The sheer size of the Textile, Clothing, Leather, and Footwear (TCLF) industry is impressive and even more, its role plaid in our daily lives: besides providing cover and useful items for the quotidian, garment and textiles TCLF industry plays a vital role in culture, art and has an incredible impact on social subjects helping define who they are and aspire to be. Today, the TCLF industry is at a crossroads.


The problems to be solved are complex, systemic and of great consequence. From an ecological perspective, the textile industry is considered one of the most polluting industries in the world due to the use of harmful chemicals, high consumption of water and energy, generation of large quantities of solid and gaseous wastes, huge fuel consumption for transportation and use of non-biodegradable packaging materials (Choudhury, 2014); (

TCLF is the fourth-worst-ranked pressure category for use of primary raw materials and water (after food, housing and transport). Most of the pressures and impacts related to the consumption of Textiles, Clothing, Leather, and Footwear in Europe occur in other regions of the world, where the majority of production takes place. This is the case for 85 % of the primary raw materials use, 92 % of the water use, 93 % of the land use and 76 % of the greenhouse gas emissions. Another major environmental challenge relates to the end of the product life cycle. Textile waste is a huge problem around the globe. The majority of textile waste still ends up being incinerated or landfilled.

Large amounts of used post-consumer clothing are exported from developed countries to developing countries, for example, from Europe to Africa. That creates a challenge for local textile production, which is not able to compete with the imported used textiles. That also shifts the textile waste problem from developed countries to developing countries, adding to their environmental and waste challenges. In March 2016, the governments of the East African Community, which includes Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi, proposed a ban on imports of second-hand clothes to their regional trade bloc. While there are many traders earning a living through the sale of these donations, the governments proposing this ban argue that they will be able to create better jobs within the textile industry, more than offsetting any economic loss faced by the traders. Reducing the environmental and climate pressures and impacts from textiles production and consumption — while maintaining economic and social benefits — is at our rich but it will need a systemic deep game-change, rethinking the way TCLF industry produces and consumes.


Three key driving forces must be considered: 1. The TCLF industry must jump into the sustainable bio-economy era, which is by definition circular, circularity applied to a fossil-based production model is not the way forward; 2. Invest in research and process technology innovation based on the most advanced outreaches in environmental and industrial biotechnologies and primarily novel enzyme 3. Team up with the major developing and emerging economies which are an integral part of the value chain.


This is what the BioCRES project aims to do. BioCRES is a project concept designed by European Research labs and businesses, localised in Central European countries (Italy, Croatia, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Turkey), within the framework of Interreg Central Europe. BioCRES proposes to carry out an exemplary and highly transferable systemic action through the integrated use of Industrial biotechnologies, ICT (IA, IoT, Digital advanced communication), and Eco – Design as powerful drivers for new sustainable industrial ecosystems and fast job creation. BioCRES proposes to transform natural resource waste into entirely new bio-based products for the textile, packaging and nutraceutical markets destinated to new generation consumers in a virtuous loop with the social development of the communities.



The project endeavours to achieve this goal through the installation of a novel flexible small-scale biorefinery (combining enzyme with mild thermomechanical technologies) in pilot European rural areas as the driver of front-run innovation in circular bio-economy models with multiple effects on cross-connected industries (textile, speciality paper & packaging, nutraceutical industry ecosystems).

In particular, the multipurpose modular bio-refinery technology GINEXTRA®, already a European Registered Brand (EUIPO Registration Number 018019052), will enable integral and innovative fractionation process to produce good-quality cellulose, lignin and hemicellulose for established or newly emerging market applications.


The BioCREs project will install small biorefineries in the pilot territories to process plants and lignocellulosic waste deriving from the maintenance of natural ecosystems, fibre crops’ cultivation, and spontaneous vegetation. Local business ecosystems (bio-clusters) will emerge around the small-scale GINEXTRA® biorefineries. Such ecosystems will adhere to a social principle of sustainability which binds together aware citizenship, community identity and landscape preservation with a vibrant and fast-growing new circular bio-economy-based industry.

Forested rural areas are a valuable source of non-fossil raw materials




Forested rural areas can be a driver of the European sustainable bioeconomy model if their valuable non-fossil raw materials can be used effectively

In the circular sustainable bioeconomy perspective, forested rural areas represent a precious source of the lignocellulose and non-fossil raw materials for established or newly emerging market applications. Within the European Green Deal we need to debate and share visions on how to tap the potential of forested rural areas as a driver of the European sustainable bio-economy.

We are at the dawn of a new techno-economic system. Nowadays, the main challenge is to carry out sustainable innovation processes in order to re-convert the production of manufacturing industries to be competitive while respecting the target of climate neutrality.

The incumbent climate crisis and dramatic impact of the pandemic, along with the extraordinary progress of green, environmental and white biotechnologies and digital communication, potentially pave the way to disruptive innovation for the sustainable growth dynamics of territories. The same concept of “rural” (being remote and under demographic decline) and “urbanization” (driver of innovation and progress) is going to change.

Proper policies, duly redesigned according to a systemic approach, could allow rural communities to start an extraordinary journey into a more sustainable and innovative future.

Cities face the risk of increased impact due to climate change, pollution and conflicts among societal groups. Conversely, rural areas, less densely populated and rich in cultural and natural heritage, could become highly attractive alternatives. These rural areas could provide healthier environments offering a more affordable lifestyle to (young) people looking for job opportunities.  Advanced manufacturing and service businesses, operating in the international markets, might thrive in these areas, given that suitable technological infrastructures are put in place.

