These natural resources formed the bedrock for Sweden’s industrialization. And they remain important today. But times are changing. Digitalization is eroding demand for paper and new technology is driving innovative applications for traditional metals and high-tech metals. Sweden hosts mineral deposits like graphite, lithium, rare earth metals.
The shift towards sustainable development and renewable materials is transforming the forest industry from a bulk orientation to high value added biobased materials. Innovative companies are using Swedish wood to develop new bio-based materials such as barrier films, chemicals, carbon fibre and other applications with industry-changing potential.
Sweden, standing wood volume continues to increase year-on-year, providing a nursery for new research-based innovations that will shape the 21st century bioeconomy. The beauty of forest compounds is that they come from a self-renewing, sustainable source.
Sweden is the place to be for companies seeking access to advanced biomaterials research. A unique knowledge pool exists in paper, board, packaging and chemical applications. Swedish research institutes and businesses are open to collaboration with foreign companies in this area. Opportunities also exist to acquire or work with start-ups in the bioenergy and biochemical fields.
Rare earth metals and graphene
Alongside its rich forests, Sweden has large deposits of multiple minerals and rare earth metals that are critical to the manufacture of many hi-tech products. Some of them – including yttrium, terbium and cerium – were even discovered in Sweden. Sweden welcomes foreign companies wishing to explore the Swedish mineral base in the quest for new important deposits.
Sweden is probably the top nation worldwide for research and applied research into graphene and it is creating a lot of buzz internationally. Made from sheets of carbon just one atom thick, graphene is the thinnest compound known to man yet is stronger than steel and a supreme conductor of heat and electricity. In electronics, the impact of this exceptional material is tipped to exceed that of silicon. The Graphene Flagship, based at Chalmers University of Technology Gothenburg, is the EU’s largest ever research venture, and connects more than 60 institutions and industrial groups from 17 European countries.
Source: SCB, GSU, Skogsindustrierna