GENIUS – Gävleborg Eco-Network for Industrial and Urban Symbiosis

GENIUS is a facilitation platform that promotes industrial and urban symbiosis in the Gävleborg region by bringing together companies, public sector and research around the development of more efficient and environmentally friendly solutions through networking, education and facilitation.

The platform

Industrial and Urban Symbiosis (IUS) is a strategic approach to increase resource productivity through collaboration. The strategy is based on long-term collaborations between actors and sectors that increase the value of underutilized resources and promote environmental innovation. IUS improves companies' competitiveness, reduces emissions and the use of primary and fossil resources, while strengthening regional development and resource security.

Gävle University is developing a platform to facilitate the creation of long-term collaborations between local and regional actors to enable a more efficient use of materials, energy and other available resources both in the industrial and urban context.

Such collaborations can contribute to improve the environmental performance, increase the profits, stimulate technological innovation and help the regional development and overall sustainability.

We aim to develop a network in which companies, public institutions, industrial organizations and other key actors can interact, identify obstacles and opportunities to collaborate and find innovative ways to increase the value of underutilized material, energy and resources.

GENIUS aims at a better understanding of existing IUS networks as well as at contributing to the development of new networks and of innovative IUS initiatives and business models in the direction of a more circular economy.

Purpose of our research is also to share information about other IUS networks and increase awareness and opportunities for synergies. Through industrial symbiosis, local and regional actors can collaborate and jointly create economic and environmental benefits.

In order to disseminate information about IUS and share the experiences with a wider audience, we arrange workshops, seminars and distribute a monthly newsletter.

For some of our activities and research projects we collaborate with SNIUS (the Swedish Network for Industrial and Urban Symbiosis), Chalmers Industriteknik, Linköping University and Re:Source

Overview of the region

Gävleborg County is located on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea and has about 300,000 inhabitants. The region has historically been an industrial area, known for its steel-metal industry and engineering industry. At present, this region is home to companies belonging to the steel-metal industry, engineering industry, business services, pulp industry, wood products industry and many other relevant sectors such as healthcare and logistics.

For a more detailed analysis of the regional industrial texture read more here

Despite the industrial presence in the region, there are unfortunately very few examples of network involving diverse range of symbiotically connected private and public sector actors (One of these examples is in Gävle and is depicted in the diagram below). The lack of synergies shows the enormous potential that lay within the region and that we aim to reach also through our work.

An industrial symbiosis network in Gävle - data form Linköping University

An industrial symbiosis network in Gävle - data form Linköping University


We are interested in the development of any kind of IUS initiative and the collaborations can take place by using

  • Residues from one company as raw materials to another
  • Infrastructure for supply and service
  • Knowledge to stimulate innovation

We are currently focusing on the following topics:


The food companies represents Sweden's third largest industry and are the geographically most dispersed industry. During the last 30 years, despite the increase in the Swedish population, the food production has not increased enough to satisfy the need of the same percentage of Swedish inhabitants. At the same time the amount of food waste produced only in the households has increased to ca 100kg/person and to 30kg/person in the rest of the food related activities.

To improve the food production, the processing and the food waste reduction and reuse, it can be beneficial to develop industrial collaborations that help with diversify the production while at the same time improving the production efficiency and the use of the resource.

For instance, the development of local processing businesses can help reducing the environmental impact of long distance transport while making the development of new production business more sustainable and at the same time more profitable and reducing the share of imported goods.

Symbiosis can also help reduce the food waste from the production, manufacturing and distribution industry and contribute to a better management of the consumption food waste. This can lead to the production of secondary food products for human or animal consumption, valuable chemicals and nutrients but also biofuels and fertilizers, helping reduce the depletion of natural resources and increase the overall sustainability of the food sector.

Currently there are very few regional initiatives towards a better use of food waste with a huge economic and environmental loss. This void offers a huge opportunity for industrial development, business establishment and innovative solutions and represents an enormous potential to build new business models that we can reach through collaborations and symbiosis.

GENIUS activities focus on creating of a regional network of the industries and stakeholder involved in the food sector and on map of the current food and food waste regional flow.