Properly infrastructured rural areas, respecting the potential of natural ecosystems, could become highly attractive. The same concept of remoteness can change, as working remotely for a part of current duties of employees working in cities and offices is becoming more and more frequent. Also, electricity powered transport (such as short distance electric aircraft and drone technology) may provide new approaches to the transformation of peripheral conditions that ensure climate change neutralityMoreover, the most recent advancement in biorefinery technologies and digital technologies (IoT, IA, …) must be duly studied to identify the most appropriate applications that enable the decoupling of growth from the consumption of natural resources.

Present evolution in biocatalytic small-sized modular multipurpose biorefineries offer an attractive combination:

  • Robust research-driven cluster start-up connected to the biorefinery of lignocellulosic feedstocks and industrial valorisation of their outputs (natural primitive fibres, regenerated cellulose, lignin, hemicellulose and other biochemicals)
  • High quality of life and vibrant creative industries such as tourism and hospitality, visual and media industry.

Currently, forests in EU provide 3.5 million jobs (many more than the three heaviest and most energy-wasting industrial chains – steel, chemicals, cement). The sector includes 400,000 small and medium-sized enterprises and 16 million forest owners. Rural, Mountainous and remote areas constitute 80% of the EU territory.

These territories can provide sustainable leverage for the Green Deal, not merely because Europe must ensure cohesion, but because they are the major source of bio-based raw materials for a European autonomous capacity to inspire the bio-based industry of tomorrow. Forested rural areas must become the champions of the Green Deal Agenda and Next Generation EU if the Green Deal is to become a reality and not just a promise.

Forest policies as a vital component of the EU Green Deal

No doubt the EU Green Deal is the most courageous and  transformative European political initiative in recent decades. However, such great vision and ambition cannot be delivered without rethinking the way we produce and consume, including how we conceive territorial planning. Circularity applied to a fossil-based economy is not the way forward. We must jump into the sustainable bioeconomy era, which is usually circular from inception.

A starting point for incisive and transformative new policies must be the revision of data provision and accessibility.

Attention should be given to build accessible, integrated, multilevel databases, like the ones of Eurostat and FAO, that combine quantitative and qualitative data and ensure a detailed understanding of the very diverse typologies of rural territories with a new perspective. Data must be complete, updated and specific. For instance, they must include the extension of private and state-owned forests, the percentage of forests classified as protected zones and by different typologies, climate zones and plant species (including woody and non-woody species). We should design rigorous indicators to rate environmental, cultural and socio-economic values.  It is also necessary to estimate the potential of plant waste that could be harvested to maintain the landscape and prevent fires and hydrogeological disaster.

Policies aimed to build a circular bio-economy model must optimize the sustainable exploitation of European lignocellulose biomasses while enabling a viable upgrading of the social and economic livelihood in rural territories.

In the post-covid era, coexistence of ecological innovative industries with lifestyles that reinforce cultural values and traditions could become reality in precious and often unique rural ecosystems.

Culture and heritage protection and valorisation are the connecting values of the European communities and we must take into consideration how to bind together the need for transformation with historically resilient and sustainable settlement models. In the past the relationship between natural and anthropic landscapes with built environments has resulted in rural settlements that reinforced the sense of societal identity and fostered social cohesion. At the same time, the local building culture was naturally sustainable, since it utilized local natural resources and materials.

If disruptive changes are introduced early in the policymaking, the past will meet the future and generate potent alternative means of development in contrast to the consumeristic approach of present society.

The Alliance model and the pilot intervention in Bururi Nature Forest Reserve and surroundings

 Collective learning and radical change in fragile regions

For years, huge financial resources have been directed towards the civil and economic renaissance of the fragile African regions. Theoretical studies have revealed the challenges and characteristics of development, conflict resolution, reconciliation, democratisation and state rebuilding. But the problems remain largely unresolved and the regions remain fragile.

bimbi nilo

Evidence of this failure is clear: millions of migrants are knocking the doors of Europe, and civil leaders and populations are appealing to developed countries and regions for urgent intervention.

Almost one-third of the world’s population lives in countries affected by open or covert warfare.

Poverty and conflict coexist in complex ways. If you wish to create enduring communities and national rebirth, history shows that you cannot rely on economic and financial interventions, international jurisdictional courts, or military interventions, not even peace-keeping.


In the ALLIANCE model a fragile community is a community whose members feel that they are trapped in extreme deprivation, far away from the world of the rich and prosperous. The community fabric has been shaped by deeply rooted influences and conditions that may go back as far as colonialism.

When people live is extreme poverty, civil war and natural catastrophes cause betrayal, grief, abandonment and violence. The soul of the community suffers further from a deep, complex illness, hidden and hard to detect.

 The ALLIANCE foundation principles

The ALLIANCE model  (, initiated by Lilia Infelise, was presented and discussed at three international conferences, at Le Mans (1998), Dortmund (2002) and Pisa (2003). The operational model was evaluated by the Scientific Committee and included in some thirty exemplary international experiences at the first World Cluster Conference, organized by OECD and DATAR (Paris, January 2001). The experience was debated and introduced in various forms in Brazil, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. An extensive discussion took place at the international seminar held in Lugano on 21 and 22 September 2006 entitled “The Border Crisis. Towards regional development engineering”. At this stage, Lilia Infelise identified the need for both a more solid theoretical development and the urgent need to engage in the practice of post-conflict rebirth of fragile regions.

