We are welcoming the Intelligent Organic Farming testbed to the network

Nordic Testbed Network is happy to introduce you to the Intelligent Organic Farming testbed, linked to the Institute for Environmental Solutions (IES) in Latvia, as a new member.


Photo: The Institute for Environmental Solutions

The testbed demonstrates a close cooperation between research and the industry for growing medicinal and aromatic plants, and production of high-value added plant-based products demanded in the largest pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and food manufacturers in Europe. We got the chance to talk to Inese Suija-Markova and Guna Dātava, linked to the testbed.

In the context of the digital bioeconomy, what issues do you see as the most important going forward?

– Digital bioeconomy has a big potential for all kinds of agriculture, including organic farming, which is one of the focus areas of our testbed. It involves the development of tools needed to effectively plan, manage, and optimise production and sales. It can also give farmers an in-depth knowledge of the specific conditions of their farms, like the soil, plant development and vitality, yield quality, waste reduction possibilities, etc.  However, the development and implementation of digital solutions requires active learning, co-creation, experimentation, and various support instruments, like funding for developing, upscaling, and promoting digital solutions.

What would you like to contribute to the network?

– The Institute for Environmental Solutions (IES) can share knowledge and expertise on research-industry cooperation in sustainable innovation development. IES’s Intelligent Organic Farming testbed is focused on medicinal and aromatic plants. The equipment, facilities, and accumulated expertise of IES help to research them in various dimensions – from field to lab, from seed preparation till harvesting, from rubber boots to space, from local to global. Thus, creating the products and services demanded in the largest pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and food manufacturers in Europe.

News from Drone Center Sweden

A lot has happened at Drone Center Sweden in the last year. We got to the chance to talk to Åke Sivertun, project coordinator at the centre.


What has been the main events and news at Drone Center Sweden in 2021?

– Let’s see… says Åke Sivertun, project coordinator at Drone Centre Sweden.

  • The Vinnova UAV testbed project in Västervik ended in December 2020 but Drone Center Sweden continued on commercial grounds with test of “the biggest UAV in the world”, the Thunder Wasp that can carry up to 1 500 kg of payload and which is now used by Danish Vestas for building and maintaining wind power mills, for forest fire fighting and heavy lifts.
  • The Swedish Transport Administration provided the testbed with continuous support in the project Positioning – Navigation – Communication for a further Unmanned Traffic Management system – UTM, [PNK4UTM] that will run to 2024 with support from Telia, Ericsson, Lantmäteriet/SWEPOS, Vattenfall, Södra skogsägarna, T2-data, Wabema, Västervik municipality, WASP/Wara PS.
  • The Large Wallenberg Autonomous Software and System Program (WASP) was performing demo weeks at the testbed.
  • Edit 3.0 hold three exercises with simulated train accidents on the railway in Västervik with the police, the rescue organisations, SOS-alarm, the Swedish Transport Administration, and Swedish Railway.
  • We installed the Altitude Angle Guardian UTM system in the testbed for evaluation and managed to do the EDIT 3.0 exercise at the same time as the Swedish Airforce was holding an exercise in the same airspace from the Västervik airfield only 500 meters away.
  • The Swedish Transport Agency announced the testbed as a geographical UAS-zone.
  • The final seminar for the EU project AFarCloud was organised, with drones and autonomous tractors for the agricultural sector.

What is your most pressing issue going forward?

– The most pressing issue is that it is very difficult to get money to develop the real challenges to get safe and secure operations with UAVs in a bigger scale and over larger distances. US, Korea, Japan and many other countries are taking UAVs much more seriously so the Nordic countries must come together to form regulations and support to develop these services.

What are your expectations for 2022?

The expectations for 2022 is that we together with the Norwegian UAV firm AVIANT can start long-haul flights with medical equipment, tests and vaccine with support of our systems for Cyber secure and safe operations based on Mobile networks and nRTK or other cyber safe positioning. We also want to finalise operations with support from both 4G LTE and 5G and perhaps be able to provide personal transports with UAVs.

We welcome three new testbeds to the network

AquaVIP, a three-year project, is led by Klaipeda Science and Technology Park, accompanied by University of Rostock, University of Gdańsk and Klaipeda University. The AquaVIP experiments will be focused on innovative solutions with the potential to be implemented into aquaculture business in the South Baltic area.

– We believe that innovative aquaculture will bring benefits to businesses in our region and society in general, as it provides healthy, secure and regionally produced high quality food. The use of innovative environmentally friendly production technologies will also open new, international markets, providing new jobs and blue-green growth in the South Baltic area, says Andrius Sutnikas, AquaVIP.

SFI Digital Food Quality (DigiFoods) is a research centre that will develop smart sensors for food quality assessment directly in the processing lines. The obtained information will be used for optimisation of processes and value chains, thereby making the food industry more efficient and sustainable.

