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.

11:05 active cells2

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.

12:05 monte sole

12:05 dicam



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.

14:05 arsac

14:05 arsac3

14:05 enea 5


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.