Fresh start for underground facilities
The Baltic Sea Underground Innovation Network, or BSUIN in short, establishes a network of underground laboratories across the Baltic Sea region that works as an open innovation platform facilitating scientific technology transfer and best practices exchange. It improves access of small and medium sized enterprises to the laboratories and helps exploit potential for incubating innovative businesses. Baltic underground laboratories thrive for widening the scope of the offered services, which could go far beyond the scientific purpose e.g. mining product development, energy storage, bioenergy, tourism and agriculture, for instance mushroom farming. In many cases, such re-branding is a chance for a fresh start and an alternative way of saving old mining facilities from closing down, like in the case of the Callio Lab in Pyhäjärvi, Finland.
The almost 100-year-old Research and Education Mine "Reiche Zeche", located in Germany, has primarily been serving as a research facility. David Horner from TU Bergakademie Freiberg Technical University explains that following a global shift in the mining industry, the laboratory wishes now to open up to Research & Development enterprises to help them enhance their ideas on site: “Industry which did not belong to mining in the past is increasingly interested in developing their products in a mining environment.”
Another underground laboratory involved in the project, Äspö Hard Rock Laboratory located in Oskarshamn, Sweden, is a 30-year-old facility dedicated to nuclear waste research. As the laboratory is about to be closed down, Mats Ohlsson, Coordinator of External Relations at the laboratory, hopes to offer this underground facility for other type of research and initiatives in order to ensure its further existence.
The team of Ruskeala Marble Quarry and Geopark in Sortavala, Karelia, Russia, joined the project network to explore the possibilities of using the site for mostly touristic purposes. As the network combines a lot of cross-sectoral expertise, it is already clear now to Vitali Shekov from the team that there are more opportunities to come.