INTERVIEW WITH VINCENZO ZONNO

December 4th is approaching and we are curious to know the protagonists and the themes of the event.
Today we speak with Vincenzo Zonno, Head of the Research Center for Fisheries and Aquaculture at the Università del Salento, who is coordinating one of the “project work subgroups” of the Entrefish project.

Let’s start from the beginning: what is the theme of your Project Work?

Our project work is part of the theme of environmental sustainability of aquaculture, therefore of the breeding of aquatic organisms, be they fish, molluscs or crustaceans.
The project addresses the issue of environmental sustainability, but also with an eye to economic sustainability.

It simple means that our project aims to meet a specific need: all animal farms, both land and water, can have a negative impact on the environment; this happens even if the farms have reached a level of optimization that is rather important thanks to the technology that makes it possible to improve the production cycles and the efficiency of the feeds.

Zoo-technical activities produce organic waste that, if not controlled, can have a negative impact on the environment.
Compared to farm animals, however, in the aquaculture world the wastewater is quantitatively reduced even if, operating in the aquatic environment, they are more difficult to treat. The idea is, however, to recover these organic waste, which mainly occur in the form of sediments, therefore mainly composed of feed residues, faeces, algae and other types of debris, and enhance them through their transformation and reuse as fertilizers and / or soil improvers in the agricultural sector.

The objective is twofold: to give greater environmental sustainability to farms, then to producers, breeders, and on the other hand to try to enhance a product that is currently released into the environment, but which, if reused, will increase profitability of the installations.

How is your group made up?

The group is composed of young graduates in scientific disciplines, in particular of the biological branch, therefore mostly graduated in biology and environmental sciences, with an external contribution also of graduates in economics disciplines. I mainly deal with research and development of technology, which is why I set up a spin-off about 10 years ago, dealing with these issues.
A winning key of this project will be the collaboration, already in the phase of establishing the new Start-up, with the university spin-off, which is the Subject that has acquired the knowledge and developed, at the prototype level, the technology and the methodology, that will be used by the new company, for the definitive launch of products and services on the market.

At what point are you with the works?

In these days we are defining the details of the business plan; therefore we are closing all the economic – financial part with the identification of the necessary costs and resources, both human and instrumental; of the customers, through the deepening of the existing market analysis, thanks to the activities of previous research and innovation projects, financed by the EU and by the MIUR and the Puglia Region, which concern this specific topic.
We are also making an assessment of the investments and, of course, the sales forecasts of the first 5 years of the Company’s life, to verify and demonstrate the economic sustainability of the company.

We come to December 4th!

On December 4th we think we can already present the complete project in all its parts; then we will present, to the potential beneficiaries of our services and our products, the constituting company that will realize and sell this type of products. We have reached the point where we need to start working, also from the point of view of communication, because there is a specific market requirement.

How would you describe this experience?

Overall I would call this experience very positive because I met some young people who were prepared and with excellent motivations; of the people who have worked hard, an energetic group in which none of the members has ever thrown in the towel and where people see good employment opportunities.
Personally, I hope that, after years of research and development, we can finally put into practice the results achieved and that this new business idea can respond to market needs by satisfying the demands of breeders and other operators in the sector.