Innovation, research and development in the forest-based industries
Increased investments in research and technology development (RTD) and innovative use of technical and commercial know-how are necessary elements for enhancing the competitiveness of the forest-based industries.
Sustainability, product development, resource availability, multiple forest use, biodiversity, the production of bio-energy and energy efficiency are key issues in the sector.
The pulp, paper and wood industries have gained from technical developments in the chemical industry. A similar synergy also exists within the machinery and pulp and paper industries. Such advantageous cluster relationships should remain. For the printing sector, where competition from new media is transforming the industry, innovation, research and development are key elements for competitiveness. In a sector with a predominant SME fabric, innovation is mainly stimulated by suppliers covering the global market.
Forest-based industries could benefit from cluster approaches which facilitate close cooperation between businesses, research communities and end users, offering a platform to overcome resource limitations due to the fragmented structure of industry and contributing to improving SME innovation and potential for growth. The potential for growth and jobs in these industries provides particular opportunities for the development of underprivileged, rural and peripheral regions in the EU where many related specialised skills are often concentrated.
The Forest-based Sector Technology Platform (FTP) is an important tool for coordinating research carried out by industry, the European Commission and the Member States, and should play a significant role in strengthening the sector's innovative capacity.