The University of Helsinki and Metsä Group join in a partnership to create solutions for the sustainable utilisation of renewable natural resources

The University of Helsinki and Metsä Group have concluded a partnership agreement, under which the parties will advance their research and education collaboration as well as solve global sustainability challenges.

The multidisciplinary partnership has been concluded for a five-year term.

“Together with Metsä Group, we want to create new knowledge, strengthen our expertise and train future experts who support our society's ability to solve sustainability challenges,” says Rector Sari Lindblom of the University of Helsinki, describing the partnership.

Concluding the partnership agreement is part of the University’s new strategic plan, which states that the University wishes to be a leader in responsibility and sustainability, as well as promote business collaboration and innovation.

“In this, long-term partnerships with businesses are a good tool,” Rector Lindblom adds.

The agreement is aimed at ensuring the employment and career advancement opportunities of future professionals, as well as developing their skills. Another goal is to solve challenges posed by technology and sustainable development. The agreement promotes sustainable commercial forestry by producing new research-based knowledge and putting it into practice.

Instead of conducting individual scattered projects, the partnership seeks to together look into the future and set shared goals that emphasise the longer term.

“We want to work together to develop solutions for the sustainable use of renewable resources. In the spirit of continuous learning, we will strengthen our skills and abilities and better integrate students into our cooperation,” states Ilkka Hämälä, president and CEO of Metsä Group.

Research, education and continuous learning – together

The agreement is built on cooperation in terms of research, teaching and training as well as on continuous learning. Specific research themes include methods and techniques of sustainable forestry, forest resource management, timber harvesting, fibre-based materials (including food packaging), ionic liquids and circular chemistry.

“This partnership agreement is a natural continuation of our solid research collaboration related to the application of modern chemistry in biomass processing. A good example of this is using ionic solvents to dissolve cellulose, and its further processing into, say, textile fibres,” says Ilkka Kilpeläinen, professor of organic chemistry from the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science.

The cooperation is oriented heavily to students, with the goal of establishing a clear path from bachelor’s studies to the labour market for students within the sphere of the partnership. Their career paths include project-based assignments completed during studies, traineeships and summer jobs, a master’s thesis and potential employment by Metsä Group. Another goal is to lower the threshold for hiring international students in particular. Students get the chance to go on company visits to Metsä Group, while guest lecturers will visit their courses.

“The reduction of food waste, novel packaging materials and the development of responsible food packages are multidimensional challenges that require long-term cooperation. It’s very rewarding for both researchers and students to contribute to developing solutions which may some day become part of our everyday lives,” says University Lecturer Hanna Koivula from the Department of Food and Nutrition, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry.

For Metsä Group, the partnership offers new opportunities in providing continuing education and on-the-job learning for its staff.

Further information:

  • Kirsti Lehmusto, director of partnerships, University of Helsinki,, phone: +358 29412 3225
  • Anne Toppinen, director of HELSUS, Helsinki In­sti­tute of Sustainability Science,, phone: +358 29415 7966
  • Pertti Hietaniemi, senior vice-president for human resources, Metsä Group, phone: +358 10 463 3772