Interdisciplinary EM&Ts challenge at Aalto University
January 24 – 28, 2022

After the kick-off at TECNUN in June, the second design challenge held at PoliMi in July and the third round after the summer break at KEA, the last of these series of interdisciplinary EM&Ts challenges will take place in Finland on January 24 – 28, 2022 at Aalto University.

The interdisciplinary EM&Ts challenge involves some students of the Universities part of the Datemats mobility in a combination of hands-on experimentation, design activities, lectures and presentations by the teaching staff and by partnering companies. The students are going to work in teams hands-on in the laboratories of the Aalto University School of Chemical Engineering to develop new ideas and find new solutions on how to use recycled cellulose in interior design and construction.

Indeed, this last Datemats design challenge in Finland is about wood-based materials, including cellulose fibers, fibrils (micro- or nano-structured) and derivatives, lignin, bark extractives and novel combinations of these. As bio-based materials have an important role in the transition towards a sustainable material future, the workshop challenge is focusing especially in recycling of cellulose waste.


Company presenting the brief

HONEXT®️ is an innovative Barcelona-based company that upcycles waste fibres into fully recyclable, non-toxic panels using a carbon-neutral and circular biotech process.


Today, HONEXT® uses as main raw material the sludge waste from paper mills, the volume of which continues to increase as paper recycling rates grow. Only in the EU, paper mills generate more than 8 million tons of this waste every year.


The HONEXT®️ Industrial Process is bio-based, zero-waste, and resin-free. It reinforces and protects the bonds between cellulose fibres, creating 100% recyclable fibreboards with no added emissions of VOCs such as formaldehyde. HONEXT®️ panels have a wide range of applications for the interior furniture and built environment.


HONEXT®️ was established in 2011 by Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya researchers and three generations of the Merino family: Ferran, Pere and Pol Merino. After 10 years of development, HONEXT® manufactures its panels at no cost to the planet in the company’s first functional factory, integrated in a landfill in Vacarisses (Barcelona, Spain).


Nordic Bioproducts Group is a spin-off from Aalto University developing and commercializing smart biotechnologies to redesign cellulose into high-value bioproducts. We develop, produce and commercialize Cellulose Hybrids which are renewable, value-adding components engineered to improve material properties. We produce them from Micro Crystalline Cellulose (MCC) with our patented AaltoCell™ technology.

Our Cellulose Hybrids can replace fossil-based, unsustainable, or harmful components in e.g. food, packaging, plastics, and textile industries.

The goal of the Uusi puu project is to increase general awareness of the wood-based bioeconomy; highlighting new and existing products and solutions, exploring their impact on society, and offering expert perspectives on the outlook for this innovative industry. Comprising more than 20 Finnish organisations, Uusi puu is a community that promotes wood-based bioeconomy and provides information to influencers and political decision-makers about the significance and value of wood-based products.

VTT is one of Europe’s leading research institutions. We are owned by the Finnish state. VTT’s purpose is to bring together people, business, science and technology, to solve the world’s biggest challenges, creating sustainable growth, jobs and well-being. Our ambition is to bring exponential hope to a world that needs to deal with the climate crisis, achieve resource sufficiency, drive industrial renewal, provide safety and security, and enable good life for all.

Stora Enso develops and produces solutions based on wood and biomass for a range of industries and applications worldwide, leading in the bioeconomy and supporting our customers in meeting demand for renewable eco-friendly products.

Building on our heritage and know-how in forestry and trees, Stora Enso is committed to the development of products and technologies based on renewable materials. Our products, in many cases, provide a low-carbon alternative to products made from fossil-based or other non-renewable materials.

Today our solutions are found in such segments as building, retail, food and beverages, manufacturing, publishing, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, confectionary, hygiene and textiles. Tomorrow, we believe there is the potential to produce anything that’s made with fossil-based materials from a tree.

Stora Enso has some 23 000 employees, and is publicly listed on the Helsinki and Stockholm stock exchanges. Our sales in 2020 were EUR 8.6 billion, with an operational EBIT of EUR 650 million.


9.00 Welcome
9.20 ICS Wereables EM&Ts by Venere Ferraro
9.40 Advanced Growing EM&Ts by Anke Pasold

10:00 Break

10:10 HONEXT Company and Challenge

11:00 Break

11:10 Nanomaterials EM&Ts by Robert Thompson Casas

11:30 Experimental Wood-based EM&Ts by Tapani Vuorinen

12.30 – 13.30 Lunch

13.30 Familiarizing with laboratories and safety measurements

14:30 Laboratory work

16.00 Datemats Exhibition Visit

9.00 Preparations

10:30 Coffee Break

09:15 Design Pill by VTT

09:45 Laboratory work

12.30 – 13.30 Lunch

13.30 Laboratory work


9.00 Joint Discussion

9.15 Design Pill by Stora Enso

9.45 Design Pill by Nordic Bioproducts Group 
10.15 Break
10.30 Idea development with experts
12.30 – 13.30 Lunch

13.30 – 17.00 Laboratory work

9.00 Preparation

9:15 Design Pill by Uusipuu

9:45 Laboratory work

12.30 – 13.30 Lunch

13.30-17.00 Preparing final presentation

9.00 Finalizing prototypes, concepts and presentations

13.30 – 17.00 Project presentations and comments from experts and company

Exp. wood-based, AALTO – Download the student projects