ARTES goes back to TUNISIA

Starting April 2014 ARTES began to work for the realisation of an advanced research cluster in Tunisia, and has already drafted the first agreements in collaboration with local firms, and research and development institutes. Lilia Infelise, President of ARTES, visited again the country from October 11 until 17 with the aim of tightening these collaborations and carry on the project. During the meetings further developments of the project Ginestra were discussed, along with the participation of the Tunisian partners to the other international projects that ARTES is leading in the framework of European-African cooperation.

ENISo Ecole National d’Ingenieurs de Sousse

ENISO OCT 12 (2)

The first meeting was with the ENISo team, working on the project for the new biorefinery plant for Ginestra and focused on some planning details and improvements of the final report redacted by the team on the preliminary study.

Later on Lilia Infelise had a meeting with Prof. Zoubeir Tourki, Director of ENISo. This meeting allowed both sides to express their willingness to continuing to cooperate and possibly to install a pilot plant in Tunisia. The Director also said he will present both the report and the idea for the pilot plant at the next Forum de Convergence, on December 2.

University of Monastir

The new Head of Research Hatem Dhaouadi, along with Farouk Mhenni, former Director of the Applied Chemistry and Environment of the Faculty of Science, welcomed Lilia Infelise and introduced her to some of the research team members. Then Lilia Infelise made a presentation about the State of Art of Ginestra for all the staff members.

Later on, in a private meeting with the top representatives of the University, Lilia discussed the possibility of a formal collaboration on the project Ginestra and the University expressed interest in joining the European-African KBBE agreement promoted by ARTES within its international network of universities, research centres and firms.

The firms

The first meeting with the Tunisian entrepreneurs was also held in Monastir, with Fadhel Gassab, Director of ETex, who expressed great interest in the possible cooperation with Italian firms involved with textile finishing and dyeing, as well as in supporting the technological cluster promoted by ARTES.


Afterwards, Rachid Zarrad, Director of International Relations for the entrepreneurial group SARTEX, welcomed Lilia Infelise and showed her around the company, while they discussed cooperation opportunities for the training of human resources and the firm’s social policies. With 3500 employees, SARTEX is the biggest Tunisian firm for jeans manufacturing and relies on an integrated process involving all the phases from the purchase of textiles to the finishing, up to the delivery of the labelled product to big Italian brands. The finishing and dyeing division is especially advanced, with high tech machinery and automated processes.





RESTARTING FROM SOUTH – The meetings and the results





sustexnet logo final logo EU logo ENPI logo Regione Autonoma Sardegna


Between July 27th and 29th, ARTES realised the dense program of meetings that had been planned for months. The leaders of research and industry from all over the Mediterranean basin had the chance to come together both in formal meetings and informal situations, which facilitated the creation of small discussion groups for deeper insights on specific topics and the evaluation of new forms of cooperation. As usual, ARTES is glad to publish the presentations and a report enriched with images, in order to allow our followers to be a part of our initiatives.

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Day one: ARSAC and ENEA-Trisaia

On July 27 ARTES led the foreign partners of the project Ginestra, from Lodz (Poland) and Sousse (Tunisia), and the researchers of the Italian company Tintoria Emiliana, to the discover of the local laboratories and the research centres, where the same project Ginestra is carried out: the ARSAC centre of San Marco Argentano and the ENEA-Trisaia complex. Meanwhile, the partners of the project SUSTEXNET, who had landed the day before in Bari, were visiting firms in Puglia.

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In the evening, thanks to the cooperation of the municipality of Altomonte and particularly of its mayor Giuseppe Laetano, the two groups met in order to explore the history and the artistic beauty of Altomonte. The partners also enjoyed a delicious meal made of local products and a magnificent view on the town, both provided by Hotel Barbieri.


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Day two: the Seminar

On the 28 the partners opened their discussions to the public thanks to the seminar “NEW NETWORKS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN: THE FASHION INDUSTRY RESTARTS FROM SOUTH” held in Altomonte, in the Serragiumenta Castle. Among the results, the confrontation of new realities and the foundation of new valuable partnerships: the main actors of the fashion industry are now ready to accept the new challenges of competitiveness, armoured with the shared experiences and in a perspective of environmental sustainability and respect of local specificities. In this regard, the presentations of two entrepreneurs from Calabria were particularly relevant: Vicenzo Linarello of Cangiari and Emilio Salvatore Leo of Lanificio Leo showed their experiences in innovating while respecting both the environment and the ancient textile traditions of Calabria.

More information on the Open Seminar available here.

