The Group conducts research and development (R&D) both in-house at business area level and externally.
Internal R&D is focused on functional products and energy and resource-efficient processes. This has led to a steady decline in specific use of raw materials and energy, while the characteristics of the products have been refined.
Holmen has for some years had a process in place for developing ideas that have the potential to create new business outside the established core operations.
In order to reinforce work on business development for new products, Holmen has instituted the Holmen New Business Development (NBD) unit to focus on this area. The business areas are responsible for development within their own core operations. NBD builds up new knowledge, identifying and initiating future business opportunities based on sustainability-driven research, innovation and product development. The general aim is for wood-based alternatives to replace many traditional products in the long term in areas such as fuel, textiles and construction materials.
The external R&D activities are jointly run with other players, often at an industry-wide level and in collaboration with universities, institutes of technology and research institutions. The main emphasis is on product development and enhancing process efficiency, although forest growth and improving the efficiency of forestry are also important focal areas.
Collaboration is under way with partners including Svenska Innventia, MoRe Research, SweTree Technologies, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Chalmers University of Technology, Luleå University of Technology, Umeå University, Mid Sweden University, Karlstad University, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Skogforsk. In Norway, Holmen collaborates with the Paper and Fibre Research Institute and in the UK with the University of Manchester. Initiated a few years ago, a collaboration is ongoing with a university in Israel, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
One example of such a collaboration is the establishment of a pilot plant for crystalline nanocellulose in Örnsköldsvik. The plant will be the first of its kind in Europe. The material has many interesting properties and can be used for construction materials, biocomposites and printed electronics. Operations at the plant are based on the technology of the Israeli startup company Melodea, with Holmen discharging its role both as a catalyst for getting the plant built and as a shareholder in Melodea.