Going by sea in a sustainable way: ideas on display at the Innovation Village in Genoa

Going by sea in a sustainable way: ideas on display at the Innovation Village in Genoa


A boat made without using fiberglass, one with a hydrogen engine, a portable laboratory to monitor water quality: the ideas exhibited in theInnovation Village of Genoaset up inside theOcean Live Park on the occasion of the arrival in the city of the homonymous regatta.

Many, beautiful and above all to try and touch: the fundamental aspect of the initiative is that these ideas, selected in the project managed by the Blue District of the Municipality, created with the contribution of the Compagnia di San Paolo Foundation and the Carige Foundation, are abstract but concrete projects that until July 2 people can see live. And of which they can verify the goodness. Which is what we did, choosing the 4 that impressed us the most.

NLComp and recyclable boats

It is the case of Northern Lights Compositesa Friulian startup born in 2019, founded by Fabio Bignolini, Andrea Paduano And Piernicola Paolettiwho brought his own to Genoa EcoracerOD, a 30-foot one-design made entirely of carbon and flax fibre. In short, a recyclable boat: “Over the past fifty years, boats have always been made in the same way – explained Bignolini, who is also the company’s CEO – using thermosetting fiberglass, which makes it impossible to reuse them at the end of their life. of the vessel”. Their technology instead involves the use of a thermoplastic that in a short time can be broken down into the original materials, which can then be reused to build other boats or pieces for other boats: “We started with the prototype of an optimist, then we moved on to a racing boat to demonstrate that this thing can do and that our technology is reliable and can work for everyone”, Bignolini told us again.


NLComp, which between 2020 and 2021 raised funding for just over 700 thousand euros and toured Europe with the EcoracerOD in 2022, does not have the ambition to become a shipyard but to provide its skills to shipyards: “We are in contact with a large Italian company that should produce a boat made like this, to be put on the market at the beginning of 2024”, they anticipated. A sailboat, “then we’ll move on to motor boats and something else too”. more what? “Wind power plants, but also domestic furnishings – Bignolini told us – Wherever there is fiberglass, it can be replaced with our material”.

Hydrogen as fuel

The Genoese also moves in the world of boats H2Boatwhich however deals with engines: created in 2020, it brought its hydrogen engine to the Innovation Village, installed on Nykita, a zero emission boat. The engine can already be bought (and seen in operation in La Spezia, in the Baglietto Shipyards) and can have two purposes: “For small boats, let’s imagine a use intended for propulsion, for movement of the boat – they explained to us – For larger ones large can work as a generator, to produce the electricity needed to power all the on-board devices”.



In addition to obviously being less polluting than a normal diesel engine, the hydrogen engine also has other advantages: solar panels, a hydrogen generator or wind turbines can be used to feed the electrocatalyst used to produce hydrogen (thereby reducing the refueling anxiety) and also is generally less bulky and also less heavy. Which on a boat are fundamental characteristics.

Citizen science done while surfing

Another thing that we really liked, walking along the docks of Ocean Live Park, is BlueBox, a portable laboratory, slightly larger than a normal trolley, which analyzes water quality and provides georeferenced data that can be viewed on the computer. It is citizen science in its purest state: you keep it on your boat, and while sailing you collect information that is useful for the scientific community to understand the state of health of the marine environment.

Oceanhis - Blue Box

Oceanhis – Blue Box

Produced by Oceanhis, a startup born in July 2020 in collaboration with the incubator I3P of the Turin Polytechnic, Blue Box is aimed above all at Italian port and marina managers and at companies that deal with sea cleaning, which in this way can have concrete and verifiable data on the state of health of the waters under their responsibility. Or even to environmental associations, such as Legambiente And Tethysthe research institute that deals with the Cetacean Sanctuarybetween Italy and France.

Printed tiles to repopulate the sea

The project is also dedicated to verifying the state of health of the sea Mar&Motorcycle of the Genoese startup madlab, born in 2015 from a project of the Il Laboratorio cooperative in collaboration with the Science Festival and the School of Robotics. The heart of everything is one 3D clay printer with which to make (simplifying) floor tiles of different shapes and sizes and with a porous, rough and possibly perforated surface, to be positioned underwater (in correspondence with canals or dams) to allow the marine environment to repopulate, which is a bit what they are doing in Australia with the barrier Reef.

The idea is that having smaller tiles, easier to produce, to install and possibly uninstall, can simplify these operations.

Everything else: from the accessible sea to the underwater network

That’s not all, because in Genoa, until the first Sunday in July, other ideas designed for a more sustainable approach to the sea are visible: an underwater and wireless Internet connection network, again for observation and monitoring of the of environmental health, conceived by wsense; the platform Tour4Blue of Tuscany Moebeus to highlight tourism businesses and activities that are characterized by a culture of sustainability; the representation of an artificial reef along a stretch of city coast to talk about integrated management of coastal areas, made by Geoscape; the marine ski lift of the Milan area Swimlifts, which should make the aquatic environment accessible to all; and the recyclable jet skis, made with kelvet and expanded polymer by the startup from the Marches Global E-Solving.


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