– The most pressing issue is to develop smart sensors that can measure and digitise the most relevant food quality features, and use this information to optimise processes to reduce food waste and increase profit, says Jens Petter Wold, DigiFoods.

The autonomous robotic platform Latvijas iDārzs (Latvian i-Garden) aims to contribute to a sustainable development of the plant nursery sector, by enabling plant monitoring and tending functions as well as automation and digitalisation of the production process.

In order to ensure the applicability of the system in gardens and farms with high crop diversity, a systematic data collection and processing solution will be integrated in the Latvian i-Garden platform, which will use databases, machine learning and other artificial intelligence solutions to interpret the situation and make horticulture management decisions.


Join us in welcoming two new testbeds to the network!

We are happy to introduce you to the Latvian Institute of Aquatic Ecology (LIAE) and SITES, the Swedish Infrastructure for Ecosystem Science, as new members in Nordic Testbed Network.  


The Latvian Institute of Aquatic Ecology (LIAE) located in Riga, is a public research institute, an agency of Daugavpils University, making use of digital solutions such as smart buoys, satellites and drones to collect and analyse data about the blue bioeconomy.

SITES, the Swedish Infrastructure for Ecosystem Science is a national infrastructure for terrestrial and limnological field research, aiming to promote high-quality research through long-term field measurements and field experiments, and by making data from these activities openly available.

We got the chance to ask Anda Ikauniece (LIAE), as well as Stefan Bertilsson and Blaize Denfeld (SITES) some questions.

In the context of the digital bioeconomy, what issues do you see as the most important going forward?

Anda Ikauniece, LIAE:
– In the marine digital bioeconomy the resource extraction could be the most complicated part. Therefore, the development of a true digital twin of the sea would be a way forward. At the sea, the conditions are often harsh and even the most robust systems do suffer from nature’s strength. So, the other alternative could be securing truly reliable data transfers – both via software and deployed equipment.

Stefan Bertilsson, SITES:
– Broadly, the development of knowledge-based best practices in forestry, agriculture and aquacultures, require research, open sharing of data and technical advancements. Innovation and socioeconomic development which recognise the connectivity of systems and optimise their use and management are of central importance. Agricultural practices should for example go beyond merely supplying food to a growing population, but also consider climate change resilience, biodiversity and other key ecosystem services. Similar considerations need to be made in long-term sustainable forestry efforts.

What would you like to contribute to the network?

Anda Ikauniece, LIAE:
– At present we can provide information on themes relevant for marine (digital) bioeconomy – mostly on environmental challenges and perspectives. We would be happy to provide a possibility to test new methodologies in marine conditions or in related “terrestrial-aquatic” systems.

Blaize Denfeld, SITES:
– SITES research stations, which span agricultural land, forests and inland waters across Sweden, provide a testbed where new digital knowledge and technology can be developed. SITES is a forum and platform for integrative ecosystem science bringing together academia and various stakeholders by offering an infrastructure for field measurements and manipulation experiments and access to openly available ecosystem data.

Digital Forest Academy – an initiative to advance the digitalisation of Swedish forestry

Through the Digital Forest Academy, Mistra Digital Forest has designed five courses aimed at companies in the forest industry. Topics include Digital innovation, Digital transformation, Digital entrepreneurship, Business analysis and AI for companies.


All courses are conducted on demand and tailored to the organisation’s unique needs. The purpose of the training is to enable forestry companies to benefit from digitalisation in their daily operations.

We asked Erik Willén, who is working with the initiative, what are the biggest challenges for organisations in the forest industry aiming to take the next step in their digitalisation process?

– Digitalisation opens the opportunity for new ways of working and to involve new competencies. It may lead to new business opportunities and additional value chains. It is however a process that requires time and resources that might be hard to allocate.

Could you give examples of what companies learn from these courses, what could be some key takeaways?

– One important finding is how different a management team thinks about digitalisation and new opportunities. If not digitalisation in your company is set by the management, how should the rest of the organisation behave?

Do you have any questions? Contact Erik Willén or Jonny Holmström.




Join the virtual meeting on data access, reliability and security

How to approach issues related to data access, reliability and security?

One way to approach this is by putting the questions into a context, making them more concrete. Another is to learn from what others have done, looking at initiatives carried out for example at European level.

In this online meeting you will have the opportunity to listen to speakers with experience as well as take part in discussions and to share with others. Welcome to join!