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Their presentations took place in the morning, after the welcome by ARTES, UNICAL and the institutional representatives of Calabria. The morning session was chaired by IVACE (the Valencian Institute for Industrial Competitiveness, Spain) and focused on the project SUSTEXNET, its results, and the sustainable models of competitiveness in the Mediterranean. Among the speakers of this session: Lilia Infelise, President and Founder of ARTES; Piero De Sabbata of ENEA, and Liliana Lodi of Tintoria Emiliana.


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The afternoon session was chaired by Lilia Infelise, and focused on the textile value chain in Southern Italy thanks to the presentation of experts such as Olimpia Ferrara, Researcher of SRM – Studi e Ricerche sul Mezzogiorno and Emilio Sergio, Professor at the University of Calabria. The seminar ended with a discussing among the participants and a social dinner that the mayor of Tarsia, Lawyer Roberto Ameruso, and a delegation of the local government also enjoyed. The suggestive scenery of the Serragiumenta Castle, Altomonte, hosted all the activities of the day.


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The speeches

OSCAR CALVO – Introduction to SUSTEXNET project and preliminary results

LILIA INFELISE – Competitive models in the Mediterranean: a comparative analysis of the T&C system in Egypt, Italy, Spain and Tunisia

PIERO DE SABBATA – A sectorial approach to benchmarking and Energy Efficiency best practices towards SMEs: the EM2M experience in Italy

EMILIO SALVATORE LEO – Lanificio Leo: tradition as engine for innovation (link al video)

VINCENZO LINARELLO – The GOEL Group: the ethics of competitive efficiency (link al video)

LUIGI BATTEZZATI – Supply chain of fashion: how to improve the environmental impact of transport and logistics

OLIMPIA FERRARA – The Southern Italy that innovates and produces: the textile, clothing and footwear chain

EMILIO SERGIO – The relationship between industry and craftmanship: the Calabria case study


Day three: the SUSTEXNET meeting

On the 29 the partners of the SUSTEXNET project gathered for a closed-doors meeting in order to discuss the results and to plan a dense work agenda, including many international meetings in Spain, Egypt, Tunisia and, again, in Italy, until the end of the project in December 2015.


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The results, the conclusions and the perspectives

After these three intense working days, hosted by the municipalities and the stunning landscapes of Altomonte, Spezzano Albanese and Tarsia, the partners of the two projects are ready to draw their conclusions and plan the next steps. New and interesting possibilities for cooperation have arisen, along with new potential alliances; all the actors involved agreed that fragile regions such as Calabria must not be abandoned, but supported and granted a fresh start fuelled by their invaluable human, cultural, and natural heritage. The support of the local community and press was also exceptional: everyone showed great interest for the initiaves and welcomed the foreign partners as allies, opening to them the gate of their land, too often forsaken.


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Green partnerships for the Textile & Clothing Industry in the heart of the Mediterranean

Our work

ARTES is currently at the centre of multiple operations with one purpose: increasing competitiveness of fragile and peripheral territories and creating sustainable jobs through businesses creation and enhancement, with special focus on SMEs and while pursuing green innovation and social sustainability. All of this, thanks to international partnerships involving civil society, research centres, universities, and the private sector.

In ARTES’ view, Science and Industry must join their forces in order to create a green future for the planet: a future where the natural resources are used wisely and efficiently. The purpose is to create a world where everyone, in every corner of the Earth, would have the chance to pursue his/her happiness and the chance to contribute to the economic and social development of his/her own territory.

It is a hard work, to be done day-by-day and step-by-step. But as a Chinese proverb says: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.”

The meetings

From July 26 until July 29 the beautiful hills and lowlands of Altomonte, Spezzano Albanese, and Tarsia, in Calabria, will be the crossroad for leaders from research labs and companies form all over Europe and North Africa. They will come together to discuss the results and the future of two initiatives.

One is SUSTEXNET, a project focused on sustainability and competitiveness of the Mediterranean Textile and Clothing industry and funded by the EU programme ENPI CBC MED. Started in January 2014, it will end in December 2015. Leaders of research centres, business associations, and companies form Egypt, Italy, Spain, Tunisia will start their journey from Bari. Upon their arrival, on July 26, ARTES team will welcome them and on July 27 the partners will be visiting the leading Textile & Clothing companies, then proceed to Calabria. They will meet in Serragiumenta Castle, where on July 28 they will discuss cooperation strategies in an open seminar organised with the cooperation of UNICAL. Namely, the two departments involved are those that signed with ARTES frame agreements for the development of international programmes: the Department of Business Administration and Law and the Department of Humanities.

