Looking back at the 3rd Progress Report Meeting

More than 100 participants took part in this year's programme meeting in Thun. For the first time, practitioners were invited to discuss with researchers the contribution of NRP 66 to the technological and economical development of the timber industry in Switzerland.

From 16 to 17 April 2015, researchers, members of the Steering Committee of NRP 66 and invited guests from administration, industry and professional associations met in Thun to discuss the ongoing research and preliminary results.

Moving from research towards implementation

Martin Riediker, president of the Steering Committee, called on researchers at the beginning of the second research phase to intensify their research activities and consider the practical relevance of results as well as potential communication strategies. "Research is fine, but the journey does not stop here," he said. In his view, researchers need to engage with the enormous challenges facing the timber industry, develop marketable solutions (with help from the Commission for Technology and Innovation) and aim technology exports at the global market.

Dialogue on key topics of NRP 66

Ten research projects have already entered the final phase. They presented their results in four thematic blocks (corresponding to the four dialogue platforms of NRP 66). Each block was followed by a moderated panel discussion including invited experts from the practical realm. Participants expressed the view that it remained unclear what wood-based products could be sold on the market apart from wood for building and fuel. In addition, it is uncertain if buyers are prepared to recognise and pay for the added-value of sustainable resources. What are the low-hanging fruit for wood-based bio refineries and the development of wood-based products in this context? The use of wood as an energy source also involves certain risks: will there be sufficient biomass in the future and are the technologies reliable? In view of these reservations, it might be necessary to establish a cluster (similar to the BioEconomy Cluster in Germany) uniting various stakeholders from research, development and industry to elaborate a technological roadmap. In the building sector, it seems that investors are increasingly open-minded about building materials, as long as the quality, the functionality and the price are right. Therefore, a breakthrough for wood in this sector does not depend on new norms but rather on new demonstration sites and costing models which highlight the functionality and economic performance of buildings made from wood.

Short poster presentations

One afternoon was devoted to projects that are still in their research phase. In three successive discussion rounds, six projects were presented and discussed on the basis of posters. In addition, the two-day meeting offered ample opportunities for networking and informal discussions during coffee and lunch breaks as well as during the conference dinner.