Production will be increased fivefold, emissions dropped to a third. I kept repeating this fact, but nobody believed me, Eeva Punta reminisces on the Enocell pulp mill project at the turn of the 1990s. Punta had a point. Years later, her colleagues at Stora Enso looked serious, when ecotoxicologist Eeva Punta announced that she would become an entrepreneur.
Eeva Punta worked in the pulp division of Stora Enso for 17 years, being in charge of environmental and quality issues. The completion of the new pulp factory in Uimaharju had been a star moment of her career thus far.
– In its day, the factory was the top of its sector, and we were the first ones used as a reference for the Best Available Technology classification in the field of pulp and paper. That is no wonder, as the head office wanted it all. An effective electric filter would have sufficed for the recovery boiler, but the head office wanted also a scrubber. In addition, the number of aerators in waste water treatment was increased – just in case.
In hindsight, Punta sees a great change for the better in the era: environmental issues became meaningful business that people wanted to invest in.
A trial period of one month
A top position in an international company did not manage to hold back the woman, who had lost her heart to toxicology. Can chemical security become a passion? Eeva Punta replies:
– My great dream is to make the society more secure. Chemical security is my thing, and running a business is my way of doing it. I have the identity of an expert.
Punta created her business plan and speculated the future. Eventually she decided to put the business plan aside for a month. After a mental trial period, the idea still seemed good. In 2004 Linnunmaa was born, Punta’s second child after Enocell.
“I wonder if this will ever pan out…”
The startup hub of Joensuu Science Park was a good starting point for Punta.
– They gave me encouragement and the green light, although I could sense a bit of doubt. An IT business caressing the world and upscaling was regarded as more admirable.
Linnumaa did not scale up, but it has grown one person at a time, and by extending the business cluster. Environmental expert Linnunmaa and Linnunmaa Lex focusing on legal services employ approximately 20 persons – toxicologists, ecotoxicologists, geologists, chemists, lawyers, persons with a Master of Science degree in Engineering. The customers represent the heavy industries – pulp, paper, chemistry, energy, minerals and metal.
University provides added value
Proximity of the university gives added value to Linnunmaa. Researchers and students are just a stone’s throw away. It is natural to exchange information with the university.
– We can use the university resources if needed, and the researchers have access to contacts in the world of business, Eeva Punta says happily. She wishes that the university and the world of business would interact more actively and in new ways.
– What happens now is that the university produces and the companies take. The flow of information and innovativeness should take place in both directions and in sufficient volumes.
The ministry will not provide any more funding, no matter how interactive the university is with the surrounding region
In part, Punta sees structural walls around the matter. Incentives could work, too.
– The ministry will not provide any more funding, no matter how interactive the university is with the surrounding region. There are no easy solutions, but it would be great if new approaches were experimented with more boldly.
Punta’s first child has also showcased boldness and innovativeness: Enocell now produces dissolving pulp for fabric manufacturers in China. The world market value of dissolving pulp is estimated to double by the year 2030.