Hackathons can help fill the future need for bioenergy

The Nordic-Baltic region faces urgent challenges in reducing CO2 emissions, requiring a joint effort towards sustainable energy solutions. Leveraging bioenergy solutions emerges as a key strategy to meet emission goals. It offers the potential to diminish reliance on fossil fuels across various sectors including heating, electricity generation, and transportation.

Text: From the report “Bioenergy – Knowledge transfer in the Nordic-Baltic region for increased uptake of sustainable bioenergy”


Find the report


Commissioned by the Nordic Council of Ministers and supported through the Bioeconomy programme, this scoping paper delves into the intricate landscape of bioenergy innovations within the region. Employing a mixed-method approach combining desktop research and interviews, the study identifies opportunities for further knowledge transfer activities in the Nordic-Baltic region.

A technology neutral approach is vital for knowledge exchange activities as highlighted by experts included in the study. The interviews moreover led to the following observations:

Current biomass challenges are directly linked to geopolitical conflicts

Bioenergy has to rely on by-products, low value biomass and waste

Bioenergy innovations are required to be flexible

Regional areas of excellence provide opportunity for knowledge sharing

Nordic-Baltic strongholds lie in integrated systems of bioenergy solutions

Nordic-Baltic experts would benefit from a cooperation platform and regional funding

Universities are a useful meeting place for experts to build solutions for local contexts

The Nordic-Baltic region gathers a wealth of expertise and industry interest in biomass use for energy production. Additionally, the region showcases various integrated system solutions for bioenergy—knowledge that could be applicable to other areas lacking such comprehensive approaches. This context provides a fertile foundation for fostering regional knowledge exchange and facilitating the adoption of innovative practices. Yet, amidst geopolitical uncertainties and fluctuating markets, the need for adaptability and flexibility in bioenergy strategies becomes apparent.

In response to these findings, a series of recommendations are proposed for further knowledge sharing activities:

Facilitating industry and academy interactions via a Nordic-Baltic cooperation platform

Supporting existing networks active in the region

Creating a Nordic- Baltic call to promote regional cooperation

Identifying successful integrated local solutions for knowledge sharing

Involving tomorrow’s talents: organisation of Nordic-Baltic hackathons

Nine new networks granted NKJ funds

Nine new networks are granted funding from NKJ from 2024. The fokus of the call was all aspects of food and agriculture.


The NKJ board made a decision to fund nine new networks, during their last meeting in the end of February. The number of applications was all time high, and the number of funded networks also turned out higher than usual. The applications was of high standard and the networks highly relevant, and therefore the board found it easy to grant more of them.

The total sum shared between the networks is 2 500 000 SEK, which is much higher than usual, due to the large number of granted networks.

The focus of the call this time was broad and open for networks in all aspects of food and agricultural research. The aim of the call was to facilitate collaboration between researchers in the Nordic countries, increase synergies and bridge gaps between research and practice. And in the end, nine applicants was found responding best to the requirements.

Congratulations to all granted networks, and welcome to work for a sustainable agriculture sector together with NKJ!

Next chance to apply for funding for research networks from NKJ will be in 2025. Sign upp for the NKJ newsletter to know when the next call opens!

These are the new NKJ researcher network:

2024-01 Nordic network of agricultural data scientists

2024-02 Nordic-Baltic Plant Phenotyping Network (NB-PPN)

2024-03 Sustainable meat production in the Nordic region – NordMeat

2024-04 Nordic Field Trial Network 2

2024-05 A Nordic-Baltic framework for sustainable food systems

2024-06 The Arctic ReseArch Network for Diseases in reindeer related to hUSbandry and climate change (TARANDUS 2.0)

2024-07 Nordic Food Systems Transdisciplinary Research Network

2024-08 Sustainable dairy for the future – product quality and new technologies

2024-09 Developing Integrated Pest Management in Nordic currant production

Cooperation in equestrian sport is crucial for the horse’s health

Researchers have agreed on important points to create better horse health in equestrian sports. Collaboration is one of the corner stones.

Find the policy science piece here

The NKJ co-funded networks Swedish Centre for Animal Welfare (SCAW) and Nordic Network for Communicating Animal Welfare (NordCAW) has arranged seminars and meetings during the past year. 

The seminars and meetings have evoked discussions regarding the need for change in equestrian sports and what measures need to be taken in Sweden, the Nordic countries, and Europe as a whole.

Some key points from the activities are:
• the need for improved assessment and control of horses before and during competitions
• the need for change of focus from the horse’s head position, to how the horse carries itself
• the need for assessment of conflict behaviours during competition and warm-up
training based on learning theories adapted to the horses’ condition and prerequisites
• need for changes on what and how equipment are being used

• To accomplish any kind of positive changes towards sustainable equestrianism it has also been stressed the importance of barriers analysis and collaboration between different actors, such as authorities, sports associations, veterinarians, academia and NGO’s. All have a different role to play, and all are needed for long-term change.

NJF invited to the NKJ board

NJF (Nordic Association of Agricultural Research) got two observators in the NKJ board.


