Kainuu region has a background in measurement technology since 1991. The metrology research took another step forward when the Laboratory of Biotechnology was founded in 1996 in Sotkamo. It focused on analyzing, measuring and valorizing the potential of dairy ingredients. In addition to bovine milk, the laboratory researched the properties of reindeer milk, which resulted in an enriched product that prepared for use in cosmetics. Both laboratories were consolidated into the CEMIS scheme in 2010.
CEMIS (Centre of Measurement and Information Systems) is Kainuu’s joint-technology centre with a national reference. Oulu University’s measurement unit, MITY, formerly known as CEMIS-Oulu, with 40 workers, shares knowledge back and forth with Kainuu’s berry industry that focuses on nutritional, health and cosmetic objectives. The needs are addressed proactively from the business’ side in business-to-research cases. Besides, research-to-business opportunities are valorised proactively by both the researchers and the larger industries with R&D competences and established markets. One example of this knowledge transfer is the continuous berry analysis, used to identify new ingredients, as well as, to find new qualities of known ingredients that could be applied to improve products or to develop new products. In addition, the processing methods are developed and tested to create new and active berry- and plant-based concentrates for industrial applications. The crucial aspect of the knowledge transfer is the interdisciplinary competences of the actors: both the staff in MITY and the businesses have a level of interdisciplinary competences that allow the appreciation of research potential applications in their respective industries.
Pekka Kilpeläinen, of the University of Oulu explains:”a couple of years ago MITY participated in a BIOHIVA project that was funded by the European Social Fund. The project studied 15 different plant materials, some suggested by the companies and others by researchers, with the aim of finding new product opportunities. As a result, one of the product ideas has gone for further development and other one is currently actively developed by MITY. The project included partners from the entire production chain; from farmers (including a nettle farm) to refining companies to marketing companies that represented both small national companies and global enterprises”.
MITY also worked with a Finnish cosmetics company, Lumene, to develop a method to prepare lingonberry concentrate for use in cosmetics. It is currently being used in a Time-Freezer product family that is exported worldwide. The preparation method was later patented by Lumene and includes four of MITY researchers as co-authors. At the moment, MITY is preparing to commercialize a lingonberry product with enriched bioactive substances for the food industry in which international companies asked about.
There is a need to develop and further increase the R&D base in the Kainuu region. As also a need to increase the regional potential in order to valorize R&D. This could be done by expanding the productive base in a way that the crucial role of such organisations can achieve potential as a contributor to the regional industrial modernization.
According to Jouni Ponnikas, of the Regional Council of Kainuu -one of the strongest regional orchestrators of the MITY “One of the main founder of MITY is Regional Council of Kainuu (RCK). MITY is a crucial partner to support expertise of measurement in the Kainuu region. It is currently one of the most important parts of university activities in Kainuu. Regional Council has funded MITY operations, because RCK sees MITY as a crucial implementing body of Kainuu RIS3. In the fields of RIS3 Kainuu has high expertise and potential for future development and growth. A priority of a smart specialization in Kainuu is measuring technology, environment monitoring and innovations of food and in forest bio economy. RCK and regional strategy of Kainuu see lot of potential in forest bio economy. It is crucial for region to get new innovations and increase volume and added value of industrial production in Kainuu. RDI activities MITY has done in the field of berry industries and berry RDI activities, are good examples how MITY can create new know how and added value for Kainuu industrial production. That’s the main reason why RCK has started as a part of BRIDGES project implementation a process to berry RIS3 platform under the Agrifood thematic platform. MITY will be a crucial partner in the berry RIS3 platform and RCK will support and foster its cooperation with growth-driver companies operating in Kainuu (like ST1 in forest bio economy, biofuels or Kiantama ltd. in forest bio economy, berry industry). Via supporting this cooperation RCK like to foster forest bio economy business ecosystems in Kainuu. Business ecosystems maximize the added value of forest bio economy for Kainuu region.”