A true circular economy innovation, the Ioncell® technology, has been under development by Aalto University for nearly ten years. This process could revolutionize both the production of wood into textiles and the recycling of textile waste enabling old textiles to get a new life as high-quality fibers, sustainably and without the use of any harmful chemicals. Due to the soft feel and wet-strength properties of the Ioncell® fibers, they are tenacious and work well in both clothing and technical applications .
The Ioncell® process utilizes a solvent called ionic liquid to dissolve cellulose (developed at the University of Helsinki). In the dissolved state, cellulose can be transformed into beautiful, strong fibers using the dry-jet wet spinning technology. The only chemicals applied are the non-toxic ionic liquid and water. They are both re-circulated in the process in a closed loop.
The fiber properties of Ioncell® are equal or better than viscose and Tencel™ fibers.
Until now, the Ioncell® technology development has mainly been publicly funded under a university research team. As the first significant step in the commercialization roadmap, a pilot plant has been built, where small batches of fiber are produced for customer testing.
After the successful pilot tests, the Ioncell® technology is raising interest of certain key market players who want to become anchor investors and ensure a successful market launch of the technology. As a result, Aalto University has decided to spin off this technology into an independent company (“NewCo”), which will take-over Ioncell® upscaling, commercialization, and business activities.
Please read more about the Ioncell: https://ioncell.fi/
At this juncture, an experienced Chief Executive Officer will be hired to set-up and upscale the NewCo operations and global business.
The textile market is large with fast growth; it has doubled in size in the last 20 years and is currently about 110 Million tons. Expected growth to 2030 is 2,5 % per year. Manmade cellulosic fibres represent some 6.2% of the total textile market, but this segment is growing at a faster pace: viscose at 6-7 % p.a. and Lyocell at 15 % p.a.
There is a need and growing pressure in the market to shift away from cotton to more sustainable recycled and biobased materials such as Ioncell®, which would be a good replacement to Lyocell on the market.
The new company ("NewCo") will be founded during the Autumn 2021.
The organization with commercial and technical competences needs to be built-up.
The current high-level commercialization roadmap can be reviewed here: Ioncell commercialization roadmap
The current, initial business plan will be discussed more in detail in the interviews.
In order to make a successful market launch, to scale up and commercialize Ioncell® business successfully globally, a seasoned entrepreneurially oriented Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is needed to be hired for the NewCo.
The CEO will be in charge of new company's strategic and operative business planning, organizing financing, building organization and capabilities for commercial and technical execution, as well as managing daily operations of the company. Parallel to commercial activities, there will be a strong focus in technology and plant management, as one of the significant next steps is planning and building a demo manufacturing facility.
This is an interesting and high-profile opportunity to be in a key position in developing a more sustainable textile industry and circular economy with Finnish innovation.
The ideal candidate will be a seasoned, visionary and commercially oriented business leader with profit and loss responsibilities and experience in leading successful business expansion and growth. Ideally s/he would have experience both from established larger corporation as well as from scale-up businesses. S/he will have experience and good understanding of business logic in circular economy, similar process industry and/or preferably in textile industry in a global context.
S/he has strong financial and business acumen, and s/he has been working with different investors.
The new CEO enjoys and has capabilities in influencing, negotiating and collaborating across the value chain while sharing the vision of a more sustainable future in the industry, Ioncell®’s positive impact to it and the business benefits to different players.
The new CEO has a strong entrepreneurial mind-set, and s/he can lead and motivate people through uncertainty, creating a ‘can-do’ spirit and culture. S/he will be a good people leader who enjoys working with different professionals from marketing to technology experts.
We are the modern executive search and career advice company. Our mission is to help modern, responsible companies succeed by ensuring inclusive talent solutions.
Working with us, our clients not only reach the best leaders for their business and teams, but can make the best possible talent decisions with the help of our truly objective and inclusive process and services.
For our candidates, we want to give an equal opportunity to make a real difference.
Photo on the background: Copyright (c) Aalto University. All rigths reserved. Aalto University / Mikko Raskinen.