 ALLIANCE addresses three core questions:

(1) How can a community (children, young adults, aged women and men, etc) develop and revitalize its desire for a rebirth, given

  • its physical environment (with its own climate and geographical connotations)
  • its peculiar history, myths, written and unwritten – a unique cultural landscape
  • the deep and penetrating wounds of conflict and violence ?

(2) How can a local community discover its potential and identify specific pathways for a full exploitation of its tangible and intangible resources?

(3) Is it realistic to establish a complete, permanent regeneration? In regions which have suffered  civil war, it is particularly hard to rebuild robust innovative networks. They are brittle, and seemingly trivial incidents can bring back mistrust and violence?

Fragility and fragile communities vary. Only in some specific circumstances it is possible to start a collective and radical change process with a reasonable expectation success.

Therefore the ALLIANCE operational model starts with an audit, a due diligence of the territory aimed at discovering the tangible and intangible resources hidden in the soul of a community and its territory, especially:

  • an intact natural heritage of great value;
  • unknown and rare arts and crafts and a strong cultural heritage;
  • a deep-rooted sense of belonging to a history and the territory;
  • vocations strongly focused in the territory (for instance coffee, fishing, etc).;
  • a major commitment of the Diaspora (people who left due to war, economic or political reasons), young and highly-schooled population ready to come back home and help rebuild the community (2);
  • the true commitment of women and young people, and leaders of associations, local administrators and charismatic subjects to starting a change/learning process aimed at upgrading their own role and that of the whole community;
  • a technology infrastructure that is capable enough for the exploitation of digital communication.

Given these circumstances, the ALLIANCE model could be introduced and turn key components of the fragile fabric into strengths.

A custom-designed Risk Prevention and Management is critical to the intervention.

Above all, a founding principle the ALLIANCE model of intervention must be respected: every local community is a living creature of its own, with a unique cognitive map, unique attributes, times and ways of learning and changing. Therefore the cognitive learning and change potential is shaped on a system of innovative networks with its own morphology, own language, own ways of learning and motivation and its own history (3).

Innovative Networks are systems of long-term relationships between actors that ensure a significant flux of information and interaction. They are formed from existing relationships (professional, acquired through shared experience of education or training, or formed through shared participation in associations).

Innovative networks are the result of a long process of relational learning. They depend on a solid background history. The relationships are long-term. The members of the network have known and trusted each other for a long time. Career paths are often crossed. People respect one another, and there are often ties of deep affection.

Every network has its own history and shape! Innovative networks are a precious relational capital that permits the members to extend their collaboration and develop new innovative projects, and rebuild trust when endangered by conflicts or poverty.

A network evolves and assumes different forms, but maintains its core identity in spite of change. This identity consists of:

  • the character of the principles on which it is based;
  • the norms which regulate the internal relations of the network;
  • the memory of ancient techniques and habits.

Building or rebuilding a network, therefore signifies creating or rebuilding a relational capital, vital for any serious development and innovation process.

Civil wars and, especially, genocides destroy Innovative Networks. They undermine the community’s capacity to build or rebuild trust and start a learning and radical change process.

In post conflict fragile regions ALLIANCE  starts a spiral individual and collective process of change learning dynamics which allows discovery of – and rebuilding from – deep-rooted, hidden Innovation Networks.

ALLIANCE has translated into an operational model the spiral of learning of Ikuiro Nonaka (1994) and the NIS paradigm of Å. B. Lundvall (1992). It has broken down the principles into individual, small group and large group learning methods, procedures and techniques. It has devised the appropriate connections between them in terms of rhythms and duration.

Time, sequence and the rhythm of project development are crucial and must be designed according to a precise learning/change dynamic that entails the interplay of four knowledge creation and conversion forms. These must interact at the proper time, location and rhythm : combination of explicit knowledge, throughout interactive classroom or video conferencing ; externalisation of implicit knowledge or internalisation of explicit knowledge, through reflective practice methods that foster awareness by reflecting on properly designed experiences (project work and action research); socialisation, through shared experiences in challenging situations, such as full immersion in a new completely different environment when participants come from different regional and cultural backgrounds having been recruited for an ambitious task.


spiral of knowledgeThe graphic explains the ALLIANCE implementation model. It leads from innovation to learning. It puts into action a process that:

  • Augments the stock of knowledge;
  • Maintains economic and social-relational capital through the processes of memory – culture, arts & crafts, but also the hospitality and the culture of the ancient use of natural resources for cooking, medical care, dressing, building, music instruments, and their symbolic meanings;
  • Unfreezes obsolete capital– false beliefs, wrong techniques and habits in resource exploitation – through various forms of creative forgetting– regeneration of arts & crafts tradition using new bioprocesses, eco-design thinking;
  • Forgetting habits which block changes can act through a process of feedback and lead, indirectly, to the increase of knowledge. For example, to the development of a new bio process to produce bio products that respect nature and culture while improving quality and performance.

Learning, memorisation, forgetting are processes extremely sensitive to institutional factors. The behaviour of Banks, Chambers of Commerce, Ministries, international organisations such as the World Bank Group, UNIDO, UNESCO; UN, etc. who devise policies and programmes is crucial. This is why ALLIANCE emphasises stakeholders’ dialogue building and, on Institutionalisation, gives the major role to a Task Force that is properly recruited and trained. Its role is to influence visions and decisions, advocate common interests, and build innovative networks; to help guide the various elements and relations of a complex community system, typical of a fragile region. The Task Force favours processes of negotiation, consolidating the memorisation of learning, and attenuating conflict and the devastating impact of the destructive phases.

