Beyond Expectations

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Beyond Expectations

December 04, 2013 - 15:54

Teresa Presas, CEPI Director General

By Teresa Presas, Director General, CEPI 

Some believe in miracles, but good results are more often the outcome of effort and hard work. Breakthroughs that revolutionise an industry do not happen overnight and cannot be realised within a year. Someone needs to kick off the process. After embracing the CEPI 2050 Roadmap and its vision, the European paper industry decided to take its future in its own hands, and identify the breakthrough concepts needed to deliver the Roadmap’s targets. Some said open innovation at sector level could not be done. We believe they were wrong.

Like many others, our industry is in hardship. The deep economic crisis in Europe has led to closures and job losses. Europe’s prospects are for limited growth and a stable population. Our global competitors face very different circumstances. While we share the same technology basis and face similar changing consumer behaviour, constraints around the world are very different.

CEPI works to boost our sector’s competitiveness. The Two Team Project is part of this effort. It will not bring an off-the-shelf solution to reduce energy costs today. Neither does it propose readymade technology abatement curves that policymakers can simply enforce. Instead, it looks to the future, aiming to forecast the best technologies for 2030. We need breakthroughs that change the way we operate, reduce costs, revolutionize technology, add value and lower our energy consumption and carbon emissions. This means stepping beyond today’s expectations and standards.

The result of the teams’ work is a set of comprehensive concepts for the future. They constitute a combination of real solutions for the medium term, with a clear view on short-term steps, towards innovative solutions for a mature sector.

The concepts are a mixture of innovations from our own sector and those from other sectors adapted to the pulp and paper industry. There are many surprises.

While one team would have brought you a report, the two team format created competition, motivation, excitement and fun. The project delivered beyond expectations, with excellent results achieved thanks to teamwork. The involvement in each team of outsiders, suppliers and scientists together with paper industry insiders stimulated novel discussions and solutions. Although the two teams were competing, the result is a win for the sector as a whole.

Although many ideas have surfaced since the shoe press introduction 20 years ago, they never took off, for all kinds of reasons. The Two Team Project went as far as any industry sector could go in organising an open innovation process and providing pre-competitive leads. It is up to the companies to take the next step and develop the concepts. This will need new forms of cooperation, and the support of European and national policy makers. The right conditions must be put in place to enable research, pilot, demonstration and investments.