The experience at Impact Hub Syracuse of Ana, digital nomad in Sicily

The concept of digital nomad at the gates of 2021 embraces meaning, experience, professionalism and multifaceted and multifaceted modes. Every year there are many digital nomads from all over the world to bring their baggage of experiences, stories, networks and skills among the desks of our coworking space in Siracusa. Each with their own way: those who define themselves as a digital nomad in the soul and can’t work for more than a month from the same city, those who instead give themselves a few months to breathe new air, enter new networks and live new human and educational experiences. This is the case of Ana, a Spanish girl from Madrid who came to Impact Hub Siracusa to work thanks to the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs program. For six months, Ana was able to immerse herself in the “Impact Hub Experience” by living every day the coworking space and confronting with our community of social innovators and digital nomads.

In an email she writes us: “My experience in Syracuse was beautiful! I worked for six months in the coworking space where I learned a lot about social innovation. I had a great time with the Impact Hub team because the working environment is familiar and empathetic. Moreover, working with Impact Hub Syracuse, gave me the opportunity to get to know the social activity in the area (ranging from art, to gastronomy, to culture and education) and above all, to learn more about the most virtuous companies in terms of innovation and sustainability. I would say that the strong point of Impact Hub Siracusa is networking and being a bridge between the local territory and entrepreneurs abroad or in other regions of Italy. Impact Hub events have also been moments of great sharing useful to exchange and develop opinions, inspirations and social knowledge. What I found in Ortigia is the perfect place for any entrepreneur who needs, or is looking for support for his project, thanks to networking skills and expertise on innovation, financing and business development. In addition, the space is beautiful and is located in the center of Ortgia (useful to visit all the tourist places and have lunch at the beach during the beautiful days).

Social innovation in Sicily starting from ethical work in prisons

L’Arcolaio is a Social Cooperative born in 2003 from the collaboration of its founder, Giovanni Romano, with the administration of the Syracuse Penitentiary and the consortium of social cooperatives Con.solida.s, experts in the management of work integration programs for disadvantaged people. A project that was born with the aim of countering the punitive vision of detention, offering training and professional programs focused on the human and emotional dimension of prisoners and enhancing individual skills. Since the beginning of the program, in fact, prisoners have been able to have a work experience regularly contracted and paid, benefiting from training opportunities and psychological support.

Initially the cooperative was engaged in the production of organic bread, but the commercial difficulties encountered to position the product on the market, pushes towards the organic, gluten-free and fair trade production of almond pastries and other traditional Sicilian sweets. This is how a couple of years later the Dolci Evasioni brand was born, which conquered the national market through stores specialized in organic and fair trade products, fair trade stores and fair trade buying groups.

A few years later, the cooperative wants to grow the activities carried out within the prison and plans to develop a branch of the project and turn it to catering. It is precisely this new idea that brings them to us, in Impact Hub Siracusa. After a phase of evaluation and analysis carried out together with our team, L’Arcolaio is the first client to be included in the Jeremie Sicilia project, promoted by Banca Etica. Through the Jeremie Fund, in fact, the Region of Sicily and the European Investment Fund have allocated resources to support the development of Sicilian SMEs operating for social purposes. The objective, to follow it with an investigation for the access to microcredit.

Giovanni Romano, continues to be a major player in the activities of social impact on Syracuse, as well as always present in the local activities of Impact Hub. Like us, he firmly believes in the power of the networks and resources of our territory. Today the game is open: and is to create the conditions to generate impact on the territory by uniting the public with the private, the profit with the non-profit, with the aim of restructuring the economy of the territory.

An innovative enterprise in Sicily: Laboo Design

The story of Laboo Design is that of an innovative and young company rooted in love for the Sicilian territory. The Laboo project is the brainchild of four young people, all Sicilian back home and all with very different backgrounds, studies and areas of expertise. They share two shared passions: one for Sicily and one for bamboo. A material capable of releasing oxygen into the air. During their periods of research, they got to know all the characteristics and possibilities to apply it in bio-building and in the creation of everyday objects, and with the aim of creating sustainable design, Laboo began to design the first prototypes.