Finally, the ALLIANCE model is very flexible. It could be used in a systemic approach or concentrated in a few days intervention. It could build on a highly structured masters degree programme, or in a few days empower committed local stakeholders such as managers of nature reserves, municipal candidates of all  different parties. The achieved results are obviously very different, but the careful process, from due diligence to learning techniques remains the same.

During any intervention, we learn, and we adapt the operational strategy to best fit the characteristics and circumstances we have found.
In order to fully exploit the model’s potential, a minimum of four years of intervention are required, together with the  convergence of financial resources.
The pilot experience in Bururi ,which I present in the following paragraph, represents a  pilot initiative, which could open the door to a custom-designed systemic intervention.


Valorisation of tourism potential around the Bururi forest and transfer strategy to other protected areas

The World Bank and  the Global Environmental Facility – GEF, through the Project PADZOC – Projet d’Aménagement Durable des Zones Cafféicoles du Burundi, managed by the Ministry of Agriculture of Burundi, have started a pilot community regeneration programme in one of the 14 reserves and protected areas of Burundi, the Forest Nature Reserve of Bururi – RNFB.


lake with boats
The Forest Natural Reserve, situated in the South-West of Burundi, may be among the smallest protected areas (almost 300 ha) on our planet, but it is of particular value for the unique character of the biodiversity it has retained.

It lies 20km from the beautiful shores of Lake Tanganyika, at a height of 1800 meters. In this intact natural oasis are to be found rare bird species and enchanting flora, including rare medicinal plants. The reserve guards take care of the local chimpanzees, at risk of extinction, and help them get used to visitors.


In the surrounding, larger Natural Reserve of Bururi are to be found production of biological coffee and experimentation with shade-grown coffee. There too are mountains and verdant woods. The superb sandy coasts of Lake Tanganyika are cultivated with citrus fruit such as oranges, mandarins and lemons, plentiful in full summer, and luxuriant banana plantations within vegetation typical of the tropics – excellent Arabic coffee, mango, avocado, papaya, passion fruits. You can visit thermal waters, and superb waterfalls and southernmost sources of the river Nile. The Natural Reserve also hosts an exemplary experience dedicated to a Batwa community, whose members are employed for the maintenance of the paths and the valorisation of local arts and crafts.


In this oasis where we find an inestimable patrimony of natural resources, I have been requested to accompany the natural reserve management and the whole community in the discovery of the potential for tourism that could allow environmental protection, while enhancing living conditions of local communities, through job and enterprise creation. The programme started in June 2017 with an in-field mission of 20 days followed by two other short-term missions, in November 2017 and February 2018. The major work was done through distance mentorship thanks to an intense use of digital instruments and social channels.

The intervention was run in full cooperation with Leonidas NZIGIYIMPA, Curator of Protected Areas of Southern Burundi – Burundian Office for the Protection of the Environment.

The last mission (12-28 February 2018) was carried out in the Bururi Forest Reserve and other protected areas of Burundi. It had two major objectives:

  1. To reinforce the capacities of the Bururi community and especially the 350 farmers’ families that cultivate shade-grown coffee to start a Coffee Tasting Service;
  2. To assess the feasibility of, and conceive, a systemic pluriannual intervention in the most gifted protected areas where an excellent Arabica coffee is produced.

As part of the mission, a team of experts that included the Europe-Africa Alliance for bio-economy  ( was taken on a route that  showcased the area’s biodiversity, as follows: Forest Nature Reserve of Bururi, the hills of Mugamba-Matana, the thermal waters of Muyange, the source of the Nile, the national parks of Kibira, Ruvubu, Eastern Monuments (Karera Falls).

The experts encountered the  Kayanza and Mulongwe Coffee Research Centers, the Coffee Shedding Company and BUDECA.

Beside the visit, training of members of the Co-operative Dukorere Ikawa was undertaken by a team of trainers from ARTES, ART- Africa Renassaince Time, the University of Naples – Federico II and the Pascucci business group.

Through the study visit,  the training initiative with Dukorere Ikawa, and the first community festival of the Ecotourism District, hosted in the Forest Nature Reserve of Bururi, I have concluded this first pilot implementation of the Alliance Model in Sub-saharan Africa. I have been able to conceive and propose a more systemic and ambitious pluriannual intervention aimed at creating a network of ecotourism districts: The route of biodiversity and shade-grown coffee.

Several specific, concrete achievements deserve to be mentioned:

– A Coffee Service, offered by a cooperative founded by 350 families living in the surroundings of the Nature Reserve of Bururi, has opened its doors. Tourists are served with coffee cultivated and naturally processed in the forest, an excellent Arabica species. With the coffee they can eat delicious homemade desserts using only local ingredients, such as honey, berries, orange and mandarins.



– A hospitality quality charter has been agreed and signed by the major community stakeholder.

– The Mentorship Without Borders network has been created and is gradually involving entrepreneurs, researchers, designers, musicians, cooperating either at a distance, through webinars, and/or taking part in holiday programmes and creating projects and planning longer stays to share activities with the local communities.

National Geographic visited the territory early in May 2018, and has seen these results.

We have produced a video that tells this story in less than five minutes. And an even quicker glance is given in a 60 seconds video on digital channels.




