On February 23rd 2023 Assistant Professor Alessandro Tamburini had the great honour to be an invited speaker at the inauguration ceremony of the new academic year at the Università degli studi di Palermo, presenting to an audience of dignitaries inlcuding President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. Professor Tamburini is a senior researcher within SEArcularMINE's co-ordinating partner organisation Università degli studi di Palermo (UNIPA) and also holds the post of CEO of another of SEArcularMINE's partner organisations ResourSEAs (RES) a UNIPA spin-off company. 


Notable attendees were 

Ursula von der Leyen         President of the European Commission 

Sergio Mattarella                President of the Italian Republic 

Renato Schifani                   President of the Sicilian Region 

Anna Maria Bernini            Italian Minister of University and Research 

Roberto Lagalla                   Mayor of Palermo city 

Teresa Maria Cucinotta     Prefect of Palermo 

Massimo Midiri                  Rector of the University of Palermo 


President von der Leyen’s first act as European Commission President was to launch The Green Deal which is focused on Europe becoming the first climate-neutral continent.  In her opening Keynote speech (read in detail here) she discussed the strategic importance of Sicily -  


"Today, I am here to tell you that Sicily is at the centre of Europe. Sicily is in the core of the European project…Because this beautiful island is absolutely central to addressing some of the greatest issues of our times. First, for the transition to clean energy. Second, for migration. Third, for building an economy that works for Europe's next generation." 



President Von der Leyen expressed the urgency of the clean transition due to recent global events and highlighted the importance of Sicily as a European clean energy powerhouse due to the strong clean-tech industrial base. 


In line with ResourSEAs’ vision, Alessandro’s speech illustrated the importance of sustainability in innovation.  He highlighted efforts in the southern regions of Europe to develop a circular economy of brines from saltworks and gave an outline of the SEArcularMINE project. 



"Here in Palermo, the University is currently co-ordinating a research project, which we conceived and patented, for the design and prototype development of a totally integrated circular process for the valorisation of sea water through the recovery of valuable resources from the sea.   In this circular process the waste of each unit becomes the raw materials of value for the subsequent step.  The whole Mediterranean basin is rich in minerals with high added value such as lithium, which is essential for batteries, and magnesium considered critical to the European community because it currently depends strongly on non-EU markets."