So in January 2015, the first bamboo bicycle was designed and built “Unique Movement”. In April 2016 Laboo wins the call for start-up “From idea to project” and joins the Impact Hub Siracusa circuit with a one-year incubation period: a period dedicated to in-depth analysis of marketing, business plan, market analysis and business development. A path that has supported the company in entering the market with strategic planning and new value partnerships.

Four years later, Laboo develops architectural solutions with bamboo elements and eco-compatible materials, following the processes from design to implementation. In addition, with the aim of creating production chains at KM0, the project manages bamboo groves in Sicily and promotes planting at a local level by organizing training sessions for industry experts, architects, engineers, designers and entrepreneurs.

Interreg Volunteer Youth (IVY) is the European Volunteer Programme that offers the possibility to experience Interregional Volunteer Projects

What is Interreg Volunteer Youth? The acronym suggests interaction between regions. Interreg is in fact a funding structure for cross-border and international initiatives between border regions (and not only) made available by the European Commission. Thanks to IVY, children of European citizenship between 18 and 30 years old can contribute to strengthening cross-border cooperation in the European Union in various ways and in different projects. Interreg projects include different fields of activity, from environmental protection to political participation, from social innovation to creativity. We at Impact Hub Siracusa are among the many beneficiary structures throughout Europe, and we host cyclically volunteers who support us in our activities.


IVY volunteers at Impact Hub Siracusa

Maura Scollo, born in 1992, talks about her experience with IVY:


“My experience as a volunteer Ivy, part of the ENISIE project, Interreg Italy-Malta programme, began in January 2020 at the Impact Hub Siracusa headquarters.. During this experience I participated in many activities, including the organization and management of small events. I have participated in the realization of events focused on the sharing of projects and initiatives by collaborators or stakeholders of the community and I have taken care of hosting activities in the coworking space. One month after the start of the project the space was closed due to COVID-19, and many of our regular appointments have been digitized. So Virtual Social Lunch were born, which allowed us to stay in touch with the community and expand our network. The themes addressed during the eleven Social Lunches allowed me to enrich my knowledge of local food realities with an innovative and sustainable approach. I also collaborate with the team in the monitoring of public tenders, an activity that allows me to get to know new tools. Overall, IVY has provided me with a wealth of new skills: from the use of digital tools, to the acquisition of technical, organizational and managerial skills in the workspace and events. Getting in touch with cross-border cooperation projects has allowed me to get to know the work of the European Union closely, increasing my sense of belonging and my desire to engage in solidarity projects”.


Mariam Suheli Chrouda has been with us since March 2020, but the lock-down has not compromised her IVY volunteer activities at Impact Hub Siracusa:

“My Ivy experience at Impact Hub, in the context of the ENISIE project, Interreg Italy-Malta programme, started in March 2020, coinciding with the lock-down caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting such an important adventure in such a difficult moment pushed me to dedicate myself (maybe with even more enthusiasm) to the activities of the IH Siracusa team. In these months I have had the opportunity to discover the value of team building. Cohesion, mutual understanding and coordination were in fact key elements in the management of activities remotely and in my entry into the team. Despite the distance I had the opportunity to acquire new skills and to get in touch with new people and organizations from all parts of the European Union and neighbouring third countries. Zoom’s rooms have become my office, Asana’s tasks my personal agenda. Between one staff meeting and another this Ivy experience allowed me to understand even more the values promoted by the EU through the Interreg programmes and the crucial importance of social innovation as a resilience tool for the present and the future that awaits us.”


Alba Bellofiore, law graduate:

“Last September I had no idea what a work package was, I had never heard the word “impact” spoken so frequently and had never spent so much time building a “vision”. With the IVY path in the INTERREG ENISIE Project, I was able to participate in the creation of actions to offer innovative services to SMEs, and I gained new skills and awareness of how important social responsibility is for institutions and companies. In the reports to report on voluntary activities it is required to self-assess the sense of belonging to the European Union: for me it has always been full and decisive at the beginning of my path as now. With Impact Hub, thanks to my participation in the ENISIE project, in the activities carried out in space, and with the trip to Rome on the occasion of the Cooperation Day, I have touched what I had only read so far in books and on the web. Being a volunteer gave me the opportunity to be a part of the general picture, and to admire the work of the European Union from the centre of the Mediterranean.”


