Blue Sky Young Researchers and Innovation Award

logo_blue_skyThe Award 

By using the angle of innovation, ICFPA launched in 2016 the Blue Sky Young Researcher and Innovations Award, a global award that aims to stimulate competition between students and young researchers carrying out projects in a wide range of activities relevant to forest-based science, products using forest-based raw materials, process improvements or other innovations throughout the value chain.
After a transparent and objective selection process, the most attractive submissions have the opportunity to present their project in front of an audience of global forest products industries CEOs at the occasion of the CEO Roundtable, promoted by the ICFPA. Travel expenses and accommodation are sponsored by the Blue Sky Young Researchers Innovation Award.

Only tree students every two years are selected to the international reward. Each country nominates national candidates to compete internationally after going through the national selection.

Each year a Term of Reference will be published and posted on the website with information on criteria and general theme. Please find the Term of Reference for 2018-2019 Award here.

The award is not only about research and development; it is about innovation and about being inspirational, interesting and green.

2016- 2017 Competition

2016 was the first year of the global competition, which had the following theme: "*Game Changing Technologies for the Forest and Paper Industry – Unfolding the Potential of Forest, Paper and Wood Based Products." The theme included 2 sub areas:

Future Generation Forestry

  • Forest tree breeding and biotechnology
  • Precision forestry
  • Measurements and inventory

Innovation in the Wood-Based Industry

  • Analysis and properties of pulp and paper
  • Facilities, instrument and process control
  • Bioproducts and wood chemistry
  • Recycling, deinking and environment
  • Timber for construction
  • Material substitution with wood

The national level award was conducted from May to December, 2016. Nominations period is now closed. Twelve national finalists were indicated to the global selection which started in January 2017.

The 2017 Global Selection will be conducted by a jury composed of experts and global representatives of renowned organizations, including:

  • Mark Gardner, CEO of Sappi (United States)
  • Dr. Akira Isogai, Professor of the Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences at The University of Tokyo (Japan)
  • Dr. Ligia Ferrari Torella di Romagnano, from Institute of Research and Technology (Brazil)
  • Prof. Wingfield, Chairman of IUFRO and Director of FABI (South Africa)
  • Andrey Kushlin, Deputy Director of Forestry Department of Food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Global Finalists


 Project Title


ICFPA  member

 Biony Hooper

 Maximising Incident Learning Opportunities

 New Zealand 


 Esthevan Gasparotto

 Cutting-edge Technologies for forest monitoring and measurement



 Goeun Sim

 Development of Smart Colored Textile



 Isabel Diaz




 Koh Sakai

 Cellulose Nanofibers Prepared by Phosphorylation



 Shuji Fujisawa

 Biocompatible nanocellulose/polymer composite microparticles formed by emulsion-templated synthesis



 Lea Falcoz-Vigne

 Interaction of hemicelluloses and cellulose and their influence on the cellulose microfibrillation process 



 Marc Delgado-Aguilar 

 Building bridges between bio and nanotechnology and papermaking sector: novel strategies for paper properties improvement



 Petra Strizincoka

 Valorization of Spruce Bark



 Ryan Merckel

 Catalytic Pyrolysis for Upgrading of Bio-oil

 South Africa


 Sonja Boshoff

 Waste to Energy

 South Africa


 Spyro Bousios

 Novel biobased products from side streams of paper and board production




2016-2017 Winners

The winners of the 2016-2017 sessions were:

  •  Koh Sakai, with the project 'Cellulose nanofibres prepared by phosphorylation'
  •  Shuji Fujisawa, with the project 'Biocompatible nanocellulose/polymer composite microparticles formed by emulsion-templated synthesis'
  • Esthevan Gasparoto, with the project 'Cutting-edge technologies for forest monitoring and measurement'

The winners presented their projects at the ICFPA Annual Meeting and in front of 20 CEOs of forest based industry from around the world at the occasion of the CEOs Roundtable held on May 18th, 2017 in Berlin.

The ICFPA congratulates all the participants and the global winners of the first edition of this global competition. ICFPa believes it is important to foster knowledge and stimulate innovative research among young researchers.