Basilicata Pitch2Pitch, Co-Innovation Awards assigned

From the salt of the earth come the ideas for the open innovation of Basilicata businesses

20 April 2023
10 min read
20 April 2023
10 min read

The call4innovation run by Joule, Eni’s business school dedicated to startups in the Agritech and Agrienergy sectors, has drawn to a close. The business cases will now be perfected together with the agricultural companies, in the field.

When startuppers attentive to environmental sustainability work hand-in-hand with entrepreneurs of innovative agricultural companies with a gaze firmly set to the future, extraordinary projects come to be. A meeting of ideas and projects made possible thanks to the call4innovation Basilicata Pitch2Pitch, conceived and supported by Joule, the Eni school for business, in conjunction with the Polytechnic University of Milan, PoliHub (the Milan Polytechnic accelerator), ALSIA (the agency of Basilicata for development and innovation in agriculture) and supported by the Basilicata Regional Department of Agricultural and Forestry Policy.

Over the last few days, at the Alsia Research Centre of Metaponto, three of the six finalist startups that had reached the conclusion of the selection and training path launched in June 2022, were awarded the Co-Innovation Awards. The startups were flanked by an equal number of Basilicata-based agricultural companies with which to develop the business cases. The winning startups have been assigned a grant of 20 thousand euros while the agricultural companies have been assigned 10 thousand euros. Cash prizes come in addition to the support of competences useful in speeding up development of the proofs of concept by means of a 3-month acceleration programme, and the flanking of PoliHub mentor and tutor, Joule and Alsia.

The winners of the Co-Innovation Award

Startup: Trace Technologies, with the project Wine Tech dealing precisely with wine-making (team: Marco Ferrante, Carlo Capretta, Fabio di Gaetano and the Argoserv by Sandhills Italy team).
Co-innovation with: Asso Fruit Italia (team: Salvatore Pecchia).
Project: the Abruzzo startup Trace Technologies has finalised the web app Vigneto Sicuro as part of the Wine Tech project and will be starting trials with Asso Fruit Italia, an organisation of producers based in Basilicata, but which operates throughout southern Italy. The web app allows for the monitoring of the lands of the agricultural company Palmitesta, with a view in particular to preventing downy mildew.

Startup: AOP4Water (team: Alessia Falco, Antonino Fiorentino, Luigi Rizzo, Antonio Proto, Raffaele Cucciniello)
Co-innovation with: Masserie Viviano (team: Antonio Nicola Viviano, Giovanna Bascetta and Aida Viviano).
Project: AOP4Water, Apulia-based startup specialised in the design of innovative water treatment plants, will be starting trials with Masseria Viviano, a Basilicata company specialised in cattle farming, for a circular economy project involving the enhancement of waste water.

Startup: SmartEducationLab, with the Ortolino project (team: Loredana Verardi, Lucio Colizzi, Emanuela Guerriero and Tommaso Adamo).
Co-innovation with: Piaceri del Pollino (team: Nicola Ciminelli, Francesco Ciminelli and Mirko Bianco).
Project: SmartEducationLab, an Apulia-based startup, has conceived the Ortolino project, an IoT and low-cost fertilising and watering system and will be trialling it with Piaceri del Pollino, an agricultural company specialised in the soilless production of strawberries in the mountain territory.

Basilicata Pitch2Pitch is the call4innovation aimed at identifying innovative, sustainable entrepreneurial projects in the areas of Agritech and Agrienergy presented by teams, researchers, startups and spin-offs from the regions of southern Italy, to speed up their growth through the active involvement of Basilicata agricultural companies, generating positive effects on the region. An entrepreneurial acceleration and co-innovation model between startups and agricultural companies, to foster the development of an innovative ecosystem able to generate long-term value for the regional local economy.

The technological solutions to increase the efficiency of processes and the resilience of agricultural practices in a sustainable manner (Agritech) and solutions that can gain energy from waste materials left over from agricultural processes (Agroenergy) are areas of research and experimentation that are essential to collective well-being and environmental sustainability. Digitising and innovating agriculture is no longer a niche choice but rather a guarantee of food safety and one that safeguards the entire planet. The energy produced by agricultural, zootechnical, forestry and agri-industrial companies has become the most important and versatile of all renewable energy sources in our country (source: National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development).

