Wood-based building sector requires focus on consumer needs and efficient networking

University of Helsinki launches a new research project focusing on consumer needs and development of innovative business networks.

University of Helsinki has started a three-year research project in order to unfold the consumer needs in relation to industrial multi-storey building in housing. The focus of the project is developing innovative and efficient models for co-opeation in the wood-based building sector.

“The study combines innovative academic research and three actual construction projects during the years 2016 - 2019”, tells Ms. Ritva Toivonen, Adjunct Professor and the Project Coordinator at the Department of Forest Sciences, University of Helsinki. The study is financed by TEKES, Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, and seven private companies.

“This study is innovative and topical. It’s findings are likely to provide new information for the national and international industrial wood-based building”, emphasises Mr. Olli Haltia, the Chair of the research project’s advisory group and CEO of Dasos Capital Ltd.

“The growing wood-based building sector represents a wide window of business opportunities for various stakeholders and investors. However, taking full advantage of the opportunity requires better understanding of the market and consumer behaviour”, continues Haltia.

“The targeted overall outcome of the study is set to facilitate the development of the business in the wood-based building sector towards new, even radical, solutions that capture and efficiently meet  the consumer needs. Another aim is to contribute towards the development of flexible and efficient networks and business partnerships, so-called business ecosystems, in the wood-based construction sector”, explains Toivonen.

“It is of particular interest to understand the process of collecting and sharing information regarding consumer needs in the business ecosystem”, she continues.

“The drivers changing consumer needs include aging, urbanisation, need for sustainable solutions and individualism. In addition, important issues include building and housing related needs, expectations and processes of municipal administrators designing the infrastructure for housing. These may considerably hinder or boost wood-based building.”

Innovative combination of practice and research

Increased innovativeness is supported by means of a research set-up that combines both an academic study as well as three real-life industrial construction projects of wooden multi-storey houses. This provides a unique opportunity to analyse the formation and operation of business ecosystems, producing the complete building project from the initial planning and design up to the interior and outdoor decoration.

The empirical study will be largely based on producing information about consumer perceptions and needs regarding sustainable housing and living, and especially for those who have actually decided to invest in an apartment in a wooden multi-storey building. The perceptions of municipal administrators are another angle of the relevant user needs to be unfolded.

Additionally, the study also seeks to establish a comparative analysis of wood-based building markets in Finland, Sweden, Austria and Canada.

The research project: Consumer focus on developing business eco-systems of industrial wood-based building sector

Research organization: University of Helsinki, Department of Forest Sciences, Partnering organization: University of Vaasa, Finland

International research partners: University of British Columbia (UBC), Linköping University, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU)

Duration: September 2016 – August 2019

Financing institutions: Tekes, BioNets –programme, University of Helsinki

Financing company partners: Dasos Capital Oy, Rakennuttajatoimisto HTJ Oy, Westas Group Oy, PUUSTA Innovations Oy, Lapwall oy, upwood design OyThermowood Association (Lämpöpuuyhdistys ry).

Contact information:

Ritva Toivonen, Adj. Professor, Research Coordinator, University of Helsinki, Department of Forest Sciences, +358-(0)40-526 8412, ritva.toivonen@helsinki.fi