The project n4f  aims at creating a high technology district in the field of Industrial Biotechnology in the Mediterranean basin. The feasibility study is currently ongoing in two regions: Calabria, in southern Italy and the area of Gafsa and Kasserine, in Tunisia.

The multi-disciplinary approach and the strong international orientation, are the hallmarks of n4f. The detailed feasibility study includes the design of two laboratories, the Biotech Lab and the EcoDesign Lab, designed as nodes and directors of a vast network of Euromediterrenean laboratories. For each of the two laboratories are identified in detail: mission, strategic & specific goals, laboratory equipment, working groups, skills and professional profiles, major research programs, action plan. The scientific and technological skills include: molecular biotechnology, genetics, environmental and industrial biotechnology, chemical engineering, systems biology, metabolic engineering and modelling, enzymology, microbiology, nanobiomaterials, science of fermentation and purification processes.


The program started as a result of two different projects: one European programme for development of rural areas and fight against illegal work, and another programme of industrial research called GANTT – Ginestra Art Nature and Textile Technology. This programme, launched in 2001 and currently in progress aimed at identifying environmentally sustainable technologies for the processing of Broom and in particular of the Spartium Junceum, and for the extraction of the fiber and the related bio-components.

The challenging industrial research, pursued and self-financed by ARTES has received the support of the Calabria region, in 2006, 2008 and in 2014.


The first important results, presented and recognised internationally, have been achieved in 2008. Namely:

a brand new process of enzymatic maceration of the stems of Spartium, based on the discovery, isolation and characterization of a micro-organism;

The construction of a biotechnology pilot plant (in small scale – for the extraction of 5 kg per day of crude fiber) with low power consumption (Patent N ° 0001396855);

The creation and registration of the CTM GINEXTRA (record date: March 16, 2009, registration number: 7055312, classes 01, 07, 16, 22, 23, 40);

non-disclosure agreements and cooperation signed by the wide network of European laboratories, research centres and universities that are today the co-promoters of the n4f project.


LABOUR AND EMPLOYMENT // The under utilisation of human capital and abandonment of the territory by the graduates, especially those with a scientific background, are the most critical issues concerning the lack of innovation and economics competitiveness of fragile regions such as Calabria, Italy, and Gafsa and Kasserine, Tunisia. The creation of the district would have a positive impact on the under utilisation of human resources, the young and female labour, and the phenomenon of mass emigration of the graduates, an exodus that is bound to worsen in the next years if countermeasures are not going to be taken.

INTERNATIONALISATION AND QUALIFICATION OF HIGHLY TRAINED LABOUR // The BioTech Lab and EcoDesign Lab, with their concentration of highly specialised skills,  their strong international orientation, their attention and proximity to businesses, will supply post-graduate and vocational education, valuable and competitive, able both to stop the exodus of young people towards other training institutions and to attract students from all over the world. A excellent training system produces human capital, generates income, and at the same time is one of the productive sectors to be leveraged for economic regeneration and civil and competitive development of fragile and peripheral areas.

ENTERING THE MARKET OF PRIVATE INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH // The development of the n4f cluster will increase research opportunities offered to industrial groups both in MENA countries and in continental Europe, and worldwide.

ENTERING THE EUROPEAN RESEARCH ENVIRONMENT// n4f is promoted by an international network that already cooperates within the European Technology Platforms. The partnership brings together promoter companies, laboratories and highly specialised industrial research centres, and a network of micro and SMEs. It will be an ideal candidate for the various European programmes and multilateral development funds.

Avanzamento progetto