The two observators are Jarkko Niemi (LUKE), president of NJF, and Silvia Gaiani (University of Helsinki), secretary general of NJF.

It is the obvious similarities in target groups and research areas that has led to the collaboration between the two organisations. Collaboration can led to synergies and a more effective work for a sustainable future agriculture sector in the Nordic region.

In coming newsletters and updates in the NKJ social channels you will find information about joint events and projects! Sign up for the NKJ newsletter here!

Networking to tackle effects of the climate change

The climate change demands adaption by the agriculture sector. Two workshops has been arranged by a NKJ funded researcher network, NordCrop, about the screening of existing genotypes for resilience that has proved that resilience traits is available in the current breeding material.


The two workshops were open for all stakeholders allowed discussion on future directions with a combination of invited international speakers and presentation from partners. Two PhD courses on applied crop physiology allowed for networking between young scientist from partner countries.

The results of the workshops can be implemented through stakeholders and the last years of fluctuations in the climate stresses the acute need to future proof the Nordic agricultural production.

The focus on the NordCrop network was in agriculture, with special emphasis on crop tolerance to stresses, both direct global change related and aspects of diseases and methods to detect stresses, but also genetic characterization and molecular biology. All these aspects are needed to cope with climate stresses and also support the green transition in the Nordic countries.

The Resilient Northern Crops Network (NordCrop) aimed to contribute to the establishment of a better understanding of the responses of field crops in the Nordic region to multiple abiotic and biotic stresses which has become a severe challenge to the food supply.


Study visit for increased gender equality

PLEN Living Labs at the University of Copenhagen in Taastrup welcomed students from Lars-Erik Larsson high school in Lund, to present research projects and the latest techniques. The goal was to create interest for the digitalised green sector – especially among the female students.

Scrolla ner för svensk text



The study visit was a pilot project and organized by NKJ and SNS in collaboration with the Nordic Testbed Network. PLEN Living Labs is part of the Nordic Testbed Network, which in turn is run by NKJ and SNS.

– When the evaluation is done, we will see if the students found it as exciting as we do! In that case, we’ll do it again, says Sofie Andersson, project coordinator at NKJ.

– The  purpose is to broaden the students’ understanding of what it can mean to work in the bioeconomy and thereby increase interest among female students in choosing the currently male-dominated educations connected to digitalisation. The sector needs all the smart minds it can get, and then we can’t shut half of the population out! It’s important that everyone in society is represented by those who develop the future technology.

The students, at their final year in high school, were shown how the research is conducted and the purpose with it, but also how the researchers have ended up where they are today. They have all taken more or less crooked paths to their jobs with technology and research for the future green sector. The students themselves are just about to choose which path they will take towards their working life. Maybe they got new ideas about what they want to do after visiting PLEN Living Labs?

Sofia Isgar thought it was nice to get in direct contact with the researchers at PLEN Living Labs and find out more about what an education in the field of natural sciences can lead to.

– I probably knew that agriculture and forestry were quite unequal industries, but not that it is the same in research, she says.

The visit to PLEN Living Labs hasn’t completely convinced her to work in the green sector, but she is planning to go ahead with something in the natural sciences.

Follow the Lars-Erik Larsson students to PLEN Living Labs:



Swedish text

PLEN Living Labs på Köpenhamns Universitet i Taastrup tog emot studenter från Lars-Erik Larsson-gymnasiet i Lund, för att visa upp sin forskning och den senaste tekniken inom det gröna området – inte minst riktat till de kvinnliga studenterna.

Studiebesöket var ett pilotprojekt och anordnades av NKJ och SNS i samarbete med Nordic Testbed Network. PLEN Living Labs är en del av Nordic Testbed Network, som i sin tur drivs av NKJ och SNS.

– När utvärderingen är gjord får vi se om studenterna tyckte att det var lika spännande som vi tycker! I så fall gör vi om det, säger Sofie Andersson, projektsamordnare på NKJ.

– Meningen är att visa hur intressant den gröna sektorn är, inte minst för kvinnor. Sektorn behöver alla smarta hjärnor den kan få, och då kan vi inte stänga ute halva befolkningen! Det är viktigt att alla i samhället är representerade av dem som utvecklar framtidens teknik.

Sistaårsstudenterna fick höra om hur forskningen bedrivs och vad den går ut på, men också hur forskarna har hamnat där de är idag. De har alla tagit mer eller mindre krokiga vägar till sina jobb med teknik och forskning för framtiden i den gröna sektorn. Studenterna själva är i startgroparna att välja vilken väg de ska ta mot sitt arbetsliv. Kanske har de fått nya idéer om vad de vill göra efter besöket på PLEN Living Labs?

Sofia Isgar tyckte det var kul att få direktkontakt med forskarna på PLEN Living Labs och få veta mer om vad man kan göra med en utbildning inom det naturvetenskapliga området.

– Jag visste nog att jord- och skogsbruk var rätt ojämställda branscher, men inte att det är likadant inom forskningen, säger hon.

Besöket på PLEN Living Labs har inte helt övertygat henne om att arbeta inom den gröna sektorn, men något inom naturvetenskap kan det ändå bli till slut.

