PoDoCo doctors help companies move towards circular economy
PoDoCo program is funded by 11 foundations thus offering even small companies the opportunity for renewal. Cooperation projects have been used to help reduce waste generated in industry and for developing recycling methods.
The PoDoCo program has already funded 151 collaborative projects between companies and PhDs for creating new business opportunities. Many projects aim to reduce environmental impact.
“In ongoing PoDoCo projects, companies are developing new sustainable energy solutions for industry. The projects are looking for solutions to utilize industrial by-products, as well as efficient energy production and storage methods”, says Dr. Seppo Tikkanen, the leader of the PoDoCo program.
More efficient energy production, the use of by-products and the reduction or reuse of waste create ways to create new business opportunities.
The production of cement causes significant carbon dioxide emissions. In an ongoing project Keko geopolymeerit -company is looking for ways to replace the use of cement in concrete production and use industrial waste as a substitute for cement.
The mining industry is one of the most water-intensive industries. In Metso Outotec’s project, minimizing water use in the metal enrichment process reduces environmental impact.
Bio-based carbon fibers for the flywheel
Meri Lundahl, Ph.D., was already permanently hired in Teraloop after a year of PoDoCo, and was recently appointed Chief Sustainability Officer. Teraloop is developing a flywheel in which rotating motion stores energy efficiently. It solves a wide range of solar and wind energy storage problems. (Read Meri Lundahl’s project story!)
Lundahl joined Teraloop through PoDoCo program in order to develop bio-based carbon fibers for the flywheel that could be used as fossil-free raw materials. The company has also benefited from her studies on the life cycle effects of the flywheel.
With the help of Lundahl’s expertise, the company expanded its expertise to materials technology and the successful cooperation is leading to the formation of a whole team. Lundahl’s job will involve more administration in the future, so the company’s new PoDoCo doctor Ling Wang will accompany her on research work.
Teraloop has been pleased with the PoDoCo program, as it makes it easy for even a smaller company to gain access to high-quality know-how.
“PoDoCo is good for a company, when you want to explore something new that is too big of a risk to hire somebody from the beginning, especially when you are an SME with very limited resources. PoDoCo helps even small players get access to the expertise of fresh doctors and thus get more scientific projects started”, says CEO Ted Ridgway Watt from Teraloop.
Grants worth of one million
Program leader Seppo Tikkanen says that the PoDoCo program has funded a great deal of projects for small and medium-sized enterprises. Scholarships have been awarded to all disciplines. Engineering and natural sciences have been the most represented, but companies have also sought out experts in the social sciences and humanities to reform their operations.
Grants worth around one million will be distributed throughout the PoDoCo program in 2020. The funding round takes place twice a year.
“It will be interesting to see how covid-19 affects the number of applications. In the spring round we received as many applications as before. PoDoCo gives companies a good opportunity to receive support for renewal even during these uncertain times”, says Tikkanen.
The next PoDoCo grant application round takes place September 15 – October 31, 2020.
There are no limitations regarding the branch of science or branch of industry.
PoDoCo program is funded by Finnish Cultural Foundation, Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, Maa- ja vesitekniikan tuki ry, Svenska Kulturfonden, The Society of Swedish Literature in Finland (SLS), Finnish Foundation for Technology Promotion, Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation, Foundation for Economic Education, KAUTE Foundation, The Paulo Foundation and Helsingin Sanomat Foundation. The total funding is up to million euros every year, which enables around 35 PoDoCo grants each year.