WHEN: June 3, 10.00-12.00 CET

WHERE: Online via Zoom, link will be sent out a couple of days before the meeting

FOCUS: Highlighting opportunities and best practices, as well as challenges with regard to data management

SIGN UP by 21th May
Participating at the event is free of any charge


▪ Reflections from a testbed – Data challenges in practice, Kjersti Balke Hveem, head of NIBIO’s Centre for Precision Agriculture

▪ Keynote lecture – Data management, Suzanne Dumouchel, Head of European Cooperation TGIR Huma-Num (CNRS), Partnerships Coordinator of OPERAS AISBL & Member of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) Association Board of Directors

▪ Panel discussion – Critical data management questions, Ohad Graber-Soudry, commercial lawyer (advokat) X-officio, Tomas Klingström (Gigacow testbed), PhD Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Erik Willén (Auto2 testbed), Process Manager at Skogforsk

▪ Interactive session, all participants are invited to discuss predefined questions

More information

New report: does digital transformation affect gender inequalities?

“Redefining digital bioeconomy” is a new report reviewing how the digital transformation affects gender inequalities in the Nordic bioeconomy.

The bioeconomy is largely male dominated. Moving towards a digital bioeconomy, the sector is married with the even more heavily male dominated tech industry. This imposes the question of how the gender balance in the sector will be affected as the digital transformation permeates the bioeconomy. The newly published report “Redefining digital bioeconomy” sets out to answer this question by reviewing existing literature on the topic.

While there are plenty of research within the areas of bioeconomy, digitalisation and gender, literature combining all three areas is sparse. This literature review therefore studies the three areas in pairs (gender–bioeconomy/ digitalisation–bioeconomy/gender–digitalisation), with the aim of identifying and presenting the most frequent themes within these pairs. The findings show that:

1) The gender–bioeconomy literature focuses on understanding how the bioeconomy became a field with masculine connotations, symbolically as well as in practice;

2) Within the digitalisation–bioeconomy literature, the most prominent discussions include the use of data analytics, social sustainability, and challenges in adapting to the technologies;

3) The literature on gender–digitalisation raises stereotypes and the masculine construction of technology, education and labour market issues as well as gender equality.

By looking at the intersection of the three areas, analysing the commonalities in the identified themes, two major conclusions are drawn. Firstly, the momentum of the shift in workforce demand both in the bioeconomy and technology sectors could be used to actively redefine the stereotypical bioeconomy worker. Secondly, the need for female leadership, mentors and networks is widely emphasised as key to attract more women to the sectors.

With this as a backdrop, the report suggests and problematises five action points moving forward:

  • Increasing the number of female role models
  • Mentorship programs
  • Networks for young professionals and students
  • Further research in the intersection of digitalisation, bioeconomy, and gender
  • Tools and methods to incorporate this topic in bioeconomy-related education

The review constitutes the first step in the Bioequality project and will serve as a foundation for informed discussions and decisions for action. The project is funded by three organisations linked to the Nordic Council of Ministers, SNS, NKJ and NIKK, and runs until December 2021.


Finnish AgriHubi Network promotes farm business management and digitalisation

Farm Business Competence Network Finland is a new national initiative that brings together research, advice and education and builds interaction with other actors in the food system.


The aim of the collaborative network is to promote and facilitate scientific knowledge into the better use of farm enterprises. The AgriHubi Network promotes cooperation between actors and builds new connections thematically. Main themes are farm business management, knowledge management and smart farming. Here Sari Forsman-Hugg, head of the AgriHubi Network, and Liisa Personen talk more about the network.

Makes farm enterprises stronger
“AgriHubi helps farm enterprises develop their competitiveness, resilience and renewal in a chancing operational environment. We are currently building roadmaps on the themes of farm business management and smart farming. Roadmaps will be developed together with network representatives. The aim of the roadmaps is to make visible and concrete what changes and action points are needed to make the Finnish agriculture more profitable and competitive in 2030”, says Sari Forsman-Hugg, Head of the AgriHubi Network.

”AgriHubi is connected and willing to collaborate with other national and international networks within this field. Collaboration with European SmartAgriHubs network is important for us, as well as introducing testbeds among AgriHubi partners to the Nordic Testbed Network”, Liisa Pesonen emphasizes.

Actors on the area of ​​discomfort
“The strength and effectiveness of AgriHubi comes from working together. Real change arises from questioning established patterns of action. We must step into the zone of discomfort and experiment new ways of doing things. Farm entrepreneurs are encouraged to participate in pilot projects”, Sari Forsman-Hugg emphasizes.

AgriHubi provides an interaction forum where farm enterprises can influence and participate in the reform of education in the field, especially in farm management and the digitalization and the development of advisory services. A web service will be built for AgriHubi, where network operators will compile the latest research data and solutions based on both research and development work.

Coordinated by LUKE
The AgriHubi network is coordinated by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke). To support the network, a steering group has been set up, representing a wide range of actors and stakeholders in the sector: farm companies and producer organizations, educational institutions, advisory organizations, research institutes and companies in the food chain. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry supports the work.

For more information about the AgriHubi Network, contact Sari Forsman-Hugg, Head of the AgriHubi Network: sari.forsman-hugg@luke.fi