Fostering Sustainable Innovation: Collaborative Efforts in Circular Bioeconomy

In today’s rapidly evolving world, the need for sustainable solutions has never been more pressing. Promoting circular bioeconomy and the circulation of materials, nutrients, and energy flows in the urban environment is at the heart of the CITISYSTEM – Supporting cities in sustainable biobased systemic change project (Interreg Europe 2023).

Link to the website of CITISYSTEM.

During the CITISYSTEM thematic webinar 2, Ms Tuukkanen presented Circular Pirkanmaa (Kiertotalous Pirkanmaa), its activities, and cases. The regional centre was developed in 2023, targeted to municipalities and companies, including municipal-owned companies. The aim of the initiative was to put together the local players to achieve a sustainable circular economy transition. (Tuukkanen 2024.) The centre is operated by Ecofellows, an eco-partnership under the Tampere City group, providing sustainable development services (Ecofellows 2024).

By identifying valuable waste streams and promoting industrial symbiosis, Circular Pirkanmaa endeavours to maximize resource efficiency and minimize waste. With a focus on systemic transformation, they seek to shift the operating environment away from a linear economy model towards a circular one. The centre emphasizes the economic aspect of circular economy transitions. Efforts should focus on enabling businesses to operate according to circular principles while ensuring economic viability. The development of tangible tools and methodologies to facilitate this transition, including material flow analysis and partnership dialogues between cities and companies are vital. As a facilitator, the centre also assists in securing the necessary funding for joint circular innovations, for instance, from the European Investment Bank. (Tuukkanen 2024.)

Industrial Symbiosis in Nokia

The Nokia’s ECO3 business area and multidisciplinary concept is a benchmark example of successful collaboration between the public and private sectors in driving circular initiatives (Tuukkanen 2024). The ECO3 park of 120 ha presents a unique concept of bio and circular economy businesses and innovations on an industrial scale. Altogether 40 organizations have triggered investments of €80 million, with another €200 million in investment potential. The ECO3 park serves as a demonstration and pilot space, developed by the City of Nokia and Verte Ltd. (Nokia’s development company) in collaboration with public and private sectors. (ECO3 2022.) The industrial symbiosis cover bio-, water- and circular economies, nutrients cycle, biomass terminal and biofuel products, renewable energy production, and technology of the wood- and forest-based businesses (ECO3 2022; Tuukkanen 2024).

A drawing of industrial symbiosis map in the City of Nokia. The city is located at the centre of the image, with many specific plants showed in blue rectangles around it. Black arrows symbolizing the material or energy flows from one or more plants to another one accompanied with name of the commodity or material. 
Picture 1. A diagram of the ECO3 concept of bioeconomy and circular economy in the City of Nokia. (ECO3 2022)

In summary, the presentation emphasized the need for collective actions and strategic interventions to drive the transition towards a circular economy. Key points included the importance of stakeholder engagement, addressing economic aspects, and utilizing tangible tools for effective implementation. Public entities, including municipalities, have a significant role in enabling circular economy transitions and fostering collaborations between public and private sectors.


Katerina Medkova works as an RDI Specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences and is CITISYSTEM Project Manager.


Ecofellows. 2024. Cited 3 Mar 2024. Available at

ECO3. 2022. A diagram of the ECO3 concept. Cited 3 Mar 2024. Available at

ECO3. 2022. ECO3 – A bio and circular economy pioneer. Cited 3 Mar 2024. Available at

Tuukkanen, K. 2024. The role of cities and municipalities in driving for biobased circular solutions. Presentation given at the CITISYSTEM Thematic Webinar 2 on 21 Jan 2024, online.

Interreg Europe. 2023. CITISYSTEM – Supporting cities in sustainable biobased systemic change. Cited 3 Mar 2024. Available at


Link 1. Interreg Europe. 2023. Project Summary. CITISYSTEM. Cited 2 Mar 2024. Available at