The final meeting will be on July 29 and will be reserved to the partners. All the details about the international seminar of July 28 are available on this webpage.

The other project is Ginestra, co-funded by ARTES and Programme Calabriainnova of Regione Calabria, and aimed at developing a multipurpose bio-refinery pilot plant for the extraction of bio chemicals and fibres from Mediterranean shrubs. The starting point is the Ginestra, a marvellous golden flower growing in driest territories all over the Mediterranean; the research extends to the Alfa plant, which grows all over millions of hectares across North Africa and Spain and prevents the desertification of those lands. Companies and research labs from Poland, Tunisia, and Italy will meet July 27 in Serragiumenta Castle to discuss the results of one year of joint efforts and to start developing a plan for the industrialisation of the processes, and selecting the most promising new products. The closed-meeting will be between the members of the research teams.

On the evening of the 27, the groups will join in the magnificent square by the Cathedral of Altomonte.

The locations

The meetings, including the open seminar on July 28 will take place at the Castle of Serragiumenta (Altomonte), a suggestive medieval palace surrounded by olive trees and overlooking a beautiful valley. The area offers the possibility to hike in the nature, horse riding, or to join one of the excursions offered by the management of the Castle. The old town of Altomonte is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.





Altomonte is part of the province of Cosenza, another town with a medieval heart that offers countless cultural and entertaining activities. The old town of Cosenza is by itself a suggestive walk through history.





The Castle was most likely built in the IX century from the Byzantines, on the top of the highest hill of the town as a defense against the Saracen and stood through all the wars and civilizations that came afterwards.





The Dome is so ancient that the exact date of the construction is still unknown, and was declared UNESCO World Heritage Centre in 2001.





The Museum of Bretti and Enotri , with its permanent archaeological collection and the frequent exhibitions offers a deep insight into the civilisations that ruled over the area throughout the centuries, from the Hellenistic period until the Italian Unification.

More archaeological treasures can be found in the Museum of Sybaris.

The area also offers the opportunity for horse riding, rafting on the Lao river, or relaxing at the thermal spring of the Nymphs Cave.



Project Ginestra enters the second phase – Activating Innovation

The Background

After almost 15 years at the lead of the project Ginestra and a patented bio-refinery process, ARTES and its international network of laboratories and universities are about to scale up to pilot production. Thanks to the funding from the Region of Calabria, the research is now heading towards the industrialisation of the already discovered enzymatic process and the extension of the same process to other Mediterranean shrubs besides the Spartium Juniceum. A part of the research will also focus on the possible extraction of biochemicals and biomaterials from the waste resulting from the main process, and their potential for other applications. This task is in the hands of ARTES’ Polish partners at the IBWCH – Institute of Biopolymers and Chemical Fibres in Lodz.

Among the protagonists of this second part of the project, and in charge of a fully automated biorefinery pilot plant, are ARTES’ Tunisian partners ENISo – Ecole Nationale d’Ingénieurs de Sousse and ATI ENGINEERING, whose representatives came to Italy last week for a Study Visit.

The Study Visit

The delegation was composed by:

The organisers Lilia Infelise and Sergio Tinelli, respectively President and Co-Founder of ARTES;

Ahmed KTARI, Dr.-Ing. in Materials engineering and Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering by ENISo

Sabrine IBRAHIM, Student in Mechatronics Engineering and Design of Mechatronic Systems

Omar CHAHATA, Mechanical Engineer at ATI ENGINEERING and former ENISo Student.

Marzo Maiocchi, Antonio Mauro, Enrico Lapadula representatives of ATI ENGINEERING.

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Program of the Visit


 Monday, May 11

ENISo and ATI ENGINEERING landed at Marconi Airport from Tunis and together with the ARTES team, they drove to the laboratories of Active Cells, inside the Centre for Advanced Biotechnologies of Genoa. Giancarlo Dondo, chair of Active Cells, and his team welcomed them and introduced the key activities of the laboratory and results achieved in the project. The ENISo team illustrated the pilot plant project, and the whole team discussed on key strategic decision about the technological solutions.

11:05 active cells


Tuesday, May 12

The Tunisian Delegation and the ARTES team joined the Leader of the agronomic component of the project, Prof. Amaducci (UNICAT – Piacenza) and prof. Federico Preti (University of Florence) to discuss the five pilot experimental locations for the cultivation and harvesting of Ginestra in Italy. The meeting took place in the suggestive Park of Monte Sole, a historical site on the hills surrounding Bologna. After a brunch served in a lovely countryside atmosphere, the delegation visited the bio-refinery labs of the DICAM – UNIBO, accompanied by prof. Lorenzo Bertini from UNIBO.