Sara Curcio Raiti, IVY volunteer at Impact Hub Siracusa in 2019:

“It was incredible to feel part of Europe while continuing to work in Italy. Thanks to this experience, I was able to fit into an international working environment and maximize my professional skills in the field of communication and public relations. Until a few months ago, the concept of Europe was a kind of chimera for me. Today I can say that I have experienced the beauty of being part of a large community where different languages and cultures can coexist and be strong together.”

Interreg Volunteer Youth

Clémence du Tertre IVY volunteer at Impact Hub Siracusa in 2019:

“When I was offered a volunteering position for six months in Sicily as part of a European cross-border cooperation project, I did not hesitate for a moment! At first I didn’t know much about Interreg programmes and projects, but already after the first week I found the work I had been given exciting. Since I am a translator and our project involves Italian and English-speaking people, I was able to manage the interpreting by facing the challenge of translating from Italian into English without my mother tongue, French. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to be invited to participate in the European Week of Regions and Cities, which took place in Brussels. I met other volunteers, discovered new projects and learned a lot about EU cohesion policy. We also participated in numerous events and conferences of our choice. In short, I have never felt so close to the EU! I also had the honour to present the IVY initiative during a workshop organised by the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions and Media Euractiv, presenting the concrete results of cohesion policy, a great opportunity to network and meet stakeholders from different countries.”

Antonio Perdichizzi is founder and director of Tree, a national company that helps people, start-ups and corporations to make innovation feasible. One of the first innovative SMEs in Italy, aiming at sustainable growth, a team able to offer a system of vertical and transversal skills developed in different markets. Open Innovation, Education and Communication are the three pillars of Tree.

Antonio is also president of Junior Achievement Italia, the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to entrepreneurial education for middle and high school students.

Together we have worked on the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem with high contamination potential, in the combination of social innovation and technological innovation. In addition to the elaboration of business plans and several business development plans for educational projects with a high social impact, thanks to our support, we obtained several institutional and European funding. 

The team of Impact Hub Syracuse has also worked on the elaboration of Tree’s Corporate Social Report: an essential tool for measuring the social, environmental and economic impact of the company on the national territory.

Imprenditoria siciliana: Magneti Cowork

Sicilian entrepreneurship is made up of stories of innovative and passionate young entrepreneurs. Like Giuseppe, who wanted to start a coworking space in Palermo and turned to us to confront with those who already had experience in managing a similar activity.

From this meeting a long term collaboration was born: thanks to the business development services we supported Giuseppe in the construction of the project, identifying a business model that could work for his city and his neighborhood. With a market analysis work we structured the offer and thanks to the business plan Magneti Cowork obtained the access to the credit necessary to start the investments that allowed him to open.

After almost 4 years, Magneti Cowork has grown and added new elements to its business. Always in continuous dialogue with the market, with customers and partners on a different way of coworking and doing business.

Today, in this complex and delicate moment, we want to renew our support to Giuseppe and his company, which will continue to be a source of inspiration.

Innovative Sicilian entrepreneurship

An unconventional Sicilian entrepreneur, Diego Bongiovanni has for years relied on the support of the Impact Hub Syracuse team to enrich his research and development projects with elements of open innovation, social and environmental impact.

Aion Lab is his company and specializes in technological applications for the traceability of things and people moving in a space-time domain, such as the management of ticket offices and integrated services for maritime transport, festivals and major events. Together, we worked on the identification of new market perspectives, analysis of competitors and the implementation of new business strategies for the delicate transformation of a B2B technological project into a multi-service platform scalable to various socio-economic contexts. We identified four new markets for the technologies developed, prototyped the platform “MECCANISMI – smart event optimizer” following the principles of service design and defined a business plan for the expansion and growth of the company.

The result: the attraction of a major investment to relaunch the company internationally, consolidating the foundations in Sicily through the creation of a new Innovation Hub.