Behind the scenes:  WP1 on European funding and governance structures

In previous blog posts we’ve looked at the analysis in WP1 of research activity and innovations.

In parallel, Task 1.3 led by INRAE is also investigating European funding and governance structures of forest and wood-based research and innovation.

There are three levels of analysis with different methods, enabling us to look at the European, national and regional situations.

A literature review is helping to uncover the main trends and evolution of R&I funding and governance, and how they shape the current landscape of the sector. Our preliminary results show a process of privatization and internationalization of forest research.

Partners have also created a database to list all the forest and forestry-related projects funded by the European Commission funding programmes since 2007, in order to analyse forestry R&I funding distribution at the European level.

For example, we can see the net EU funding distributed to EU countries and the UK, or the share of funding allocated by type of actors (eg research centres, higher education, private sector etc).

Preliminary observations show that for 2007-2020, most of the EU funding for forest and wood-related projects goes to Western European Countries, as well as Scandinavian countries and some Mediterranean countries. Eastern European countries are less funded, so there are important disparities in funding distribution.

If we take a look at the share of funding, we can see that most funding was attributed to private for-profit entities, closely followed by Research centres and Higher education establishments.

The rest of the analysis will be to find explanations for these observations and differences!

So far, we have focused on the European level, but we are also preparing a template for national and regional-level case studies. Our goal is to know what type of policy instruments and funding instruments are used to fund forest-related R&I, by which actors and for which actors, as well as to compare the differences between countries and regions. With the project partners in this task we are targeting Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Slovakia and Spain.

Finally, to complete our analyses with qualitative data, there will be a survey of forest R&I stakeholders. Stay tuned for more information!

Featured image: Michael Foursert on Unsplash

Behind the scenes: WP1 investigating innovation

As we saw in our previous blog post, in WP1 our partner organisations are busy mapping the status and trends of forest-based research in Europe.

In Task 1.2 led by BOKU, partners are also investigating innovation in European forestry and the forest-based sector. They are aiming to provide an overview of innovation activities, as well as looking at the trends and dynamics – for example innovation types, state of development and factors affecting innovation development.

  • A literature review of innovation-related scientific papers is under way to discover the research gaps and needs, and key lessons learned.
  • They have begun to analyse the CORDIS database of EU projects and will also analyse patents (ESPACENET).
  • Surveys and expert interviews will also take place.

In the CORDIS database analysis, we are exploring how EU research projects have targeted innovations in forestry and the forest-based sector since 2007. What are the trends in innovation, and what significant developments have occurred across the different EU funding periods?

We found 614 innovation-related projects in the CORDIS database. Our preliminary results show that FP7 had a strong focus on innovation in forest products, which was continued in Horizon 2020. However H2020 also saw a noticeable increase in projects relating to social aspects of forests and forest policy. So far, Horizon Europe has a more balanced distribution.

We can also dive further into the topic and sub-topic areas across all 614 projects. For example, we can see that forest products is the most prominent category, with a strong focus on wood products, followed by technologies and planning. This might reflect the economic importance of timber products in comparison to other aspects of forestry.

Management and social policy elements also receive significant attention, implying an integrated approach to forestry that encompasses economic, social and management considerations.

We can also look at types of innovation – whether it relates to a product, process, marketing or organisational innovation, for example. Our results show most projects related to process and product innovations.

What do we do next with this information? Our next step is to complement it with expert interviews with selected innovators and key experts, to uncover all the factors affecting innovation activities. We’ll also conduct surveys with partners, governments and interest organisations to uncover the role of all the supporting and impeding factors in data collection.

In parallel there’s also an ongoing investigation of funding and governance structures (Task 1.3) – more on this in a future blog post!

Featured image: Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash

Behind the scenes: WP1 & systematic literature review and bibliometric analysis

In WP1, partners are busy mapping the status and trends of forest-based research and innovation in Europe, as well as the research and innovation funding and its governance. The aim is to provide a knowledge base for stakeholder discussions on the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA), and roadmap.

Some of the progress made so far was presented in our European-level stakeholder workshop in Brussels in December 2023.

In Task 1.1 led by UCPH, our partners are carrying out a systematic literature review and bibliometric analysis to help answer the question: What are the research activity, capacities, geographical distribution, trends and emerging research directions in Europe?

From the literature “review of reviews”, we can see the topics which appear often in the scientific literature, and those which have been less written about. Ecology/ecosystem services and human-health-related fields represent the largest share, and there are potential knowledge gaps in certain areas – this is extremely useful when we are thinking about what future research is needed.

Our bibliometric analysis of some 35,000 studies is enabling us to look at trends in research – for example we can see the 10 most frequently used author keywords – and how those have changed from 2000 to 2022. “Climate change” and “machine learning” show large increases, for example.

We have also tried to map the knowledge space, by looking at “co-occurrences” of keywords to see the underlying structure. We have found few (very) large communities, and many small communities.

We can zoom in to particular topics too – for example to look at keywords that are associated with “bioeconomy”, and see the trends within that cluster too.

What do we do next with this information? We’re currently working on expanding our reviews to cover over 1 million scientific articles, and to try and map collaborations, institutions and countries.

In parallel there’s also an ongoing investigation of innovation (Task 1.2) and funding and governance structures (Task 1.3) – more on this in a future blog post!

Featured image: Elisa Calvet B. on Unsplash

Making communication innovative: How is EUFORE contributing to healthy forest through its communication material?

In EUFORE, research and innovation in the forest and forest-based sector is at the core of all our activities. For this reason, the EUFORE team initiated a dedicated research on different products that may guide research and innovation in the forest-value chain in the future, while providing valuable communication materials for the project. As a result, we decided to generate innovative printed materials that will convey such values and contribute to healthy forests.

Together with designer Silvia Robertelli, we identified different global actors working on sustainable innovations in the paper industry. This research resulted in several astonishing examples. For instance, the artist Dodgy Roger, from Dodgy Paper, is producing its own paper art with carefully selected paper waste with the aim of substantially reducing the amount of water consumed during the process.  

Overall, we identified more than 40 different alternatives that may guide future forestry research and innovation. Such innovative processes work with 100% post-consumer recycled papers, alternative papers based on non-wood forest materials such as cork or mushrooms, algae, agricultural or domestic waste, handmade recycled papers, and many more.

In order to develop innovative communication material for EUFORE, we chose to collaborate with a Belgian printer, Superdruk, to produce unique postcards for the project. Superdruk, as a graphic design studio with a beautiful collection of historic printing material, prints artisanally with letterpress machines. For the realisation of the postcards, Superdruk utilised its own paper material and also collaborated with European paper companies that are innovative in their sector and that could provide the material to print on: Gmund Paper, Favini, Supercollect.be.

The EUFORE postcards were produced with different kinds of paper and materials:

  • Handmade paper from high-quality paper offcuts
  • Reclaimed papers from Fine Art misprints
  • Paper from agricultural waste (process residues from almonds)
  • Paper from agricultural waste (process residues from kiwis)
  • Paper from alternative fibres (straw, grass, cotton, and cannabis)

With these unique postcards, EUFORE aims to show how innovation can help to shift to a more sustainable model and encourage the development of a circular economy where various wastes and by-products can be upcycled and therefore recovered. The postcards contain a QR code to out project’s website. They are being circulated at our events, encouraging their use by participants and stakeholders, while promoting ways to contribute to healthy forests.

Which innovations and research priorities may guide forests and the forest-based sectors in Europe? EUFORE is committed to answer this question, and set the direction of forestry research and innovation in the future through its project activities as well as through its communications efforts.