See the presenters from the NKJ matchmaking day

See the inspiration talks from the NKJ matchmaking day December 14th 2023! Scroll down for links

The matchmaking day was an opportunity to connect to researchers in the same area of interest and to get inspired. The focus at this matchmaking day was living labs and lighthouses, to connect to the main goal of the Mission “A Soil Deal for Europe”: to establish 100 living labs and lighthouses to lead the transition towards healthy soils by 2030.

At the matchmaking day we dissected how you as a researcher can utilize living labs and lighthouses. We offered an opportunity to connect with other researchers who are looking for collaboration opportunities. NKJ informed about the current open call.

The participants were also inspired by speakers from light houses and living labs in the Nordic region. See the presentations here:

• Jesper Svensgaard: Research collaboration in living labs, PLEN living labs
• Patrick Sjöberg: Research collaboration in lighthouses, Mære landbruksskole

Matchmaking day: living labs and lighthouses in agriculture and food

NKJ has an open call for networks in agriculture and food. We want as many nordic researchers as possible to exchange knowledge, therefore we arrange a matchmaking day for you to find new colleagues, to elaborate your scientific project further and to get inspired.


When: December 14th 2023, 13.30–16.00 CET
Where: Online via Zoom, link will be sent out in advance of the meeting
Registration: Register to the event by sending an email (name, research area and institution) to


The main goal of the Mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’ is to establish 100 living labs and lighthouses to lead the transition towards healthy soils by 2030.

On the matchmaking day we take a deep dive into how you as a researcher can utilize living labs and lighthouses. We also offer an opportunity to connect with other researchers who are looking for collaboration opportunities on research connected to living labs and/or light houses. Matchmaking with other researchers will be carried out in smaller groups to maximaze the chance for the participants to gain new contacts in their own area of interest.

The groups will mainly focus on food and agricultural research in living labs/light houses connected to:

  • Climate resilience
  • Soil health
  • Plant health

You will be inspired by speakers from light houses and living labs in the Nordic region. NKJ will also inform you about the current open call that can fund your future networking activities.

13.35 Inspiration talk: PLEN Living Labs
13.55 Inspiration talk: cooperation on light houses, Mære landbruksskole
14.15 How to apply for funds from NKJ: tips and trix
14.30 Networking workshop
16.00 Finish

Funding opportunity for agricultural and food researchers

OPEN CALL: NKJ now welcomes applications from researcher networks in all aspects of food and agriculture. We want to facilitate collaboration between researchers in the Nordic countries, increase synergies and bridge gaps between research and practice.

Deadline for application: 31 januari 2024


This call is open to applicants from all fields of research within food and agriculture. NKJ wants to facilitate collaboration between researchers in the Nordic countries and link national research projects where considerable positive outcomes can be reached through a wider regional scope. Nordic collaboration increase synergies in agriculture and food sector research.

NKJ supports the creation of Nordic networks of researchers that can make it easier to apply for funding and participate in European collaborations e.g. Horizon Europe.

To have the chance to be granted, the network should include applicants from at least three Nordic countries. Each gender must be represented by a minimum of 40% of the participants in the network, and NKJ welcomes applicants and participants of other genders. Young researchers should be included in the network.

Network outputs should be useful for the Nordic community and should include knowledge exchange across national borders.

You can apply for maximum 300.000 SEK, and you will need co-financing of at least 50% of the total budget.


The focus areas in the NKJ strategy can give you some inspiration:

  • Increase sustainability and resilience in agriculture and food production in a growing bioeconomy
  • Strengthen the Nordic region’s position in agricultural and food research within Europe
  • Use land resources as a basis for value creation and regional development as well as improved supply capacity, reduced environmental and climate impact and better adaptation to the climate
  • Strengthen the knowledge base for sustainable reindeer husbandry
  • Strengthen and develop the New Nordic Food project to promote Nordic food culture and strengthen the food system
  • Strengthen equality within the bioeconomy with a particular focus on gender and the position of children and youth


BUT this call is open for applicants from all fields of research within food and agriculture!


Call text

Application form

NKJ strategy

Gender equality guidelines

Networking for reduced post-harvest losses in apples

Only a minor share of the consumed apples in Nordic countries are domestically produced.  Therefore, minimal post-harvest losses are critical to better satisfy consumers’ demand for locally produced fruit and to improve growers’ economy.
Text: Larisa Gustavsson


Researchers, stakeholders and decision makers has gathered during the last two years, to exchange and assemble knowledge and pave the way for efficient collaboration on storage losses.

The common strategic goal has been to minimize post-harvest losses due to storage decay.  To achieve that, the network Nordic Apple Network brought together researchers and stakeholders in two informative meetings and moved forward in our understanding of important pre- and post-harvest factors leading to development of storage rots.

This has also had an immediate impact, since some ideas for new research projects were developed. For example:

• Which are the main causes for postharvest losses?
• Physiological disorders – conditions on which these are occurring
• Fungal diseases – how to identify them?

A platform for a long-term collaboration involving researchers and the apple industries in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland has been built.

Photo: Private