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Wednesday, May 13

The delegation flew to Calabria, where it took some time to discuss the first days of work, plan the following, and met with local stakeholders.


Thursday, May 14

In the morning, the delegation visited the Experimental Demonstration Centre ARSAC -CDS in San Marco Argentano (CS), location of the first generation bio-refinery pilot plant patented in 2008. Later on, the delegation headed to the research centre of ENEA – TRISAIA and was welcomed by Giacobbe Braccio, head of the centre and accompanied by a team of technologists visited laboratories.

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Study Visit in EAC – Bujumbura and Nairobi

Two more days in Bujumbura

On February 23rd, after the workshop the Italian delegation and Prof. Déo Gratias Nkihamira (President of the Italian – Burundian association Africa Renaissance Time) visited the EU Delegation for a meeting with Head of the Rural Development, Infrastructure and Energy Department Paul Vossen and the  Project Manager for Infrastructure Egide Niyogusaba. The discussion focused on the instrument of Delegated Cooperation, on the presentation of the Excellence Centre in the Field of Construction Technologies and Materials – CRTM, and it’s introduction in the next Strategic Programme, to be approved in April. A further step for the realisation of the CRTM in EAC would be visiting the EU Delegation in Dar Es Saalam.

Starting from February 24th, the Delegation engaged directly with the territory: the agreement with the DICAM for the realisation of the CRTM was written down in detail and presented to the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Equipment. The Delegation visited the laboratories at the Ministry and at the University of Bujumbura, as well as the areas along the river Rusizi and on the shores of the Tanganyika Lake. The field visit led to a specific agreement with the University of Florence, for the study of appropriate methods and technologies for the management of hydrogeological hazard and conservation of the landscape of the hill area next to the city of Bujumbura. During these days the Delegation also studied the local context and identified the primary need in terms of energy.





The last leg: Kenya

On February 26th the Delegation reached Nairobi, where it almost immediately met with the representatives of the ABSF (African Biotechnology Stakeholders Forum), led by Kennedy Oyugi, Director of Scinnovent Centre and representative of CABE (African Bio-Entrepreneurship). ARTES presented the project N4F and invited the ABSF to the next study visit in Tunisia, where a specific agreement for the realisation of the project has already been signed.

The next day started with a meeting at EU Delegation in Kenya, represented by Sanne Willems and Anne Chaussavoine (both Programme Manager Infrastructure Section). Again, ARTES and its partners presented the project for the Burundian CRTM, discussed the regional strategy for the EAC and the Delegated Cooperation. The Italian Delegation also remarked that the priority will be given to the Energy sector, and responsible for the coordination of this action will be the EU Delegation in Dar Es Salaam, while the EU Delegation in Kenya would have a national focus.




Right after the first meeting the Italian Delegation visited the Italian Embassy in Nairobi and met with the Ambassador Mauro Massoni, the Sales Executive Paolo Rotili, and Rita Ricciardi, the President of the Italian – Kenyan Trade Association. ARTES, remarking the specificity of the country and its great potential for a bilateral cooperation with Italy, suggested the possibility of realising in Kenya the project N4F and to create in the EAC a network of excellence centres, placing the centre for Energy in Kenya and the one for Technology of Materials and Constructions in Burundi.




Later on, the Italian Delegation was welcomed at EACCIA – East Africa Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture, by Charles Kahuthu, CEO and Regional Coordinator. During the meeting the long exchange started in March 2014 at the EU – African Business Forum was consolidated, and the following topics were discusses: EACCIA support to the CRTM as national and international centre of excellence, to be built in Burundi in order to avoid a duplication of the efforts; the creation of a regional seminary, in cooperation with all the stakeholders and aimed at present the possibility of financing the research driven cluster N4F in Kenya.


The last meeting of the day, and of the mission, was again with Rita Ricciardi (President of the Italian – Kenyan Trade Association) and David Kimosop, CEO of Kerio Development Authority (public development agency for North Kenya). The meeting concerned the possibility of organising a study visit in Italy for a better insight on ARTES’ on going projects ALLIANCE e N4F, as well as an in depth discussion with Rita Ricciardi about the internationalisation of Italian enterprises, and the possibility of a Memorandum of Understanding with ARTES for the creation of a joint venture in the field of internationalisation in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Report (EN) Study Visit in EAC – 22-27 FEBR 2015

Report (ITA) – Vista di Studio in EAC – 22-27 FEBR 2015

Study Visit in EAC: the Workshop

The Arrival in Bujumbura

The delegation landed in Bujumbura on Sunday: Giulio Castelli (UNIFI) and Vincenzo D’Agostino (OMNIA ENERGIA) at 1PM, while Tommaso Trombetti (UNIBO-DICAM) and Lilia Infelise (ARTES) arrived in the evening. They’ve been welcomed by the usual tropical heat and by Déo Gratias Nkinahamira, President of ART and one of the mission’s most committed partners. The long flight to Burundi served to ultimate the presentations, the material for the workshop and the challenging days of work to come.

