We were joined by Sakari Ermala, CEO of Verte ltd who gave a presentation on ECO3, an innovative, industrial-scale, multidisciplinary bio- and circular economy business park, operating out of Kolmenkulma Eco-Industrial Park in Tampere, Finland.
Tampere is the third largest city in Finland, and the centre of Tampere region, the second largest urban area in Finland with a population of 512,000. Nokia is part of the Tampere region with a population of 35,000 people in Nokia city. It is very industrial and dubbed a mini Manchester.
Tampere is currently the most popular city to live in Finland. Tampere Regional Waste Management was formed owned by 17 municipalities to handle their solid waste and is considered to be the best in waste management in Finland with 99% of waste recovered to raw material or energy. It also has the lowest waste management fees and no taxes are required for investments.
Tampere Regional Waste Management, which is a partner in the ECO3 concept, handles collection, processing and disposal of waste, operates R&D facilities and offers consumer advice on waste management issues. Their main target is to reduce waste, improve waste recovery and take care of a safe final disposal. Overall, they cooperate daily with 15,000 enterprises.
ECO3 is owned by the city of Nokia and being developed by Verte with the aim to develop businesses and innovations based on bio and circular economy and bring them to industrial level. Sites are rented to companies on an industrial scale, as they have found this to be more effective. The area is reserved for circular economy needs.
The ECO3 concept was a National winner for European Business Awards in 2019 and aims to be the leading concept in business parks by 2025.
The project covers an area of 120 hectares and so far has attracted investments totalling €70M. The investment potential is €200M. ECO3 cooperates with 38 partners which includes companies, universities and research institutions. It also houses and encourages piloting of new products and technologies that are based on circular economy.
Being owned by the city of Nokia, the concept of ECO3 follows the environmental policies of the city. Activities include coordination, partnership matchmaking and creating market dialogues between the private and public sector. They also cooperate with other countries, some of which are the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Poland.
The accelerator programme in the park aims for startups to be competitive on a national and international level. They currently have four startups solving circular economy issues and the hope is that they will act in the area.
Furthermore, ECO3 offers services to their owners and companies and can cooperate with the public sector from other countries in the EU.
ECO3 works towards creating public and private companies so they share added value, doing business in a manner where all work as interconnected parts of a circular economy chain. Even the citizens of Nokia city are part of this chain as they participate through sorting their waste and recycling. When citizens know how their waste is being used, it gives meaning to their sorting and recycling efforts.
The core belief behind ECO3 is that without a complete circular concept, single solutions or technologies will not bring the change we hope. The concept behind ECO3 is an open platform for business that allows delivery of highly technical solutions while creating opportunities for new business and added value to cities.
The Circular Based Waste Management project is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation – eeagrants.org.