Business spearheads and ecosystems in the bioeconomy – call for applications, Stage II

The bioeconomy and circular economy provide Finnish companies with the opportunity to engage in growing, international business activities. The development of new business activities in these areas is in line with Finland's bioeconomy strategy and the Government's key projects.
Application period: Mon 18.04.2016 - Fri 16.09.2016

Why the bioeconomy?

There is growing market interest in solutions that diminish the use of non-renewable and fossil raw materials, or otherwise provide product options that are more sustainable. For example, biomass-based new products and services that reduce the use of non-renewable materials and energy are providing Finnish companies with competitive potential on the markets. Practices based on the circular economy and digitalisation are linking up the bioeconomy with various other sectors, and bringing business areas together.

The bioeconomy is one of Finland's strengths: competitive solutions are being built on the basis of existing know-how and multidisciplinary cooperation. The required resources and a player that can bring together networks are needed in order to build, develop and move forward with cooperation. Tekes incentivises investments aimed at stepping up cooperation and information exchange in this new business area and creating joint research and development projects and piloting opportunities.

Objective of call for applications

The forthcoming call for applications seeks business spearheads in the bioeconomy and circular economy that have major international market potential and demand, and business ecosystems, formed by various actors, needed for the development of these spearheads; these ecosystems must form a cross-sectoral group that is critical for the achievement of these goals. The project will involve the funding of a company, association or foundation which networks operators around the selected business spearheads and drives the ecosystem towards achieving its common goal. Public organisations cannot apply for this funding, which is intended for ecosystem developers, but can be significant players in the ecosystem itself. To achieve the goal in question, companies, research institutes and other actors involved in the ecosystem will implement their own and joint R&D projects, and promote the creation of a supportive business environment. If needed, funding can be sought – e.g. via calls for applications by Team Finland actors – for research, development, growth, export and piloting projects promoting the development of an ecosystem. Other Team Finland services, promoting the market entry of business solutions, are also available.

An application round for Stage I, the preparation stage, was organised at the beginning of 2016, involving the design of a roadmap and the creation of an ecosystem promoting the development of business spearheads. This call for applications is related to Stage II, i.e the development of an ecosystem and implementation of a roadmap.

  • News on the ecosystems under preparation

For what is the funding intended and how much is available?

Stage II: Promotion of business spearhead and development of ecosystem

The goal of Stage II is to develop ecosystem activities and drive the identified business spearheads towards their goals in line with the related roadmap. With Stage II funding, ecosystem developers can e.g. strengthen networks and information exchange within ecosystems, step up the level of international cooperation, make activities more transparent and develop their impact and continuity in order to expedite development leading to international exports. The ecosystem developer will activate the network, in order to build joint research, innovation, pilot and demo projects and activities on a broader basis, including internationally. Extensive use can be made of Team Finland funding and services in order to fulfil these needs.

Although Stage I financing is not a precondition for Stage II, Stage II applications must set out the business spearhead, the action plan and roadmap required for its implementation, and the necessary ecosystem. The probable scope of Stage II of the project is 1-3 person-years/year. The final end date of the project is 30 June 2018. Public funding can account for a maximum of 50% of the eligible, overall costs of Stage II.

The application period will end on Friday 16 September 2016

For whom?

Funding for ecosystem development can be granted to organisations governed by private law – such as limited liability companies, associations and foundations – operating in Finland.

What are the hallmarks of a good business spearhead, ecosystem and roadmap?

1. Global market potential of business spearhead, and the required ecosystem

  • What is the global market potential of and need for the business spearhead or spearheads proposed for the ecosystem?
  • What is the business spearhead's relevance to Finnish know-how and the strategic needs of Finnish businesses?
  • What kind of ecosystem is required for the realisation of the business spearheads?
  • Are the core actors in the ecosystem committed to the development of the business spearhead and how can the other required actors be brought on board?

2. Ecosystem developer and resources

  • What are the incentives and position of the ecosystem developer with respect to promoting the network's international development and the market entry of the related solutions?
  • How is the operation resourced and organised, including overall funding?

3. Long-term development of the ecosystem

  • Describe the operation's resources (including total funding) and how the activities are organised?
  • Describe the operational model of the ecosystem and the plan for its long-term development, including after public funding has ended?

