Investing into innovations and development is a major part of the Biofore strategy. Innovation work is being done in co-operation with suppliers, customers, startups and universities, but also internally. A business culture with a positive attitude towards innovation encourages employees to question old ways of working and find new angles on things. New innovations are born for example at the Biofore Boot Camps which are organized around subjects relevant to UPM's development.
When looking for new innovations, bringing together people with different backgrounds and knowhow usually creates the best circumstances for success. The Boot Camp innovation programme, started at the beginning of 2015, brings together UPM employees from different business activities, departments and roles. The workshop lasts one or two days, during which people form teams to tackle topical development projects. The Boot Camp participants are chosen based on their relevant knowhow and their interest in development work. The actual workshops are very informal – the group decides on the goals and methods. After the workshop, the groups pitch their ideas to the judges, and a winner is chosen from among them.
"Some of the ideas born at the Boot Camps are currently being refined in development projects that they've inspired, and some have already been put into practice. As a result, the company is constantly evolving for the better. Another major advantage is the creation of networks between the employees within the company," says Innovation Development Manager Veera Eskelin.
Biofore Boot Camps are organised every few months. The concept has been developed by Eskelin together with Esa Laurinsilta, UPM's Director of Strategic Partnerships. "We are always on the lookout for subjects suitable to be developed further at the Biofore Boot Camps. The goal is to work on real business challenges and develop our ways of working."
The blue group
Energy and curiosity at the YoungFore Boot Camp
YoungFore Boot Camp, organised in June, combined UPM's YoungFore activities with Boot Camp innovation. YoungFore brings together employees of all ages and from different roles – despite its name, it's not only for young people. Anyone interested in networking and learning new things can join.
At the YoungFore Boot Camp the day started with presentations on development projects on digitalisation. After this, the participants were split into teams. Each participant chose a subject that they were interested in and dressed in the colours of their team. During the intensive afternoon each team focused on coming up with an idea to solve a particular problem. As the day went on, the teams summarised their solution into a brief presentation and the next morning they took the stage to pitch their ideas to a jury of UPM Group Executive Team.
"The pitches were excellent. The whole jury was impressed. The teams had done excellent work and honed their presentations late into the night and it showed! The presentation and communication skills were top quality, and the teams had even made demos and prototypes of their concepts," commented Eskelin.
The winning concept was a digital solution for inducting new employees. "Our concept makes the on-boarding process easier and more efficient and makes sure that all related tasks are done on time. An important part of the process is forming a good network with relevant contacts at work. Our model improves employee satisfaction and makes working more efficient. The Boot Camp experience was inspiring and we worked well together as a team. Everybody's input was visible in the final result," says Piritta Rajala, who works in UPM HR and was a member of the winning team.