The Workshop – Establishment of a research center for technology and building materials for civil engineering

The workshop location was the Sun Safari Club Hotel, and sponsored by the Burundian firm Robuco e and the Italian-Tunisian company ATI Engineering.  The day started as early as 8.30AM, with the welcome reception and the welcome speeches of Prof. Déo Gratias Nkinahamira, President of Africa Renaissance Time and moderator of the whole workshop, and Prof. Déogratias Rurimunzu, University of Bujumbura and former Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Equipment. Right after, Lilia Infelise, Head of the Italian delegation held the introductory speech. Below, the text in French, English and Italian.

Allocution – Bujumbura 23 Février 2015 (FR)
Introductory Speech – Bujumbura February 23rd 2015 (EN)
Allocuzione – Bujumbura 23 Febbraio 2015 (ITA)


Was then time for the opening speech from Ir. Nestor Barasokoroza, General Director of Equipment Coordination at the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Equipment, followed by a short break and the introduction of all the participants. Besides the Italian delegation, the Burundian authorities and academics, a member of the European Delegation in Burundi attended the workshop.



The second part of the morning was focused on the state of the Burundian infrastructures and issues related to the city of Bujumbura and the construction materials in general. First it was viewed a documentary film on infrastructure and assessment of the state of implementation of the recommendations of the past seminars regarding infrastructure, then Prof. Jean Marie Sabushimike (Expert of the Environment at the University of Burundi) presented the issues of MIRWA and their consequences on the City of Bujumbura. Last intervention before the lunch break was about the issues of building materials in Burundi, by Prof. Simuzeye Théodose, Université du Burundi, Départment des sciences de la terre, followed by a discussion about the morning topics. The two presentations are available in French.

CRTM – Exposé Simuzeye -Materiaux de Construction 24-02-2015



The first part of the afternoon was dedicated to the presentations of the italian delegation coordinated by Prof. Déo Gratias Nkinahamira. In order: ARTES by Prof. Lilia Infelise (download here: ARTES PPT Presentation February 23rd (EN)); UNIFI – GESAAF and UNINA – CIRAM by Dott. Giulio Castelli (UNIFI UNINA Presentation and research activities (EN)); UNIBO DICAM by Prof. Tommaso Trombetti (DICAM_PRESENTATION _BUJUMBURA 23 FEBR 2015); OMNIA ENERGIA by Ir. Vincenzo D’Agostino.

After the presentations there was room for a short debate and the intervention Anatole Nzigamasabo, owner of the sponsoring company Robuco and President of the Chamber of Commerce (CFCIB). After that, Prof. Lilia Infelise presented the New cooperation programs of the European Union and the new financial instruments of the MDBs Development, downloadable here (in English).


The workshop ended with the closing speeches by Ir. Nestor Barasokoroza, Prof. Déo Gratias Nkinahmira and Prof. Déogratias Rurimunzu.



Study Visit in EAC – Background and Purposes

The Old Way

Wolfsburg, VW Autowerk

We always hear people say that the world is changing, but we rarely see their ideas change along with it: we are so accustomed to believe that innovation happens exclusively by breakthrough that if we don’t see something disruptive, we don’t see the change at all. We talk about it like it’s about to happen and we fail to notice that it’s already happening.

This kind of thinking is also the reason why for decades it was believed that the only way to help less developed countries was show them the Western path of industrialisation and wait for them to catch up. It was also thought that, both in the industrialised and developing economies, the Governments were not meant to intervene in the market dynamics, because the economic forces of competition, supply, and demand would sort themselves out and automatically bring the system to the maximum possible level of welfare.

The Economic Crisis of 2008, however, made unequivocally clear that technological and productive system must change because the traditional approach to innovation and development fails to consider a wide range of real world dynamics. First of all, innovation is rarely disruptive: it rather incremental. Second, the Western industrialisation model is specific to Western countries in a certain phase of Western history, and might bring different results, or even fail, in different historical, cultural and environmental conditions. Finally, in reality the free market doesn’t work quite as smoothly as the Neoliberal Economists thought and the inherent market failures distort competition, diffusion of knowledge and distribution of welfare, driving the system way off the optimum.


