The machine has been set in motion again, but there is still work to be doneInterview with professor Gurisatti, who tells us about his experience at the head of the Italian Leather Research Institute. A lot of work has been done, but the “challenge still to be won is to make it become a an efficiency model of PA”
The relaunch and development plan of the Italian Leather Research Institute for the Leather Industry (SSIP) is a work in progress that represents a challenge in many respects. Its current organizational structure is the result of the work of the outgoing president Paolo Gurisatti, industrial economist and university professor, who, in the last three years, created the conditions to transform the Station into a laboratory that is a leader in the research and certification not only of the tanning sector, but more generally of the products for the circular economy.
Professor, the Institute has finally turned the page. What is your assessment of the first three years of work?
“I end my presidency feeling greatly satisfied, because I found an old and rusty machine, left in the garage for many years, and I succeeded in getting it back on the road. The problems were many: there was no general manager, nor a Board of Directors, and above all there was no strategic vision. After three years of work, we finally have a functioning structure that is implementing a programme full of important activities and projects both in terms of research and of training. Soon the new laboratories will be operational, new research lines have begun, in Veneto a new course in higher technical instruction was started, in Campania the leather Polytechnic was born whose aim is to offer a training proposal at an international level… In brief, it was three long, tough years but both the organizational and strategic aspects have now been completed”.
What were the main obstacles you had to face?
“The biggest obstacle was to find a system of governance between the three main partners the structure refers to, that is to say, the Chambers of Commerce of Pisa, Napoli and Vicenza. The statute obliges the partners to decide unanimously and this rule, which obviously exists for a reason, has made the journey difficult, obliging the partners to share a single vision. As one can easily imagine, the need to always find broad agreements was not easy to manage, also because the Chamber of Commerce of Naples was at the time placed under temporary receivership and furthermore, it does not represent the tanning district of Solofra directly, which refers to Avellino. All these anomalies have undoubtedly complicated our work but ultimately the results have arrived, also thanks to the determination of Italian tanners, who, despite the problems, have never lost faith, starting with president Gianni Russo, who has personally made a big effort to relaunch the institute, understanding its strategic importance for the sector”.
What is instead the result you are most proud of?
“That of having offered my contribution as a researcher in redefining the strategic mission of the Research Institute, which, today, unlike before, operates in all its activities in terms of sustainability, circular economy, enhancement of industrial waste. Thanks to this realignment, I hope that in the future the Institute can become, besides a specific research laboratory for tanneries, also a model and a more general reference model for other industries processing organic substances – for example the food industry – which must enter into the logic of the circular economy. In my opinion, this the real challenge of the future: to study and certificate not only the tanning processes but also and especially the techniques for the recovery of organic waste and segregation of polluting chemical products. In this respect, the Institute can get to play a research and orientation role, having a useful function not only for the tanning industry, which obviously gains competitivity from this situation, but also as a model for other industries that have similar problems.
You remain in the Board of Directors for the next three years. What role do you intend to play?
“I will gladly go back to being a researcher, an analyst of the innovation processes to face the extremely complex frontier of the circular economy, leaving to the general manager and the new president Balducci – who, being a tanner and an experienced chemist, has excellent skills – the task of continuing and completing the renewal process undertaken”.
Is there anything you wish you had done better, a result that you were not able to obtain?
“I would have liked to do more. A reason for dissatisfaction is that of not having been able to transform a typically Italian public research structure into an efficiency model of public administration. I really would have liked to end my mandate being able to tell the story of a total success. Instead, there is still a lot of work to be done, but I am certain that the new president will be able to take that step forward which will make it possible to win the challenge, thus proving that a public structure can work even better than a private centre”.