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Finnish CTOs: resource circulation should be encouraged by tax deduction of investment costs

A new survey suggests ignoring opportunities for industrial symbiosis could be losing companies a lot of money...


Susanna Perko

Senior Lead, Industrial Symbiosis, The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra


Resource scarcity is the new trend. We have, for instance, too little clean water, energy, and sparse raw materials. At the same time many resource side-flows from production are being thrown away or seen as waste. The mountains of garbage at the landfills are growing as we speak. Could your waste be my gold? Can this even be seen as a new underused business opportunity? According to the CTO Survey 2014, the respondents – Finnish Chief Technology Officers, or CTOs – believe so.

A good example of a new business in this area is the Finnish company Crisolteq, who saves valuable materials from the side-flows of the chemical industry. Through this process it differentiates industrial metals that couldn’t be used otherwise. Another example is the collaboration between Sandvik and Kuusakoski; a win-win situation in which Sandvik gets back its valuable rare metals.

Using other companies’ side flows for your own production is called industrial symbiosis. Over 50% of CTOs see that the value of their products and/or services could be highly improved by collaborating across industries. But the system is complex. How to encourage big and small international companies across different industries to collaborate together? How do they even find each other and understand each other’s needs and material flows?

Obviously, the understanding of the value needs to be increased. But also large scale investments into joint pilot and demonstration facilities are needed. According to the survey the Finnish CTOs feel that tax deductibility of costs would be the most natural funding model for encouraging industrial symbiosis initiatives in Finland.

If getting the investment money is no issue, what are the company’s internal drivers to start investing into collaboration? According to CTOs the three most important factors for driving industrial symbiosis in their companies are the usual suspects: 1) company strategy; 2) cost reduction; and 3) improved profitability. Before we get there, more good examples are needed.

Last but not least, it is important to remember that resource circulation is not only a potential new business but also helps make sure our children won’t drown in our waste. There is a lot of unused gold out there.

The results come from the CTO Survey that Spinverse executed in September – October of 2013. It was the fourth time that this annual survey was made. 100 Finnish CTOs participated in the study; including almost half of the CTOs of the companies among top 100 R&D investors in Finland. The CTO Survey examined the Finnish R & D investment landscape and innovation ecosystems in both large and small companies. The CTO Forum is a joint undertaking between Spinverse, the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, and Technology Academy Finland TAF. The results of the CTO Survey 2013 were published on Thursday 10.10.2013 in the CTO Forum.

Download the results of the CTO Survey 2014

Additional information

Laura Kauhanen, director, Spinverse, tel. +358 40 350 0898,
Susanna Perko, leading specialist, Sitra, tel. +358 294 618 250,
Juha Ylä-Jääski, CEO, TAF, tel. +358 40 903 0606,