Re-think Circular Economy Forum just ended in Taranto

Companies, institutions, startups and research organizations presented their circular paths to foster the emergence of innovative and entrepreneurial activities in the Taranto area and nationwide.

On October 17 and 18, 2023, the eighth edition of Re-think – Circular Economy Forum was held at the Ionian Department of the University of Bari in Taranto. The event was promoted by Tondo, an international organization working in the circular economy sector, with main partner Eni. The event was then followed on October 19 by the Circular Bootcamp, an open-door discussion between companies and startups, organized by Joule, Eni’s school for enterprise.

As in the previous editions, held in September 2021 and October 2022, the event brought together experts, scholars, companies, startups and institutions, all engaged in various capacities on the issues of innovation and sustainability.

Taranto is hosting Re-think again this year,” said Francesco Castellano, CEO and founder of Tondo, “an initiative that is becoming increasingly important, a real marathon of events. We want to stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit of the city, to launch many small seeds to grow the circular economy in the territory, also thanks to the Taranto Circular Project.”

The event brought a vision on macro-trends, possible evolutionary paths and main projects of Circular Economy at local, national and international level. The main purpose was to stimulate the emergence of innovative and entrepreneurial activities in the Taranto area that would have a positive impact on the local and national economic system.

Over the course of the two days, there were numerous speeches by corporations, startups, research organizations and institutional actors who are pursuing and supporting projects on the Circular Economy at the local, national and international levels.

I found this edition of Re-think very interesting because of the presence of international guests, significant case histories and above all the strong presence of startups and entrepreneurs from the city of Taranto,” commented Fabrizio Manzulli, deputy mayor of Taranto. – After these years of work pushing diversification, fighting the industrial monoculture that has always characterized the territory, events like this give a sense of how much the territory is changing: it is important to continue on this path.

On Tuesday, October 17, the event began with institutional greetings, followed by several opening speeches. This was followed by a panel discussion entitled “The System to Support the Circular Economy.” Then, in the afternoon, the first two macro-themes were addressed: Energy Transition & Sustainable Mobility, followed by Circular Ports & Blue Economy. Then the Taranto Circular project was presented, with the presentation of the platform and the awarding of the most circular project in Taranto, and finally the presentation of the winning teams of the hackathon related to Re-think took place, with the election of the overall winner of the hackathon.

The presence of the Apulia Region at this event reaffirms that the road of the alliance between the public and private sectors is the only one to make the environmental transition a fair and shared moment of passage,” said Rocco De Franchi, Head of Institutional Communications of the Apulia Region. – We are and will be next to the healthy entrepreneurship of this land, to the academic and educational world, to those who choose to return to Puglia to stay, so that this will increasingly be the land of opportunities.”

On Wednesday, October 18, however, the event continued with the last macro-theme: Valorization of residues & water. A panel discussion titled “Potential of biomass waste valorization for the transition to low carbon circular economy” followed, and then the platform and tools of Taranto Circular, a project designed by Tondo, were presented. Then the preview of the Mediterrean Water Forum began, followed by the panel discussions “Taranto towards the Mediterranean and Europe” and “The financial system to support the circular economy.” After several speeches by entities and realities operating on Taranto, a concluding Programmatic Table took place, which concluded the event.

Re-think creates a collective framework and increases everyone’s awareness to build a new piece for climate change,” said Puglia Region’s Councillor for Productive Activities Alessandro Delli Noci, “a challenge not only for the big players but for all citizens and businesses. Regarding the energy transition strategy for Puglia, it is essential to start from Taranto.

In addition, on October 16 and 17, Tondo also organized a hackathon, in which groups of male and female students from universities in southern Italy were able to develop project proposals with the aim of implementing the principles of the Circular Economy in the sectors covered during the event.

For the Air Force challenge, focused on the Mar Piccolo Recovery Projects, the projects were evaluated by Dr. Vito Crisanti: the winning project turned out to be ID.E.MAR., which consists of the enhancement of the ecosystem services of the Mar Piccolo. For the Comes Group challenge, on the theme of Green Hydrogen, the projects were evaluated by Dr. Luigi Sergi, Comes project manager: the winning team was the VerdeDAG3 team, which worked on producing green hydrogen from fossil hydrocarbons. Finally, for the Sustainable Mobility Hack challenge, brought by Eni Joule, the jury consisted of Antonietta De Sanctis, head of startup acceleration program at Eni, and Fabrizio Lanciotti, senior manager at Eni. The winning project was EnerVibe Energy Flow, an innovative flooring system capable of storing the energy produced by people walking.

