulapac biomaterials can be used to replace traditional plastics in various applications, such as cosmetics jars, drinking straws, single-use utensils and food packaging. The materials are biobased and organically recyclable. The Sulapac material biodegrades naturally into water, carbon dioxide and biomass. No permanent microplastics are left behind. The main components are wood and plant-based binders. Always harvested from certified forests, the wood material comes from the side streams of the forest industry. With their unique, natural appearance and impression of luxury, Sulapac materials communicate responsibility and sustainability. Sulapac also feels natural. The premium material actually contains beautiful and clearly visible wood chips. In addition, Sulapac was designed to feel and sound like ceramic material, which gives premium products an air of luxury. Sulapac is an award-winning and patented material innovation based on circular economy. As existing plastic production facilities can be used to produce Sulapac products, shifting from traditional plastics to a responsible alternative has become an easy and economically viable course of action.

Sulapac is an interesting product, states MP Arto Pirttilahti. Being biodegradable, it’s a great plastic replacer. This is particularly useful for products with short life spans. Usability value is higher as Sulapac products can be produced using existing plastics manufacturing machinery. Utilising the forest industry’s side-stream flows in the production of this product addresses circular economy viewpoints.

Everyday Heroes Special Recognition Award: Finnish packaging expertise for international fields
Developed jointly by Kotkamills and Pyroll for Norwich City Football Club, the set of responsible and sustainable service packaging is made of plastic-free and fully recyclable Kotkamills’ barrier board. The service set contains two boxes and a cup. Typically, single-use cartonboard food service ware is PE-coated which makes recycling difficult, and so it often ends up in energy waste streams or landfills. Produced using dispersion technology, Kotkamills’ barrier boards can be sorted with normal paper or board, as they contain no plastics or other materials that would require separation. Both the production and recycling processes of Kotkamills materials are energy-efficient, as no energy is needed for offline coating nor for material separation in repulping. After use, the boxes and cups are placed in specific recycling bins at the stadium. This allows easy recovery and recycling of the wood fiber contents as raw material for other paper or board products. After first use, wood fiber can be reused up to six times. When correctly recycled, the packaging is resource-efficient raw material, rather than waste. If not recycled, compostable packaging still reduces long-term waste accumulation. The raw wood material used in the production of the cartonboard has been harvested from sustainably managed, certified sources.

This is an excellent solution and scalable on an international level, states Juha-Matti Katajajuuri, Senior Scientist from Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke). Developed jointly by Kotkamills and Pyroll, this service packaging solution offers plastic-free barrier board properties, combined with full recyclability. This solution facilitates recycling at various events, even larger ones. Using these service packages, even larger crowds can help advance plastic-free circular economy. How great would it be, getting to watch Norwich City and Teemu Pukki in action in Premier League games.

Watch the videos presenting the six finalists:

FibDex – Wound care dressing made from nanocellulose – UPM Biomedicals
Rasweet – Natural sweetener from birchwood – KoivuBioTech
Aesthetically appealing and multi-functional biomaterial – Sulapac
Sustainable food service packaging for Norwich City F.C. – Kotkamills & Pyroll
Biofiber-based carbon-negative acoustic panel – Lumir Bioboard
Plastic replacing, wood-based packaging material – Paptic


Competition website

Video of all 23 competition candidates

Contact persons:

  • FibDex wound care dressing: Johana Kuncová-Kallio, Director, UPM Biomedicals, johana.kuncova-kallio@upm.com, +358 40 612 6300
  • Rasweet sweetener: Minna Finstad, Founder, Communication & Media, KoivuBioTech, minna@rasweet.com, +358 40 708 5602
  • Sulapac: Ami Rubinstein, Deputy CEO, Sulapac, ami.rubinstein@sulapac.com,+358 50 402 8400
  • Sustainable food service packaging: Saila Kettunen, VP, Sustainability and Communications, Kotkamills Oy, saila.kettunen@kotkamills.com, +358 40 831 4763

For more information about the competition, please contact:

Ms Virpi Korhonen, Project Manager
Uusi puu – New Wood Project
Metsäviestintä Oy
Salomonkatu 17 A 5th floor, 00100 Helsinki
Tel. + 358-400-697973
Email virpi.korhonen@uusipuu.fi

Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube: @uusipuu

Uusi puu
The goal of the Uusi puu project is to increase general awareness of the wood-based bioeconomy; highlighting new and existing products and solutions, exploring their impact on society, and offering expert perspectives on the outlook for this innovative industry. Comprising more than 20 Finnish organisations, Uusi puu is a community that promotes wood-based bioeconomy and provides information to influencers and political decision-makers about the significance and value of wood-based products.

Uusi puu member organisations:
Jaakkoo-Taara – Jospak – Jyväskylän ammattikorkeakoulu – Kotkamills – Lumir – Metsä Group – Metsähallitus – Maa- ja metsätaloustuottajain Keskusliitto MTK – Puunjalostusinsinöörit – Paperiliitto – Paptic – Pyroll – Stora Enso Packaging – Sulapac – Suomen Aaltopahviyhdistys – Suomen Metsäsäätiö – Tampereen ammattikorkeakoulu – Tampereen yliopisto – Teknologian tutkimuskeskus VTT – UPM – Walki – Woodio

Read release on the STT Info website

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