Mapping of ideas developed in UFIL is organised around four main categories of activities. These categories reflect a supply chain logic and are defined in a study investigating the factors behind the development of innovations in forest-based bioeconomy (Lovrić et al., 2020). According to such categories, in UFIL are generated ideas related to the forest system (referred to as category 1 ideas), ideas related to forest biomass and raw materials (category 2 ideas) and ideas related to the secondary processing, or transformation, of forest resources (category 3 ideas). So far, the project has not generated entrepreneurial ideas related to the primary processing of forest resources (category 4 ).
In its first and second editions of the innovation lab, UFIL trained 60 people. Trainees were supported in generating ideas using a challenge-solving approach leading to the design and prototype development of a product or a service. Out of these two editions, a total of 34 entrepreneurial ideas were shaped into 21 services (62% of the ideas) and 13 products (38%). This first evidence shows how the exploitation of services is more attractive to future entrepreneurs than the exploitation of raw material, i.e., wood. This may be explained by the fact that primary and secondary wood processing or transformation require specific skills and competences, or techniques, that are not easily gained or mastered in the short time frame of a 10-month residential course.
By looking in detail at the type of entrepreneurial ideas generated by the innovation lab's participants, it is evident that activities related to the forest system (category 1) are by far the most attractive to start a new business (79% of all ideas ). If for some of these ideas the linkage with the city’s forests is key and evident, some others are horizontally relevant for any type of sector. At a distance from the most populated category 1, is the category related to the secondary processing of forest resources (category 3); 15% of the ideas generated in UFIL fall in this category. These ideas are the most technical ones. They imply the transformation of wood or wood residuals into finished products, construction material and textile fibers, all of which add value to the raw forest resources. Finally, only two ideas (6%) are found in category 2 relating to the management of forest biomass. As mentioned earlier, none of the ideas generated in UFIL fall in category 4 concerning the initial transformation of forest resources.