The New Course and its funding

What has been done until now to sustain international development is invaluable, however, it is now widely accepted by the international community that the approach must evolve, in a sustainable and inclusive way, that integrates the interventions of public and private sectors and pursues long term endogenous economic growth and environmental sustainability. Along with the new principles, new financial instruments have been developed.

The World Bank recently launched a program called Competitive Industries and Innovation Program, aimed at financing country initiatives for innovation and competitiveness of the private sector, involving not only clean technologies and environmentally sustainable development, but also the establishment of a new growth paradigm that would allow the country to sustain itself economically and socially. Similarly, starting from 2009 the European Union realigned the policies for cooperation and development and support of the European competitiveness with the principles of environmental sustainability and cross-sectorial integration. It also created new instruments for funding international development, such as the delegated cooperation, that allows a more efficient allocation of the resources. A third and more traditional way to fund the projects are the calls for proposals and tenders from EuropeAid, that also nominated 2015 the European Year for Development, dedicating each month to a specific issue, and the other Multilateral Funds. Finally, the Concerned Governmental Institutions from the beneficiary countries, primarily the Ministers of Finances and Economic Developments, are also entitled to negotiate funding with any of these entities.


Our Position

This new approach to development aligns entirely with the work that ARTES has been doing for the last two decades, and plans to keep on doing in the future. In fact In the framework of the action A4IArtes for Internationalisation, ARTES is developing a programme for the internationalisation of Italian and European excellence know-how in the fields of constructions, materials, water, energy, agroindustry and, more in general, in the field of bio economy. With the support of the new financial instruments and the policies that international organisation such as the EU are shaping, ARTES intends to bring a substantial contribution to the reconstruction and endogenous growth of fragile areas.

Most of the work is currently taking place in two areas: Tunisia and the East African Community (EAC, which includes Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, United Republic of Tanzania and Republic of Uganda). In Tunisia, ARTES already teamed up with the local actors for the project Nzymes4future, that aims at the creation of research-driven cluster start-up in the field of biotechnologies and eco design, and Alliance, concerning the development of enterprises and job creation in the rural areas. The framework of these projects is also potentially transferable to Kenya. Besides possible transferring the existing projects, in the EAC ARTES together with DICAM – University of Bologna  have established a partnership with Local Govenmental and Private Institutions to create a research center for civil constructions and materials, and possibly water and energy, as well as a school for the professionals of the energy field.




The Mission in EAC

Concerning this second area, ARTES and its partners have just left for a study visit in order to define new partnerships with the local actors and draft a plan for the creation the research center, on the blue print of the one of the University of Bologna. Based in the area of Bujumbura, in Burundi, the center would be serving the whole EAC. The Italian delegation is composed by the representatives of a large international network of universities and enterprises specialised in the following fields: materials and construction technologies, energy, water, agro- industry and community regeneration and citizens’ awareness raising. Namely: ARTES itself, the Omnia Energia Group, and the relevant departments of the universities of Bologna, Naples and Florence.

The study visit, called “Unlocking the potential of fragile regions, achieving long term sustainable and endogenous development ”, will take place between Bujumbura and Nairobi, from the 23rd to the 27th February 2015. For us, the term fragility combines strengths and weaknesses: it doesn’t refer only to the fragility entailed by extreme economic poverty, civil wars or natural catastrophes (which is the definition of the OECD), but also includes the uniqueness of a region, and its invaluable human and natural patrimony.



coltivazione dei campi

The Italian delegation will meet with local authorities and Italian diplomats, but the highlight of the mission is the “Exchange workshop for the establishment of a research center for technology and building materials for civil engineering”. The main objectives of the workshop are to present the needs and opportunities for research in the world of Burundian business, to introduce the Italian delegation with its know-how to their Burundian counterparts and exchange experiences with them, and, finally, to strengthen existing cooperation and consider new joint working tracks for development research.

In the coming days we will keep a journal of the visit and the outcomes of the meetings, scheduled as follow.


The program


February 22nd

Arrival of the Italian delegation in Bujumbura.

February 23rd

Exchange seminar workshop on the establishment of a Research Center on Technology and Civil Engineering Building Materials – CRTM – Civil Engineering. Among the speakers: the General Manager of Facilities Coordination of Burundi, the Head of the Chamber of Commerce of the EAC, the head of the Italian delegation and founder of ARTES, the Burundian Minister of Transport, Public Works and Infrastructure, and members of the Italian and African universities and network of partners. This workshop is realised with the financial aid of, ATI Engineering and ROBUCO.