[1]Follow the evolving debate animated by  OECD: Join the conversation on Twitter: @OECDDev & #StatesofFragility

[2]See  the data on the role played by immigrants  in support the country of origin economies  in OCSE, International Journal.

[3]The major theories which contributed to the model development are:  innovation network and inter-organisational network mainly developed in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the USA, the studies on milieu innovateur developed by the international group GREMI,  the NSI model developed by Lundvall, and  the studies of Ikujiro Nonaka and his team at the Institute of Business Research, Hitotsubashi, Tokyo, concerning the “managing” of the knowledge creation processes.

Recommended bibliography: Anderson, J. R. (1983), The Architecture of Cognition, MA: Harvard University Press, Cambridge; Camagni, R. P. (1994), Freeman, C. (1990), Networks of Innovators – a Synthesis of Research Issues, International Workshop on Networks of Innovators, Montreal.; Freeman, L. C. (1987), Centrality in Social Networks: Conceptual Clarification, Social Networks, Vol. 1.;Johansson, B.; Karlsson, Ch.; Westin, L. (1994), Patterns of a Network Economy, Springer-Verlag, Berlin; Lundvall, Å. B (1992), National Systems of Innovation – Towards a Theory of Innovation and Interactive Learning, Pinter Publishers, London; Nonaka, I. (1994), “A Dynamic Theory of Organisational Knowledge Creation”, in: Organisation Science, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 14-37.


Moving from waste policies to materials policies.The GINEXTRA® bio-refinery technology



I. The current pattern of materials use in Europe

The current pattern of materials use in Europe endangers the availability of the natural resources on which our welfare is based. In addition, this pattern of usage has a negative impact on the quality of air, water and soil, on human health, on climate change and on biodiversity. This environmental degradation occurs both within and outside the EU. If each inhabitant of the world would adopt a consumption pattern equal to that of the average European, the ecological carrying capacity of our planet would be exceeded by far. It is well known that Europes’ imports of agri-food commodities from poorer countries of Africa, Latin America and Asia impact many societal, economic, cultural and environmental dimensions such as landscape resilience (see the dedicated large extension of land cultivation) and food security of local communities. A typical example is the coffee commodity. Another relevant example is constituted by the so-called high-tech metals. Platinum, cobalt, titanium, indium and others are  critical materials for the development of environmental technologies aimed at boosting energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The EU will not master the shift towards sustainable production and environmentally responsible products without such high-tech metals. EU is faced with a supply risk for high-tech metals due to a high import dependence especially from Africa, where 80% of world production is extracted. Put simply, while Europe imports natural resources, it is exporting environmental pressures. Summing up, the main problems related to the present European model of materials use are twofold :

  1. The environmental impact generated by the current pattern of materials use.

The extensive use of natural resources to generate energy and to produce products causes direct and indirect environmental problems and pressures, such as the destruction of fertile land and loss of biodiversity due to extraction; pollution of air, water and soil during production and waste management; the negative effects of transport; and global warming. In short, our use of materials and the related production of damaging greenhouse gas, toxic and non-degradable waste are more extensive than the planet’s capacity to maintain healthy ecosystems.

  1. Scarcity caused by the current pattern of materials use.

The current pattern of production, consumption and materials use in Europe endangers the availability of the natural resources on which our well-being is based. Natural resources use in Europe exceeds availability, and Europe heavily relies on the import of natural resources. Worldwide population growth (from 7 billion to more than 9 billion by 2050) and economic development lead to an increasing demand for natural resources, many of which are finite. This implies that growing global competition for natural resources is adding to the concerns about the future availability of natural resources for Europe. All the above mentioned facts urge Europe to move from waste policies to materials policies covering the full life-cycle, crossing generational and geographical boundaries.

II. Investing in new Bio-refinery approaches

  The EU has gone through considerable efforts in the last 20 years to improve material efficiency, mainly through science technology development in White and Environmental Biotechnology. Nevertheless, this has not been sufficient to reverse fundamentally unsustainable consumption and production trends. In order to obtain true sustainability, far higher levels of absolute decoupling are required. Generally speaking, in the OECD countries, an absolute reduction of an environmental load of around 90% (“Factor 10″) is required within the next three to four decades.  Therefore, the EU (and the Member States) urgently need to manage its raw materials more sustainably and work towards a decoupling of environmental impact from rise in well-being. Europe needs to extracted natural resources in lower concentrations and from difficult or unexploited locations, but this could take to higher energy consumption and increased pressure on the environment, if suitable strategies are not put into practice such as taking risks to invest in sustainable and cost-efficient processing technologies for converting side streams and co-products from bio-based operations into high added-value products and hence increase the supply of biomass feedstock. This is not what is currently happening in Europe: namely current practices in Europe is to divert side streams to low-value applications such as energy and fuels. The present scenario sees a largely prevailing concentration in technologies destroying feedstock’s to produce bio fuel with a lack of attention paid to both optimisation of the biomass sustainable use and the optimised valorisation of the side streams. The prevailing business model is “mechanically” derived from the old petrochemical refinery model. It is based on huge financial investments in big bio-refinery plants which require huge quantity of biomasses at a very low price, cultivated in dedicated huge extension of lands in the surroundings of the bio refinery. If this business and technological model continues to be largely prevailing in Europe, shortly it could lead to delocalisation in the less development countries where low labour costs and large extension of lands are available with huge negative impact on social, economic and environmental effects on the European MS and their third countries partners (especially African countries and Mena countries). On the contrary European cultural and business sustainable models have a vital need for small-scale multipurpose modular and integrated biorefinery technologies, which process wild and cultivated nonfood lignocellulosic biomasses, with zero waste and zero impact on the landscape and natural environment. This is what the  GINEXTRA® technology offers! This kind of technologies could act as a driver of sustainable development models in the European neighbouring countries, vital parts in the whole biomass exploitation value chain. They will allow to establish sustainable logistic strategies and supply-chain management and preserve the cultural and natural environment of most European rural territories and communities as well as intact ecosystem in the African and Mena countries. Additionally, the introduction of this approach will result in a great benefit for the sustainability and competitiveness of the natural fiber industry and especially for the European textile industry. It will allow the inauguration of radical new rural development models and foster new international relations with our historical partners: African and Mena neighbouring countries.

