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International cooperation is both a necessity and a reward

The 11th annual Charm of Wood (Čar lesa) officially opened in Ljubljana on 13 May 2019. This exhibition promotes the use of wood in Slovenia and raises awareness of its international use as a sustainable natural material.

A series of meetings and presentations were organized for the kick-off event, including the InnoRenew CoE sponsored “Charm of cooperation: International collaboration for an innovative forest-based value chain” conference, which took place at Cankarjev dom in conjunction with the Charm of Wood’s opening day.

“The charm of international cooperation means we are open to share and accept knowledge, experiences and examples that enable breakthrough ideas,” said Dr Andreja Kutnar, director of the InnoRenew CoE. “Our mission as a research institute is internationalization, which is the only true way to achieve a lasting benefit for science, the economy and society.”

The InnoRenew CoE is a fully international organization, with half of its employees coming from abroad and 75% of its research projects undertaken in collaboration with international partners. The institute’s internationality improves diversity of ideas and perspectives. It also allows researchers to develop networks that ensure involvement and awareness of the latest trends, innovations and activities in their fields.

“From my perspective, international cooperation in research is both required to achieve the best results and a reward in itself,” said Dr Michael Burnard, deputy director of the InnoRenew CoE. “The people we engage with globally become future collaborators, sometimes mentors or mentees, and friends, too. It’s always nice to have a few more friends in interesting places,” he added.

In keeping with the overall theme of the Charm of Wood exhibition, the conference highlighted two supporters of the InnoRenew CoE that are instrumental in promoting international cooperation and funding innovation in Slovenia’s forest-based sector: the Republic of Slovenia’s Ministry of Education, Science and Sport and the European Commission’s ERA-NET Cofund Action “ForestValue – Innovating the forest-based bioeconomy.”

After an opening speech from Dr Tomaž Boh, the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport director-general for science, the main discussion of the day was led by Mr Mika Kallio, ForestValue project coordinator, and Dr Martin Greimel, ForestValue co-coordinator, who led two roundtables to exchange ideas and thoughts about past and present ForestValue projects, all of which aim to promote increased innovation in Europe’s forest-based sector.

Slovenian researchers are important partners in this goal. Their participation in ForestValue funded projects expands an international network working to support the forest-based sector as it moves from resource- to knowledge-intensive. In 2018, the InnoRenew CoE had two projects approved for funding by ForestValue and the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport: “CLICK DESIGN delivering fingertip knowledge to enable service life performance specification of wood” (CLICK DESIGN) and “Dynamic Response of Tall Timber Buildings under Service Load – DynaTTB” (DynaTTB).


Dr Jakub Sandak, researcher in the InnoRenew CoE Wood Modification group, leads the InnoRenew CoE’s portion of the CLICK DESIGN project. As part of an international consortium led by the United Kingdom’s BRE – Building Research Establishment, CLICK DESIGN is a group of renowned research teams working together in the field of wood durability.

“It was a great privilege for the InnoRenew CoE researchers to be invited to join the group,” said Dr Sandak. “The international cooperation on this project gives the InnoRenew CoE a chance to become a mainstream research hub influencing further development of the bio-based construction sector as well as legislation and standardization in this field.”

On the CLICK DESIGN project, the InnoRenew CoE is responsible for combining user preferences and aesthetical performance of buildings for determination of maintenance schedules and visualization of building appearance during service life. A collection of reliable and validated numerical models, capable of accurately predicting service life, is critical to increase confidence in investors, architects and contractors for using biomaterials in buildings.

“As a result of the project, we hope to increase the share of sustainable structures on the market and improve customer satisfaction,” said Dr Sandak. “Slovenia has an ambition to become a country promoting sustainable development; therefore, CLICK DESIGN fits perfectly to the country’s Smart Specialization Strategy.”


Dr. Iztok Šušteršič, research group leader for the InnoRenew CoE Sustainable Building with Renewable Materials group, leads the InnoRenew CoE’s portion of the DynaTTB project. As part of an international consortium led by RISE, Research Institutes of Sweden, DynaTTB deals with the dynamic analysis of tall timber buildings under serviceability loads. During this project, buildings of different typologies, sizes, heights and timber construction practices will be experimentally measured in-situ and numerically modelled in order to provide relevant data to researchers, practicing engineers and investors.

“The diversity of such buildings across Europe is crucial for practical applicability of results and, hence, so is the international collaboration necessary to compile the data,” said Dr Šušteršič.

In the scope of the project, Slovenia will have at least one building measured and analyzed to uncover valuable information on their vibration properties to be used for both wind and seismic design.

“The InnoRenew CoE will gather a wide range of information that its experts will be able to use in their further research and consulting work worldwide. As the InnoRenew CoE heads the dissemination work on this project, its visibility on the international timber engineering stage will be further enhanced,” added Dr Šušteršič.

The InnoRenew CoE’s ongoing collaboration with the Charm of Wood continues to be successful. The exhibition highlights the importance of Slovenia’s forest-based sector within the country, while the conference expands knowledge of the sector’s innovation and international influence.

“One of the fora in which we engage the challenges of the charm of international cooperation is the European Forest-based Technology Platform (FTP), where we constructively contribute to shaping EU research and innovation policies within our sector,” said Dr. Črtomir Tavzes, researcher at the InnoRenew CoE.

“The InnoRenew CoE is by its definition a worldwide research institute, and, therefore, international collaboration is the very fabric of our existence. The charm of it is in the interaction with incredibly diverse partners and stakeholders, their origin and cultural background, life experience and, most of all, scientific, technical and human expertise, competence and quality,” he added.

The Charm of Wood exhibition will be open for visits at Cankarjev dom, in Ljubljana, until 18 May 2019. Afterwards, parts of the exhibition will travel to 11 locations across Slovenia. It will stop in Koper at Armerija from 1-21 July 2019, hosted by the InnoRenew CoE and University of Primorska.


The Charm of Wood is organized by the InnoRenew CoE, Association for the Protection of Wood of Slovenia, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Ministry of Economic Development and Technology – Wood Industry, SPIRIT Slovenia – Public Agency of the Republic of Slovenia, University of Ljubljana Biotechnical Faculty – Wood Science and Technology and the Wood Council.