This will help identify obstacles and opportunities for IUS and stimulate solutions and business model to support the development of new initiatives towards a sustainable food production, processing, distribution, consumption and by-products further use.

Among the areas that we are investigating in more details there are fermented beverages, meat and dairy production.

The research is in collaboration with MatVärden.

Construction masses

Building cities, roads and other infrastructure requires enormous amounts of resources in the form of energy and both heavy and light materials. In addition, construction processes and other industrial processes give rise to large amounts of waste.

A significant environmental benefit will come from making construction processes as resource-efficient as possible also considering that many mineral waste and residual products are technically well suited for use in construction and civil engineering work.

Two clear examples of this are ashes from energy production and demolition concrete. Although there is little doubt that these materials can be used to a large extent from a purely technical point of view in today's construction processes, this only happens to a limited extent and often in a relatively low-value application.

Our research focuses on construction and demolition waste production, flow and further use. It also aims to find solutions for other waste use in new constructions in order to gain a commercial advantage in addition to environmental benefit.

The study is open to any interested stakeholder, both private and public. It will be developed in collaboration with Region Gävleborg, Novus Ecosystems, Peab, Cementa, Swerock and RgsNordic.

The project will analyse existing and planned construction projects to identify:

  • Material needs in new construction
  • Material surpluses from new construction
  • Material produced from planned demolition
  • Other waste material to use in new constructions

This will help evaluate potential symbiosis from economic, social and environmental perspectives as well as best available technologies.


Greenhouses use many different resources to maximize their production. In the region, there are thoughts and ideas about combining future greenhouse facilities with flows from industries in order to streamline resource use in this way. In this project, we focus on evaluating the environmental and economic consequences of several possible interactions between a digestion plant and a greenhouse. Examples of interactions are that the greenhouse can use the products from the digestion plant, ie. biogas, digestate and carbon dioxide, while the digestion plant can use the organic waste from the greenhouse as a raw material in its production.

For more information, contact:
Daniel Danevad eller Sandra Carlos-Pinedo

Biogas and fertilizers

The BIOVÄX Gävleborg project wants to contribute to increasing regional biogas production and the use of substrates to handle the transition to a bio-based and circular economy. The goal is to increase the knowledge of regional small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the biogas value chain how biogas can contribute to the development of technical, environmental, economic and social solutions that promote their business operations. The project is primarily aimed at those SMEs that are in the process of, or have the potential to start, biogas production.

Read more about Bioväx


Plastic is widely used in today's society. The plastic has the possibility of being manufactured with different properties, which means that it is a useful material with several areas of use. However, in the event of incorrect handling at the end of use, it contributes to a negative environmental and climate impact. Today, a large proportion of plastic goes directly to incineration for energy recovery. As 98% of all plastic is made from oil, the plastic contributes significant carbon dioxide emissions both in the production of plastic raw materials and in incineration. But there are several ways to go about reducing this negative impact from the use of plastic. Examples of some of the measures applied were;

  • Reduce usage
  • Increase the use of recycled and renewable plastic
  • Substitute for other materials

An important lesson that came out of the project is that it is possible to make major changes by taking an inventory of its plastic flows and changing procurement criteria.

This report summarizes the project Jakten på plasten with its activities and results. The purpose of the report is to disseminate the experiences and working methods that the project has worked on during the project. The report is aimed at those who want to know more about how a business can work to achieve sustainable plastic use.

The project and the material are financed by Klimatklivet. The project took place between October 2018 and May 2020. Participants in the project were the University of Gävle, Region Gävleborg, Gävle municipality, Gästrike recyclers, Sodexo and Jobmeal.

In addition to this report, there is also educational material that has been produced in order to give you basic knowledge about plastic, concrete tips and a way of working on how you can work towards a sustainable use of plastic.

For more information contact Anna Högberg

Are you as interested in finding out more about industrial and urban symbiosis??

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Project Manager

Daniele Silvestro
Phone: +46 26 648277

Published by: Camilla Haglund Page responsible: Gunilla Mårtensson Updated: 2023-03-09
Högskolan i Gävle
Box 801 76 GÄVLE
026-64 85 00 (växel)