 III. The GINEXTRA® technology

GINEXTRA® is already a European Registered Brand (Registration number 7055312, classes 01, 07, 16, 22, 23, 40) which identify patented and proprietary multipurpose modular bio-refinery technologies and a duly tested model of community regeneration. Thanks to an intense research activity, led in partnership with the most advanced European R&D bodies specialised in white and environmental biotechnologies and their application to natural fibres, ARTES has achieved the following tangible results:

- Two proprietary non-commercially released microbial strains selected and used to produce an enzymatic cocktail with a high degradative capacity of lignin and hemicellulose, but not capable of attacking the cellulose component, which had to be separated but not modified in its physical and mechanical characteristics.

- Realisation and patenting of a pilot biotechnology plant (in a small scale for the extraction of 5 kg. per day of crude fiber) with low power consumption (Patent n° 0001396855 entitled “Machine, procedure and combined plant for the separation of fibers for textile by macerated stems of fiber plant”); which only uses enzymatic retting and mechanical defibering.

- Conception, engineering and lab testing (300 gr, 2,5 kg) of a multipurpose new fast bio – refinery plant, which reduces the fibre extraction time to 1/8, compared with the already patented plant and produces liquid and solid wastes of particular potential interest for the extraction of hemicelluloses, lignin, and other biochemicals (patent demand N°To achieve rapid, sustained and concerted changes in lifestyles and resource use that cut across all levels of society and economy).

- Cultivation and mechanized harvesting of the Spartium junceum successfully tested, with parameter definition of profitability compared with hemp and flax;

- Industrial spinning and weaving of the resulting fibres and realisation of samples of yarn, paper, bacterial nanocellulose, lignin and hemicellulose.

- Creation and registration of the CTM GINEXTRA (Registration number 7055312, classes 01, 07, 16, 22, 23, 40)

Upscaling and integration of technologies, moving from lab research and small-scale demonstrators is the goal of ARTES which has formed a large partnership among industries and biotechnological European laboratories and is developing project proposals in both BBI JU calls and other programmes such as ENI CBCMED and INTERREG Central Europe. A huge investment in project design and development. GINEXTRA® technology consists in obtaining fiber from Spartium junceum (Spanish broom, or Ginestra) a perennial shrub which has a structure similar to a brush, with straight pedicles and evergreen, tender twigs. ARTES, has isolated strains and developed an enzymatic process which uses proprietary enzymatic cocktail branded as GINEXTRA® with high performance as ligninase but which does not effect cellulose and allows the extraction of intact high-quality fibers. The fiber extracted has a great interest in many industries starting form textile. Spanish Broom plants are often found growing together as dense thickets, in waste areas, abandoned pastures, and roadsides, preferring poor, infertile soils. Its penetrating root structure indicates that Spanish Broom is an important pioneer species, holding together poor soils and preventing erosion. It is indigenous to temperate Europe, northern as well as in South Asia, such as in Tajikistan, but also it spontaneously grows in Latin America, such as Paraguay.  

  The GINEXTRA® technology uses only the annual growth of the wild plant which is collected to clean the forests and avoid dangerous fire during summer. Nevertheless, it is to be highlighted that the GINEXTRA® technology has already been tested with good results with Esparto Grass (a well-known shrub which grows in million hectares in North Africa, and South Europe).  
  The technology available at pilot scale has allowed producing high-quality textile fibre, which was industrially spun and weaved.  
  In order to maximise the cost-efficiency of the valuable fiber extracted and enhance the competitiveness of the whole value chain, a research programme was developed to investigate and obtain high-value marketable bioproducts from the solid and liquid waste of the primary bio refinery process (maceration liquid and solid waste). Thanks to this research programme an evaluation of valuable intermediate products suitable to produce biochemicals and platform molecules available after the fiber extraction was obtained at the end of 2015.  
  The research programme concluded in 2016 allowed the extraction and purification of lignin, hemicellulose, cellulose pulp and the production of bio paper using solid waste. With liquid waste, bacterial cellulose was produced at a cost which is 39% lower form standard international costs. Beside the production at industrial scale of high-quality yarns, fabrics and garments, the side streams obtained have been already tested to produce valuable biochemical such as bacterial cellulose, at lab scale.

IV. Side stream valorization: the project VALUE FROM WASTE | VA-WA

One of the projects conceived and recently submitted by ARTES and its international network, within the BBI-JU the last call, is the project VALUE FROM WASTE | VA-WA – Upscale and integrate multipurpose modular bio-refinery to produce high value-added materials from wastes originating from renewable plant biomass”.  

