New Prato:
Innovation insight

Chiara Vita

This month we interviewed Dr. Chiara Vita, Operations Manager of the QUMAP Laboratory - Goods Quality and Product Reliability Laboratory.

(Q): Hi Chiara, would you like to tell us about your career path?
(A): I was born in Prato in 1986 and my university career started right at Pin with a degree in Economics and Quality Engineering. My desire to enroll, precisely in what was called EIQ at the time, was dictated by the desire to investigate issues that I already knew as I had dealt with ISO Quality Management Systems at a company in our area. It was a world that I found extremely fascinating and inspiring. In the middle of my journey, I met Prof. Romani, I attended two courses taught by her, and the more I knew the product sector, the more I was curious about this concept, I began to understand that those notions were the starting point for being able to understand and analyze processes. productive. And it was precisely that curiosity that led me to be a researcher, in fact to anyone who asks me why she is pushed to work in the world of research I answer with a single word: curiosity. Yes, because for me curiosity is the spring that pushes you to venture into a new project every time. Discovering a new production process every time and how to optimize its phases and minimize waste is always something fascinating.
Tell me about the QUMAP
Team Professor Romani, scientific director of the Laboratory, has built a multidisciplinary research group:

there are those like me who have an economic background, some pharmaceutical, chemical or food science. All the skills present in the group are enhanced and allow us to work in an integrated and synergistic way on each project.

Can you tell us some of the projects you work on?
The sectors we work for are so many, just as I said previously, the world of commodities is closely correlated with the world of production. We work in different sectors and in this sense I could bring you many examples from the agri-food sector, to the cosmetic, cosmeceutical, nutraceutical, agronomic, tanning, dairy sector up to green building, or to the luxury goods and fashion sector.
Wow, so the applications of your studies are potentially endless.
Well let's start from the assumption that our laboratory at its birth had focused its activities on what is now one of the most discussed issues, I'm talking about the circular economy, which at the time was not as well established as it is today. Keep in mind that our laboratory deals with the recovery of waste and by-products from the agri-food sector for the production of extracts rich in active ingredients to be allocated to completely differentiated sectors. Obviously, all in compliance with the concept of circular economy, therefore through the use of green and sustainable technologies that make it possible to obtain extracts with functional and biological properties that allow their possible use in various sectors.

Often companies are able to derive a double advantage from the reuse of waste from their processing, first of all because they decrease the costs of disposal and also have the opportunity to make further gains from the use of extracts.
There are so many examples in this sense of companies that collaborate with us, from companies in the olive oil sector that have implemented multifunctional platforms for the recovery of active ingredients from pruning and olive processing waste, to companies in the wine sector that have used processing by-products for the production of new functional food ingredients or for the production of supplements, up to the production of bio-leathers.
The list would still be long, for example, another company extracts chestnut tannins for use in different sectors, from tanning, to agronomic, to animal feed by virtue of the antioxidant and antimicrobial properties recognized in these extracts. This company was born as a multilayer producer and thanks to a continuous mission aimed at the concept of sustainability and circularity it has managed to diversify its production and still continues to invest in R&D to expand the sectors to which to allocate their product.
Speaking of another product, I could give you the example of kiwi, which not everyone knows is an excellent source of vitamin C, greater than even orange. Even in this case, our collaborations with some companies allow us to obtain functional ingredients or innovative transformed products thanks to the recovery of low-caliber products, which by law would not be salable.