Peter Bekaert on the Modellfabrik Papier: a review of the year
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This newsletter will be published twice a year and will inform you about the latest news from the Modellfabrik Papier (MFP News), news on paper science (MFP Lab) and our networking activities (MPF Net).
My name is Peter Bekaert and I have been Managing Director of the Modellfabrik Papier for two and a half years now. I see myself as the expedition leader on a mission: 80% specific energy savings in the paper manufacturing process by 2045 in order to make the paper industry sustainable and climate-neutral.
The idea of the Modellfabrik Papier arose from a co-operation between industrial partners and scientific institutes. With the political support of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the federal government as part of the structural change in the Rhenish mining area, it became a triple helix project: close cooperation between industry, science and politics. Given the large number of stakeholders, the MFP project is challenging. I am all the more pleased to be able to look back on 2023 and report on many positive events from what continues to be a challenging year for the paper industry.
The Modellfabrik Papier was founded as a non-profit organisation by 15 companies from the paper industry, the paper supply industry and paper machine manufacturers. This is a special feature: companies, some of them competitors, have founded an organisation together and they do conduct research. It is particularly pleasing that a further nine companies have found their way to us since the organisation was founded and that we have also been able to expand our sphere of activity in the Rhenish mining area. And, just in time for Christmas, 24 will soon become 25 … More soon.
Another important milestone is that in summer we have received funding decisions for the three cornerstones of the first funding period from the BMBF (Federal Ministry of Education and Research), the BMWK (Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection) and the MWIKE NRW (North Rhine-Westphalian State Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Protection and Energy). This will enable us to expand our network structures, build up the research team and realise our planned investment costs in laboratory infrastructure and technology carriers.
In the last eight months, the MFP team has grown to ten people. Introducing structures for this, building a culture and establishing values together and bringing them to life is a special task that I see as an ongoing process and that I am happy to take on. I am convinced that this process will determine whether the MFP will be successful in the long term. In the Modellfabrik Papier with its complex participation structure, trust is a key value. Mutual trust is what enables an open exchange between partners involved from science and industry, efficient collaboration and therefore goal-orientated work.
The new building is taking shape in close cooperation with the city of Düren’s business development organisation (WIN.DN). The general planner HPP was commissioned at the beginning of the year. The service phases are progressing and the ground work is starting. By the beginning of 2026, a sophisticated and attractive building – tailored to our needs – will be built in the innovation quarter at Düren railway station (IQD).
The MFP is developing dynamically with intensive cooperation in a broad network. Given the diversity of the people involved and as said before trust is a central value.
And so I look forward to the new year with confidence and wish you relaxed holidays with time for what is important to you.