After the workshop the Italian delegtio will have a m eeting with the Head of EU delegation in Burundi, meeting with Paul Vossen, Head of the Rural Development, Infrastructures and Energy Section.

February 24th

In the morning the Italian delegation will meet with  the Minister of Transport , Public Works and Infrastructure, Hon. Virginie Ciza, followed by team work for the finalisation the CRTM agreement and develop a new agreement concerning project for the assessment and mitigation of the flood risk for Bujumbura area and other topics that might emerge during the discussion. A lunch break with visit to the lake Tanganyika – Hotel club du lac is also scheduled for the early afternoon.

February 25th

Meeting ant the Ministry of Transport to finalise the agreements and discussion about the involvement of the Department of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Systems of the University of Florence and the Interdepartmental Research Centre for Environment – CIRAM of the University of Naples in a project for the assessment and mitigation of the flood risk for Bujumbura area. The discussion held led the General Director of Equipment Coordination at the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Equipment to extend the involvement to the whole Burundi, starting from the Bujumbura area which faces and emergency situation. Writing of an official invitation letter to start a collaboration with the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Equipment was sent to GESAAF from the Coordination. The collaboration will be about flood and hydraulic risk mitigation and water management, starting from the realisation of a study for Bujumbura. The collaboration should involve CIRAM, ART and ARTES, in addition to the Ministry. In the afternoon Dott. Giulio Castelli will visit the urban rivers in Bujumbura, while Omnia Energy will visit the University.

 February 26th

Departure from Bujumbura and arrival in Nairobi, Kenya. In the afternoon, the delegation will visit the African Biotechnology Stakeholders Forum with Mr. Kennedy Oyugi, Director of Scinnovent Centre and a representative of CABE (Afrian Bio-Entrepreneuship).

 February 27th

In the morning there will be the visit to the EU delegation, where there will be the meeting with theProgramme Managers Infrastructures Section Sanne Willems  and Anne Chaussavoine. Later on the delegation will visit the Italian embassy for a meeting with the Ambassodor Egr. Mauro Massoni, Mr. Paolo Rotili – Commerce Official, Dr. Rita Ricciardi – President Association for Italy and Kenya Commerce. In the afternoon, is scheduled a visit to EACCIA – East Africa Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture and a meeting wit Mr. Cahrles Kahuthu, Regional Coordinator, Member of the Steering Committee. Just before the departure Lilia Infelise and Tomaso Trombetti will meet wirth Rita Ricciardi and David Kimosop, Managing Director /CEO of the Kerio Valley Development Authority.

The whole delegation will depart from Kenya during the late afternoon and evening.

On the track of Stipa Tenacissima – Third Journey in Tunisia, December 2014


I am traveling throughout Europe and North Africa to call attention and promote interest by public and private actors in Europe and MENA countries and foster convergence of  interests and funds  on ARTES initiative for an Africa  – Europe cooperation in the field of bio economy.

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Last June ARTES has signed a partnership agreement  with  Tunisian Universities and companies which aims at introducing a new growth paradigm through piloting a research driven cluster start up focused on bio economy, in fragile peripheral regions, such as Gafsa and Kasserine, in the larger horizon of a Mediterranean stabilisation and cooperation strategy.

This revolutionary approach envisages green technology and art as the engine for an accelerated job and enterprise  creation initiative in the peripheral  landlocked regions of Gafsa and Kasserine.

If we succeed in the implementation, it would have real positive repercussions on employment, on economic development and on innovation in these areas, but it needs a wise awareness raising campaign to mobilise the key actors. Without local partners and institutions sharing our view and our efforts, it would be impossible to implement concrete solutions and have success in the long term.

To this aim, on the 2nd of December I visit Tunisia for the third time.

Wednesday 3nd, Sousse

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I arrive at Tunis Carthage around noon and the driver bring me straight to Sousse, where I meet Marzio Maiocchi, president of ATI Engineering  and my assistant, Leonardo Franceschi, who’s staying in Tunisia for two months  to follow more closely the current projects of Artes, in Tunisia. We have few hours to brief and to prepare my speech for the following day. I have been invited to speak to the Forum de Convergeance (, an important annual meeting organised by ENISo (the National Institute of Engineers of Sousse) under the leadership of Zoubeir Tourki, the young and charismatic director of the school.



Under the motto: to be wired or not to be, the forum is aimed at connecting with each other representatives of institutions, education and enterprises from within and outside the country,such as Artes, ATi Engineering, ALTAIR and many others.