4. Roadmap for the realisation of the business spearhead and ecosystem development

  • Describe the various aspects of the business spearhead's development, the required actions and the parties involved in these areas?
  • Are the companies which are crucial to the realisation of the business spearhead and the ecosystem's development committed to the goals?
  • How should the group of actors within the ecosystem be developed in order to achieve these goals, and what action is required?
  • How, in practice, can the business solutions be piloted and trialled alongside the customer sectors?
  • Which concrete measures should be carried out first (e.g. joint projects)? The roadmap must include a plan for the first research, development, pilot and demo projects required, as well as other measures and the implementers and resourcing of the projects.

If necessary, the plans may include several alternative options for fulfilling the market potential of the business spearhead.

Progress made towards the market entry of the ecosystem's business spearhead will be monitored through two interim reports during the project. The final end date of projects funded via this call for applications is 30 June 2018. However, Tekes may continue the funding on the basis of new applications after this date. The above-mentioned end date does not apply to the development projects of actors within the ecosystem, but only to the ecosystem coordination and activation projects in question. The developer of the ecosystem must present clear indicators measuring progress made at the interim report points on the roadmap, which are based on the predefined starting and target values and include at least the following:

  • the creation of new business activities
  • the implementation of pilots and demonstrations
  • the creation of joint projects between ecosystem actors
  • other R&D funding and investments mobilised
  • network development, such as international partnerships, SME participation in joint projects and pilots, and the development of a long-term operational model

An action plan for the implementation of the roadmap, a plan for indicators and the monitoring of progress, a pictorial representation of the roadmap, as well as indications of interest by key SMEs in implementing a business spearhead and developing an ecosystem (including SMEs) must be attached to the application.

Progress towards market entry – what can Stage II funding be used for?

Funding can be granted for the following activities performed by the ecosystem developer:

  1. promotion of ecosystem activities in order to facilitate cooperation, exchange of information and the use of specialised or tailored business support (e.g. Team Finland) services;
  2. marketing of the ecosystem in order to promote the participation and improve the visibility of new businesses or organisations, particularly at international level;
  3. management of the ecosystem infrastructure; organisation of training programmes, workshops and conferences in order to support the sharing and networking of expertise and to foster transnational cooperation.

Funding can only be awarded for activity areas related to stepping up innovation within the ecosystem.

Eligible costs can be incurred by the following activities:

  1. HR costs (of people participating directly in developing the above-described ecosystem, and those supporting them),
  2. administrative costs, incl. costs associated with consultancy and the equivalent services, when used exclusively for the development of the above-described ecosystem,
  3. overheads arising directly from the above-described ecosystem development activities

What should I do next? Submitting applications

We will be delighted to discuss the projects you intend to include in your application in good time before the application deadline. Please send your full application to Tekes, via its online service, by 16 September 2016.

Please attach the following to your application:

  1. A roadmap and a plan for its implementation, which takes into account the aforementioned evaluation criteria.
  2. Monitoring indicators for the implementation of the roadmap and a schedule for their follow-up
  3. The roadmap presented as a diagram
  4. A declaration of participation by the key companies (including SMEs) in the implementation of the business spearhead and the development of the related ecosystem (rtf)

Select "BioNets" from the menu item "Is the application related to a Tekes programme or theme?" located in the basic information section of the application form.

Applications will be treated confidentially by the Team Finland organisations which, in addition to Tekes, include representatives of Finpro, Finnvera, the Academy of Finland and Sitra, as well as ministerial representation where appropriate. By submitting an application, the applicant accepts that it will be handled by a team assembled from Team Finland.

For further information, please contact

Our email addresses are in the form

Programme Manager Tuula Savola
new bioproducts, energy industry
Tel: +358 2950 55667

Senior Adviser Erja Ämmälahti
forest and chemical industries, biomass
Tel: +358 2950 55422

Senior Adviser Heikki Aro
agrotechnology and food products, biomass
Tel: +358 2950 36150

Executive Director, Teija Lahti-Nuuttila
ecosystem development
Tel: +358 2950 55873

Director Kimmo Kanto
ecosystem development
Tel: +358 2950 55852

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