Kiviruukki to become a home for circular economy innovations
- City planning
- Participation and influencing
- City of Espoo
VTT, Omnia and the City of Espoo are joining forces on the Cleantech Garden campus to be built next to the Kivenlahti metro station to develop brand new circular economy innovations together with companies.
“On a European scale, the Kiviruukki area will become a significant research hub, promoting new green transition solutions,” says Antti Vasara, President & CEO of VTT.
“Our students will become part of the local community, which includes research and development-driven business operations,” says Tuula Antola, Director of Omnia, the Joint Authority of Education in Espoo Region.
“When the metro traffic starts on 3 December 2022, the development of the Kiviruukki area will take a new leap,” says Pasi Laitala, Director for Sustainable Development in Espoo.
Today, Kiviruukki’s external appearance remains modest. However, interesting research that is about to change the world is already being carried out in the old printing house of the verdant industrial area. This is home to VTT Bioruukki, the largest research centre for bio- and circular economy in the Nordic countries. In its test facility, a company called Infinited Fiber is just one of the companies polishing its technology. Last June, the company, which makes new textile fibre from waste clothing, announced that it is going to build a new factory costing 400 million euros in Kemi. The company has signed purchase agreements for its recycled textile fibre with clothing companies that manage brands such as H&M, Zara and Tommy Hilfiger.
This is exactly the kind of success story that the Kiviruukki innovation cluster aims for in the future. The miniature factories at VTT Bioruukki are busy exploring new ways of transferring various material flows, such as mining waste, household plastic waste, or cellulose, into new valuable products.
“The idea is that at Bioruukki, you can test your technology in pilot environment,” Vasara says.
Once it works, you can scale the competence to actual factory production, turning it into business that conserves natural resources. One of the companies planning to take this leap from under the wings of Bioruukki is spinoff company Olefy, whose technology allows even poor-quality recycled plastic to be transferred into top-quality new plastic material.
“This could very well be the next project that rises to global awareness,” Vasara says.
VTT acts as the driving force
Bioruukki, founded by VTT in 2015, inspired the City of Espoo to replan the entire Kiviruukki area. The current industrial area will become home to some 10,000 residents and close to 3,000 jobs. The heart of the area is the Cleantech Garden campus, rising next to the new Kivenlahti metro station. Omnia teaching facilities, offices and shared premises are being planned for this bio- and circular economy innovation centre, as well as various services for the future residents of the area. The restaurant and service area Garden is located at the heart of the campus block. Along the future underpass, the walking distance from the campus, located on the north side of Länsiväylä, to the metro station entrance is only 150 metres.
The campus is designed to accommodate approximately 2,000 students. The plans to include vocation education in the area are also welcomed by the VTT pilot factories.
“In order to come up with new solutions, we need not just academic expertise, but also top-notch vocational competence,” Antti Vasara says.
The city district rising around Cleantech Garden, with its 10,000 new residents, also provides an opportunity to test new circular economy innovations in real life. Although construction in the area has not yet started, the City of Espoo, Omnia and VTT are already planning various pilots for the new campus area. In the future, the campus may boast, among other things, its own food production in smart gardens developed by Omnia, where plants grow without any soil. A resource wise and carbon neutral operating model is also currently being developed for restaurants and other food services in the area.
Kiviruukki to become the next Otaniemi
It is easy to understand why VTT, Omnia and Espoo are so interested in Kiviruukki. The demand for new environmentally friendly technologies is soaring around the world. Kiviruukki is built to become a showcase for carbon-neutral energy and circular economy as well as sustainable food system of the future.
“This way of doing things is typical of Espoo: we bring together world-class research, education, municipal services as well as large and small companies,” says Tuula Antola.
“Getting around will be easy with the metro connecting the campus areas of Otaniemi and Kiviruukki,” says Pasi Laitala.
As we approach the 2030s, the plan is for Kiviruukki and its central block Cleantech Garden to become a cluster of expertise as well-known as Otaniemi, where clean technology start-ups gain momentum for growth. The new campus area is also an asset in the competition for the best workforce.
“Clusters such as this one help us attract the best talent to Espoo,” Antti Vasara says.
Mari PäätaloDevelopment Manager+358 40 firstname.lastname@example.org
Riikka KoskenrantaSpecialist, Circular Economy+358 40 email@example.com
- Innovation work
- Urban development