ENISo  is located in a modern building equipped with laboratories and an incubator space which hosts more than 130 spin offs. A leading Tunisian institute in the field of robotics, mechatronics, and automation is the  preferred destination of  bright and committed students who are prepared to take the lead of their country.

The school is eager to gain international attention and to acquire innovative know-how, and the director is thus very inclined to collaborate with us in our research project on the fibre of ginestra (Spartium Junceum) ( ENISO will contribute to the “scale-up” of the pilot biorafinery plant for the treatment of the ‘Ginestra’ in close cooperation with ATI Engineering putting at the disposal of the ARTES international team of researchers their  well equipped laboratories and a duly selected team of students and professors specialised in robotics and mecatronics. The partnership would give us the chance to enter in the Tunisian market and investigate the possibility to apply our patented technology to the local plant of Alfa. We present the project in our stand and I make my speech, in front of crowded audience and at the presence of the Minister of Higher Education, Research and ICT and the Ambassador of Germany in Tunisia.
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Thursday 4rd, Monastir

The day after we participate to the seminar of the European project SUSTEXNET (, organised by our Tunisian partner Cettex, in the luxurious hotel and spa Thalassa.



The event is addressed to the Tunisian Textile community of entrepreneurs to present the Comparative Analysis of the textile and apparel industry in the SUSTEXNET partners countries (Italy, Egypt, Spain and Tunisia) ( The event is aimed at giving start to the direct company studies and interventions phase, envisaged by the European project.

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It is a unique occasion for me to listen to the voice of Tunisian entrepreneurs who take active part to the event and give me a clear and real picture of the industry needs and perspectives.  Development of competences of employees at any level emerges to be a crucial needs and as the coordinator of the comparative study and a specialist in human capital development and training  I am invited to give my point of view and to visit the companies’ facilities and give support.

Friday 5th, Sousse

On Friday,  we take a break from the meetings, working from home and preparing the travel to Gafsa to meet our partners at the Higher Institute of Arts and Crafts. We need to discuss the progress of the agreement signed and prepare a study visits of nzyme4future team of experts , scheduled January 2015.

Saturday 6th, Gafsa

We start our journey  on Saturday before dawn, after only few hours sleep, and we head to the hinterland of Tunisia on a narrowed road. As the sun raises, the landscape, slowly begin to emerge from the gloom. The panorama is vast and flat and scattered with olive plantations, which luxuriantly spring out of the arid land. The environment changes once we pass the governorate of Keirouan. The air gets filled with sand and dust, giving everything around us the appearance of being abandoned. Towns becomes rarer and traffic less heavy. The landscape is now open and beautiful, interrupted only by small buildings aggregations.





We arrive at Gafsa at 10 A.M. sharp and, after little difficulties, we find ISAM, the Higher Institute of Artes and Crafts, where we have a meeting with the director Dr. Amine Khadimallah. He is young and welcoming and he puts us at ease after the long trip. Imen Said, the coordinator of the Tunisian Piloting Team of the agreement, is connecting via Skype from Paris, while  taking part to an international research programme.

We discuss critical aspects for the success of the programme. They  confirm the great interest that our project has raised and the firm belief of its importance for the territory.  They commit to involve all key actors and primarily  students, women, entrepreneurs of all sectors, the whole local community and duly prepare the January study visit.

We  leave Gafsa with the sensation of being now in the right direction.

On the way back, we take a break in one of the many “Restaurant de campaigne”, where they serve lamb meat, grilled at the moment, and delicious traditional Tunisian sauce with bread. A simple meal in a rustic environment that gives us a real taste of Tunisia.

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Monday 8th, Tunis

On Monday we travel from Sousse to Tunisi, to meet Mr. Patrick Berckmans, Minister Consellor  at the EU delegation in Tunisia and Head of the Section for Governance, Social Development and Sustainable. My visit  in Brussels in the previous weeks and my meetings with the heads of Units at  Europe Aid are now completed by this visit to the Tunisian Delegation. The meeting is constructive and it paves the way for the next study visit in January. The support of EU is extremely important for our  programme, we need that  the EU representatives in Tunisia, the Multilateral Banks, the National Governmental Institutions, the Business and scientific world at national level, the key leaders of civil society and the press are all informed, and that they understand, share and support the partners signatories of the ‘GAFSA AGREEMENT’.

We need to walk in the same direction if we want to progress.

I leave Tunisia the day after, persuaded that in few days, an hard successful work has been done.

An intense red and golden sky accompany my departure! Come back soon to Tunisia, it seems to invite me!