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UPM's patent portfolio provides opportunities for young start-ups

Food freshness Indicator is a cost-effective and reliable label and easy to integrate directly on packaging. It indicates whether the packaged food item is fresh and safe to eat.UPM is actively developing new technologies and processes for both its current and new business areas. In accordance with our Biofore strategy, we are moving towards a carbon neutral future, where the focus of development is in material and energy efficiency, recycling and recyclability.

For the last 6 to 8 years, UPM has systematically expanded its patent portfolio by efficiently protecting its industrial property rights. We file over 300 new patent applications annually, and industrial property rights often play an important role in various project contracts and co-operative agreements. Approximately ten years ago the situation was very different, as we only filed a few patent applications each year.

Our newest innovations include the renewable diesel UPM Bioverno and the development projects for biochemicals and biocomposites. However, we need innovations and partners in all our focus areas. For mature businesses, the innovations should focus on cost savings and the development of new business models and services. For growing businesses, the focus is on developing new products and market concepts. Our new business areas face the biggest challenges for innovation and commercialisation, as application development in new markets requires new practices.

UPM actively manages the patent portfolios of its different businesses and evaluates constantly the applicability and commercial value of its patents. Not all inventions and patents are suitable for our core business areas. Business strategies change over time, and often the market potential for a newly developed technology is not big enough compared to UPM's targets and scope. For these patents and innovations, we are constantly seeking new commercialisation partners through various channels.

Today, we announced plans to commercialise a new technology called "Tuoreusvahti". UPM's licence agreement with the start-up company Indicatorium is our first commercialisation project under the Innovation Mill programme funded by the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. UPM Raflatac has developed and tested the new technology, which can be used for example to identify incorrectly stored chicken meat by the hydrogen sulphide it produces. As the market potential of this innovation didn't correspond with UPM's business scale, we decided to look for a partner to utilise the technology and business idea.

The "Tuoreusvahti" technology has proved to be functional, and it also fulfils a consumer need by helping to reduce the amount of food that goes to waste. In Finland, for example, we throw away 20 to 26 kilograms of food per person per year. The amount is equal to approximately 6 per cent of all food purchased by Finnish consumers (MTT Agrifood Research Finland 2013, "Foodspill – Ruokahävikkitutkimus").

The Innovation Mill programme offers UPM one way to commercialise its technologies in co-operation with new start-up companies. Partnerships with companies, universities and research institutes create new innovative ways to commercialise inventions and business ideas. We are always open to new partnerships.

www.upm.com

 

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