Imagine we are in a railway yard. Our mission is to get things moving in the right direction. We have the power and resources to start operating one of the locomotives on the railway. The locomotive starts to push to the right direction, building the path for others to come. Then we start to attach carriages, one by one, to follow the locomotive. Together they form a train - and new carriages will join when the journey continues. At the same time, we see other locomotives start moving as well and build their own fleets of carriages.
Last year, Neste launched a new research project which aims at developing sustainable and globally scalable raw materials and technology solutions for transportation fuels and the production of chemicals and polymers. This project is our “Veturi”, which translates to “Locomotive”, and it’s part of the framework of large Finnish companies increasing their research, development and innovation activities, co-funded by Business Finland. In addition to ours, the other Veturi projects are led by Nokia, ABB, KONE, Sandvik and a joint project by Fortum and Metsä Group.
Renewable and circular solutions to tackle climate crisis
The global emission reduction challenge is enormous and we need all solutions to tackle it. Neste aims to develop scalable renewable and recycled raw materials and the related processing technologies needed for future solutions to decrease the use of crude oil. The new technologies will be based on raw materials that have been difficult to utilize so far, such as forestry or agricultural residues, municipal waste, algae, waste plastics, novel vegetable oils, CO2 and Power-to-X. The commercialization of these new raw materials requires long-term research and development of novel value chains with partners.
Finding new solutions is all about collaboration: we can’t be driving the locomotive only by ourselves, but together with others we can build a full train with multiple carriages. That is exactly the purpose of the Veturi framework - to build an ecosystem around our Veturi project. Veturi is one of our tools for the future: we focus on researching the areas where commercial technologies are not yet available. In Neste’s Veturi ecosystem there are already five R&D projects ongoing after the first year. We work closely with companies, research institutes and universities and will continue to build new partnerships, throughout the five year period of the Veturi framework.
Building a talent pool for future
Neste sees Veturi as an excellent opportunity to leverage our RDI efforts: to encourage and facilitate other players to strive for solving the same problems and finding solutions with us. Our Veturi is another step in strengthening Finnish strategic research cooperation and continuing building on the development of a wider competence pool of companies, universities, start-ups and other organizations in Finland in the area of renewable and circular solutions for fuels and chemicals. To match the future needs, we and our partners need highly educated people as well as talent and know-how in these new areas.
At best the Veturi framework can lead to new startups and businesses in Finland, increase the competitiveness of Finnish universities and research institutes as well as raise the attractiveness of Finland for new talents and international companies. As part of the framework, Neste is committed to increasing our R&D expenditure in Finland, and we see our project portfolio truly attractive to future talents.
From a national perspective it is also crucial that we create concrete tools to meet Finland’s climate targets and Neste has a significant role in advancing their development. We are committed to reach carbon neutral production by 2035 and to help our customers reduce their climate emissions by 20 million tons by 2030.
Continuously looking for more partners to develop sustainable solutions
We want to address companies, big and small, as well as research organizations: take part in the Veturi ecosystem and join us! Neste has strong climate ambition, track record and capabilities to implement large scale projects and this framework is a great way for other players with the same mission to benefit from all that. The Veturi framework also provides an opportunity to get R&D support for Finnish organizations from Business Finland.
We want to multiply the impact around us and build the know-how and capabilities within the wider ecosystem. The commercialization of the products made of these new raw materials still requires research and the development of new value chains together with partners who are equally committed to developing globally scalable sustainable solutions. Also smaller players, such as startups, can profit from the funding framework, and get to collaborate together with large corporations and research organisations.
By joining forces we can achieve so much more. It all comes to synergy: the full potential of 1+1 being > 2 when the players collaborate for the same ambition. We warmly welcome more new partners to this joint journey! Please reach out to us at Neste and let’s discuss further.
Currently, Neste works with the following projects in the Veturi ecosystem:
- E-fuel, a co-innovation project coordinated by VTT, brings together 15 partners to engage in R&D cooperation with the long-term goal of large-scale production and commercialization of e-fuels.
- Sugar Catalyst, a research project coordinated by the University of Helsinki with the participation of Aalto University and the University of Eastern Finland together with five industrial partners aiming to demonstrate processing sugar-containing forest industry byproducts into value-added raw materials for the food, cosmetic, pharmaceutical, chemical and polymer industries, to be used for example in coating, adhesives and food preservatives.
- CaSH (Catalytic Slurry Hydrotreatment), a 10-partner research project coordinated by VTT concentrating upgrading low quality feedstock, like lignocellulosics, into fuels.
- SynBioPro, a research project coordinated by VTT involving Tampere University and five industrial partners, with the aim to develop efficient pathways via synthetic biology for the production of renewable building blocks, acrylic and adipic acids, from lignocellulosic residues for uses in bio-based plastics.
- Carbon Neutrality Empowered by Handprint, a research project carried out by VTT and LUT University is developing the framework to reliably and credibly show their climate neutrality and the positive environmental impacts of circular solutions.