Finland-based paper and pulp company Metsä Board has revealed plans to set up a  paperboard and packaging excellence centre in Äänekoski.

The Excellence Centre project will bring together packaging design, research and development (R&D) in one place to support future paperboard and packaging solutions development.

The centre will house a number of offices, one laboratory and R&D facilities, as well as a counter to collect and manage customer feedback.

In addition, the centre will feature a packaging design studio equipped with the latest technology.

Metsä Board Sales and Marketing senior vice-president Sari Pajari said: “The new Excellence Centre will enable a wide variety of collaboration, especially in the area of holistic packaging design, throughout the value chain.

“We will be able to organise packaging design workshops and innovation days together with our customers and partners in order to demonstrate the full potential of our lightweight, fresh fibre paperboards.”

Metsä Board expects to begin construction planning this summer with a target to get the centre into operational service by next year.

The Äänekoski site, where the excellence centre will be situated, is also home to the company’s plants, including Metsä Group’s next-generation bioproduct mill, Metsä Board’s board mill and the Pro Nemus visitor centre.

In February, Metsä Spring and Japanese Itochu Corporation formed a joint venture to demonstrate new technology to convert paper-grade pulp into textile fibres. Production at the textile fibre demo plant in Äänekoski will commence at the end of this year.

Metsä Board produces fibre paperboards, including folding boxboards, foodservice boards and white kraftliners for consumer goods, retail and food service applications.

The company is part of the Metsa Group and has approximately 2,350 employees worldwide.