Concreteness, collaboration and transfer of competences are the main ingredients of Basilicata Pitch2Pitch. Startups and agricultural companies together address and resolve the everyday problems of agriculture.

Wine Tech and Asso Fruit Italia: high level mentor and learning in the field

“Trace Technologies has presented the Wine Tech project with the Vigneto Sicuro application, which seeks to prevent vine diseases with the aim of supporting the Basilicata companies” - Carlo Capretta comments, co-founder of Trace Technologies -. “I recommend that all startups involved in Agritech take part in the Basilicata Pitch2Pitch call4innovation because it is one of the few programmes to offer the opportunity to collaborate with agricultural companies, which are, at the same time, also customers. It is extremely important to be able to concretely measure up to the actual problems that arise during production processes and assimilate know-how. Furthermore, contact is made with extremely high level mentors and knowledge is learned on the field, talking to agricultural company experts on a daily basis. A transfer of pragmatic competences, very valuable for the success of an open innovation programme”.

“As Asso Fruit Italia, having the opportunity of being involved in events focussed on innovation, like Basilicata Pitch2Pitch, has allowed us to intercept the very best innovative contexts in the central-south in the Agritech sector, thanks to the excellent selection work done by the partner entities of the initiative” - Salvatore Pecchio comments, agronomist of Asso Fruit Italia -. This has allowed us to make contact with Trace Technologies, an innovative Abruzzo-based company with which we are now pursuing a municipal operative plan (POC) to trial innovative solutions by which to prevent vine diseases in the territory of Basilicata.  If in some respects our know-how has been of great help to the young men and women as they look to the table grapes industry, in turn, we have been “contaminated” by a genuineness and fresh entrepreneurial approach that have truly impressed us. The Vigneto Sicuro solution they put forward to us fully reflects our needs and requirements as OP.

AOP4Water and Masseria Viviano: research and business together for simple, innovative solutions

“This was the first time we had ever taken part in this type of call and it was most definitely the right choice” - Alessia Falco says, founder of AOP4Water -. “We have found the way to make our ideas compatible with those of the agricultural company, managing to produce concrete solutions for the real problems that arise day-in, day-out in the field. Furthermore, the tutoring by the Eni and Polytechnic mentors has helped us grow, bringing us into contact with other, highly-qualified points of view. Our idea has been revised and perfected, allowing us to design an economically-competitive solution with a low environmental impact. Now, we will move forward with the executive design, directly in the agricultural company”.

A very positive experience was also enjoyed by Antonio Nicola Viviano and Giovanna Bascetta from Masseria Viviano: “It was a fantastic, very exciting experience, comparing notes with so many new ideas. We started out from very different points of view and found a meeting point with simple, practical, innovative solutions” - Antonio Nicola Viviano tells us.

“The hardest aspect was finding the right idea for our company, adapting it to suit our specific needs” - Giovanna Bascetta explains -. “The entrepreneur aims to increase the efficiency of the production processes and by joining forces with AOP4Water, we successfully achieved this result. Joule’s call brings the world of research into contact with that of business in a manner that is usually difficult to find in the world of work”.

Ortolino and Piaceri del Pollino: innovation on real scale and calibrated products for micro enterprises

“The added value of the participation in the call4innovation stems from the transfer of competences and a very concrete approach taken to problems” - Loredana Verardi comments, co-founder of Smart-Education Lab, the startup that designed Ortolino -. “The contribution made by the PoliHub mentors and the competences they conveyed to us were extremely important in fine tuning our project. Furthermore, we have also better contextualised our innovation, collaborating with the agricultural company and addressing practical problems”.

“There are a great many wonderful innovations in agriculture but they are rarely applied in the real life of the company” - Lucio Colizzi comments -. “Thanks to Basilicata Pitch2Pitch, we have trialled our innovation on problems on a real scale, in the fields, collaborating with colleagues from the agricultural company Piaceri del Pollino”.

“We found a very helpful, open approach and a great desire to work together” - comments Nicola Ciminelli, agronomist of Piaceri del Pollino - “with the trial, we aim to develop low-cost products that are calibrated for micro enterprises like our own. In the future, we would also like to include small strawberry producing companies, further lowering the cost of the initial investment. In this way, we will be able to create a portfolio of forest fruits and mountain strawberry producers with a brand that very much identifies our territory”.

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