Afterwards, the three winning teams presented their projects again during the Re-think Circular Economy Forum, in front of a jury that also included Francesco Castellano, CEO and Founder of Tondo, and Annalisa Turi from the University of Bari: on this occasion, the overall winner of the hackathon was selected, namely the EnerVibe team.

Sustainability,” says Salvatore Toma, president of Confindustria Taranto, “is a complex concept that requires time and will, which is why we have developed a system of actions and interventions aimed at spreading good “sustainable” practices and supporting their adoption by member companies.”

To close the event, Eni Joule organized the Circular Bootcamp, which was held on Thursday, October 19, at the Relais Histò in Taranto. It was an open-door discussion between companies and startups, during which all participating companies and startups presented their reality and their circularity project.

This was followed by a time of networking, sharing and discussion between startups and companies, with a focus on potential synergies to generate sustainability impacts.

“The third edition of Re-think Taranto is a valuable opportunity for the ongoing energy transition, also thanks to the great contribution of the city,” comments Michele Viglianisi, Head of HSEQ Department Eni Energy Evolution. – The key word today is “Governance”: a dialogue between industry, territory, institutions and culture, all together for common goals. Taranto has shown over time that it is capable of expressing governance, bringing together the efforts of different parties.

The Main Partner of Re-think Circular Economy Forum in Taranto is Eni. Partners include ASSET, Taranto 2026 XX Mediterranean Games, the City of Taranto, Confindustria Taranto, Cisa, the Circular Economy SRIP, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Italy, Maldarizzi Automotive and BaLab.

The event was sponsored by Confapi, the Order of Engineers of the Province of Taranto, Cassa Edile, the Representation in Italy of the European Commission, Europe Direct Taranto, the Ministry of Environment and Energy Security, the Region of Puglia, ARTI Puglia – Regional Agency for Technology and Innovation, the Italian Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia, the Taranto Chamber of Commerce, the Ionian Sea Port System Authority, the Air Force, the Jonian Dolphin Association, IRSA-CNR, the University of Bari, the Bari Polytechnic University, LUM University – Libera Università Mediterranea “Giuseppe Degennaro, the University of Foggia, the University of Salento, and CHIEAM Bari.

Media partners for the event were Adnkronos, La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno, lo Jonio, Antenna Sud, Radio Cittadella and Il Tacco di Bacco. Technical Partners instead were Smallfish, San Marzano, Lorelux, Acqua Orsini, Bernardi Cioccolato, Centrale del Latte, and Molo Sant’Eligio.

To find out more about Re-think, visit the website of the event.

Francesco Castellano

Francesco Castellano holds a Master degree in Business Administration, and he has gathered almost twenty years of experience in research, finance, consulting, and business management. During this time, he was engaged in different types of projects as a consultant at Bain & Company, launched Uber operations in Turin, and worked in the FP&A department at General Electric.Lately, he founded To... Read more

Francesco Castellano holds a Master degree in Business Administration, and he has gathered almost twenty years of experience in research, finance, consulting, and business management. During this time, he was engaged in different types of projects as a consultant at Bain & Company, launched Uber operations in Turin, and worked in the FP&A department at General Electric.

Lately, he founded Tondo, a cluster of organizations focusing on spreading Circular Economy approaches and concepts, and supporting companies in the transition to a clean and circular future. Francesco is also the ideator and coordinator of the Re-think Circular Economy Forum, a format of events organized in many different locations in Italy showcasing the most relevant Circular Economy solutions.

Francesco has been a guest speaker at different universities and events, like Federico II University, Bocconi University, LIUC - Cattaneo University, Pavia University, Padua University, Catholic University, IPE Business School, 24ORE Business School, Campus Party, Torino Stratosferica, Visionary Days.

Francesco is passionate about Circular Economy, Cleantech Innovations, Venture Building and Entrepreneurship.