  VA-WA‘s goal is to value neglected resources, such as Spartium junceum or esparto grass, growing in poor marginal soils and preventing extension of desertification, in north Africa, the Euro-Mediterranean countries, and South Asia. It addresses also another challenge: to demonstrate feasible responses to the severe problems of the European economic and societal model which has a huge impact on the poorest countries which supply us vital mass commodities. Untreated waste left after agri-food commodities which are processed and imported to Europe could become valuable factories of healthy biochemicals. These biochemicals could be processed to produce biomaterials which will hasten job creation and enterprise creation, preserving landscape resilience and maintaining a healthy planet for the benefit of all. This is why the VA-WA has included partners from Turkey and from Burundi. They will be our companions in addressing the challenge of the project while attesting to their historical contributions to the European civilisation. This is the ambition of VA-WA: to demonstrate that answers are available if the a correct approach is assumed! Furthermore, VA-WA addresses the challenge of giving breath to the courage of micro and small enterprises (MSMEs). By theory, we know very well that while SMEs are territorial in that they grow in symbiosis with the community in which they are created (see the European project Regard Croises:; big multinationals corporates act globally; they move anywhere there are the most convenient externalities to maximise profit. Very often MSMEs do not seek maximisation of profit. They have a core mission to create value and a better life for the families and the communities in which they live. This project has the ambition to combine the interests of local rural precious ecosystems and global perspective of sustainable management of materials. We wish to develop a small/medium sized pilot biorefinery plant compatible with a diverse set of side stream valorisation technologies, in a perspective of Z waste and Z impact on landscape resilience. We were born micro, we are growing with the ambition to create a global value chain. Wherever such a bio-refinery is built, it will use local biomasses, extract biochemicals and exchange geographically unique products on a global scale. Our technology allows a feasible Km zero model without missing global exchange of goods, services, and people.

New international cooperation policies to re-design the foundations of a new civilisation. The contribution of Scientific system of Southern Italy

The industrialised world is currently facing the most severe crisis of the economical and productive system of the last 500 years: 90% of all the planet’s resources, including knowledge, know-how and intellectual property, belong to the 17% of its inhabitants. As we speak, this system is falling apart. The symptom of this crisis have been evident since 1991, but it is only from 2008 on, when it hit the richest industrialised countries, that the whole model of development has started to be questioned. The economic indicators, the climate change, and the exhaustion of the vital natural resources are imposing to re-design the foundation of our civilization and create a new one, where the destruction of main natural, human, and cultural heritage of vast areas of the planet would not be inherent to economic growth.

We are all now at the starting line, however there is huge inequality in the distribution of knowledge, know how, and in the abilities for the development and utilisation of individual and collective talents: the human capital.

The deepest form of poverty for a country is the underutilisation of its human capital, which takes the form of unemployment, underemployment, migration and the inherent fragility of the education and training systems.

The scientific systems (universities, research institutions, policy makers), as well as the business system, must develop new awareness on social responsibility and not just be promoters of individual freedom (which of course must also be defended from forms of biased impositions).

In this framework, we need to rethink deeply the concepts underpinning international cooperation policies and in particular those concerning Europe and the poorest and most fragile countries geographically closer to us.

In an extremely complex context, we believe that a main way is the construction of common scientific and research infrastructure (laboratories, research teams), for training of young scientists, researchers, leaders of high-tech enterprises, fully aware of the social challenges and their economic and leadership role, without distinction of origin.

They will share knowledge and together find solutions to problems that arise in different contexts. The scientific systems of Southern Italy can play a pioneering role in this regard and encourage the flowering of a new civilization that avoids the risk of destructive conflict and natural disasters connected to an unwise use of the planet’s resources.

ARTES is engaged primarily in this effort, and it has built and continues to expand and strengthen a multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary network committed to promote knowledge sharing and creation as the major lever to achieve regeneration and development of the economy and labor, as well as quality of life improvement for all. In this context and in the framework of a memorandum of understanding that brings together more than 12 European and African universities and chambers of commerce, a series of international meetings will be realised in the network’s partner universities, in Italy and abroad. We start with UNICAL  with a first opportunity to meet and debate. On March 27th in UNICAL CAMPUS – RENDE, Caldora room, from 14,30 to 17,30, Tindaro Paganini World Bank Senior Trade and Competitiveness expert, will present his book: “World Bank: an opportunity for Young people and enterprises – work with an international organisation and fight world poverty.”

By Lilia Infelise

Individuals’ learning in the new societal environment: what role for Open Badges?

Carla Casilli's in the education ecosystem

The world is experiencing a major shift in the learning system. The previous forms of recognition of learning are becoming obsolete, and so are the referencing definitions and taxonomies related to education and training. Learners develop their skills and competences in a variety of learning environments, and not only in the context of formal education (for examples schools and universities). Economists of innovation recognise knowledge, and therefore learning, as the most important resource in today’s society. However, the formal education system seems unable to cope with these rapid societal changes. Companies and institutions struggle to find the appropriate skills for their job vacancies, and at the same time individual learners lack tools for certifying the whole set of capacities and experiences that they own, very often gained outside the formal education and training system.

The Open Badge system tries to address these issues by providing a flexible and adaptive technology of recognition and certification of competences, which could be potentially applied to all learning environments.

However, in order to become widely recognised as a credible certification method, Open Badges must solve some critical issues, which still represent a source of debate among experts. These issues are related to the reliability, validity and quality of the credentialing with Open Badges. In the Discussion Paper on Open Badges for Individuals, recently published by ARTES within the framework of the European Erasmus+ project Open Badge Network, has addressed these issues. It comprehensively illustrates, without preconceptions, the major theses which defend the unique beneficial role of Open Badges from the individuals’ point of view, but also investigates the “risks” implied by this instrument.

