Taking the long route

EmmiWhen my kids were smaller, we used to take them sailing. After leaving the harbor, engine turned off, their dad winching up the sails, my daughter would ask “Are we there yet?”. Just like me when I was little. She didn’t see why we couldn’t just ride somewhere quickly for an ice-cream. That the journey was more important than the destination.

At Spinnova, I talk to our potential partners; brands who take an interest in our fibre innovation. The market seems to hope that this fibre became available as soon as possible. Of course, we all feel the environmental pressure to do something fast.

I then explain our maturity stage; that we are now building a pilot factory in Finland, as we need proof of concept. Starting a greenfield factory is a big undertaking. Next year, the pilot will mostly just produce enough fibre for our committed commercial partners for testing. After we are convinced everything works, comes the time to plan for the first commercial factory.

For future business models, anything is possible for us. We can manufacture, license the technology to others and / or set up joint venture factories. This way, fibre will be produced closer to where it’s used – globally if it’s up to us. Plus, as scientists we don’t stop at the first product – we will be developing more novel, 100% sustainable fibre materials based on the same technology.

Why have we taken the long route? To understand, one needs to know our vision. We want to see a world where textiles made of our cellulose-based, chemical-free fibre are available to all consumers around the world, at a reasonable price, with a minimum environmental footprint. What we need here is scale and volume. If we were to sell the method exclusively to the first bidder just to cash in quickly, our vision would probably not become reality.

By ensuring we know what goes into the process of making the world’s most sustainable fibre, we know we can scale it. We are very well set up for that. The renewable raw material is there, the pilot factory is very soon there, the wonderful partners and financial backup are there. Things are looking great for us! What things are not looking is fast, however. This is the long route, for a good reason.

Good things come to those who wait. I too learned to appreciate sailing later.