The paper targets all educational sectors, formal, informal and non-formal as well as the employment and social sectors and presents an overview on the current opinions and points of view related to the hottest issues around Open Badges, with the hope to provide less experienced users with a useful introductory tool and to stimulate further discussions within the community of Open Badge practitioners.

Specifically, the discussion paper focuses on the following key questions:

  • What are the major challenges the learning and training system is facing?
  • How can Open Badges address these challenges?
  • How would the individuals benefit from the introduction of a valid system based on Open Badges?
  • What are the risks involved in the introduction of a certification system based on Open Badges?
  • What is the role of individuals in the process of legitimation of the Open Badge standard? Can individuals contribute, and in which way?
  • How are Open Badges applied around the world? In what fields?

People interested to deepen the topic and contribute to the discussion are invited to register to the Open Badge Network portal and add their voices in the forum.

Abstract of the Discussion Paper on Open Badges for Individuals

Individual users may benefit from earning Open Badges in various ways, in their education, in their work life and in their leisure activities. The recognition of soft skills, prior learning and abilities developed in informal and non-formal environments may increase employability and acknowledgement of skills by the employers, while also facilitating introduction into new working places and positions. Students may add this set of credentials to their resumes at the end of a degree and be recognised for their extra-curricular activities. Open Badges may also help transform talents and passions into actual competences and therefore open new job opportunities.

Individuals can gain control over their education pathway and easily compose and display their digital resume on the web, collecting Open Badges they earned from different sources (schools, online courses, external organisation).

In the paper, we briefly present the dispute regarding the effect of gamification of the learning process, acknowledging the point of view according to which “external motivators”, such as Open Badges, may have a detrimental effect on learning. However, we support the idea that rigorously designed Open Badges may improve learning performance and motivation during class and training.

Open Badges may find useful applications also in the context of promotion of citizenship and social integration, for example in the case of recognition of skills of migrant workers or academics. Citizens may be rewarded with Open Badges for the activities within their community, which would in return increase the group cohesion and their sense of belonging.

However, individuals will play an important role in the future of Open Badges also as designers and issuers. The Open Badges technology is free and relatively easy to access, which gives a chance to independent communities of learners to develop and award their own set of Open Badges, using their own criteria and competency frameworks. However, an opposite view argues that this could carry some risks.

Individual issuers can use Open Badges to provide organisations and institutions with suggestions and benchmark their needs. Innovative and responsive organisations will build systems of Open Badges that consider contributions from a grassroots level.

In general, the response of the final consumers of Open Badges is fundamental to reach the critical mass for the technology to be widely recognised. Beside this, in the paper, we discuss how the “value” of a single Open Badge is closely related to the users’ perspective and to the establishment of networks of trust among Open Badge issuers, earners, companies, institutions and education providers. We discuss also how the “endorsement” feature contributes in achieving this result by enabling Open Badges to be peer-reviewed.

The future of Open Badge will depend on the engagement of the whole community, including individual users, in the construction of value and trust.

In the paper we support the idea that the education system could play a major role in this regard, by helping education providers and the community of learners to familiarise themselves with this tool and by providing the right indication for rigorous application of competency frameworks and evaluation methodologies. Institutions and organisations should facilitate the encounter between the expectation of the users and the intents of the issuers, while ensuring absolute freedom and the cost-free basis for everybody to design, issue and obtain an Open Badge, without imposing a common standard. They should provide Open Badge designers and issuers with appropriate guidelines and frameworks, to nurture the building of trust networks among issuers, earners and viewers and support individuals in the recognition of the right methodology to assess the quality and reliability of Open Badges.


* Image by: Casilli, C. (2016). Badges + credentials, another visual take. Retrieved May 9, 2016, from

On the path of Marco Aurelio Severino

On the 12 of July, ARTES, in cooperation with the department of human studies of the University of Calabria (UNICAL-DISU) and the Municipality of Tarsia (Calabria), organised an international seminar on the contribution of Marco Aurelio Severino to the history of medicine, science and technology at the dawn of the modern age.


A wide view on the early moderns

For the 360th anniversary of his death, the University of Calabria and the Palazzo Severino hosted a series of discussions and talks about the state of medicine in the 16th – 17th century. The intervention focused both on Severino’s life, on the evolution of medicine and surgery in that era, and on the correspondence and influence among the different scientists of the time. Among others has been discussed the contribution of Ambroise Paré to surgery and medical knowledge, Severino’s interpretation of Harvey’s work on blood circulation, or his work on the Aristotelian studies on air and water.



To project ourselves into the future

The organisation of the seminar, made possible thanks to the commitment of Professor Emilio Sergio from UNICAL-DISU, also confirmed the willingness to further develop the work done on Marco Aurelio Severino through the establishment of a proper foundation. The purpose of such an institution would be threefold. The first, goal would be the rediscovery of Marco Aurelio Severino’s life and work. This first objective directly serves a second one, which is the valorisation of the regional treasures and heritages. The redevelopment of fragile regions and communities is at the core of ARTES’ engagement and this project continues this tradition. Finally, the rediscovery of Severino’s work may also help for the understanding of the importance of cooperation and correspondence among scientists in the progression of knowledge. To reopen discussions and debates between organisations and scholars specialised on different scientist from the modern era, may help to better understand one of the major factor of the spread of knowledge.



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.