Presentation of the "Alpenhanf 360°" project at the Biolife trade fair in Bolzano, Italy

Submitted by Sara Daniotti on 17 November 2023

2_© Rupert Asanger

Author: Dipl. Geogr. Jasmin Baruck, Standortagentur Tirol 

The HempCluB's project partner Standortagentur Tirol, Austria, supports and assists companies with innovations, funding, start-ups, sustainable growth, and networking between business and science. This strengthens Tirol as a business location in harmony with ecological interests in the long term. The focus is on future topics such as the circular economy, digitalization, and health. One focus of the Standortagentur Tirol lies in the area of innovations relating to the Alpine circular economy. The aim is to establish regional value chains and cycles, adapted to the special conditions in the Alpine region of Tyrol.

The "Alpine Hemp 360°" project funded by Arge Alp is primarily driving innovation in the cultivation and utilization of hemp plants, their fibres, and ingredients. With a view to the entire life cycle of products, taking into account the dual harvesting system, value chains are also to be redesigned in the sense of the circular economy to promote sustainable growth for the region. The project also aims to network the stakeholders in the partner regions from Austria (Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Salzburg), Germany (Bavaria), Italy (South Tyrol, Trentino, Lombardy), and Switzerland (Ticino, Grisons, St. Gallen) from the fields of agriculture, business, and science.

The project's main outcome is an open network that will be displayed to the public in a traveling exhibition, which will include the Biolife fair in Bolzano, Italy, on November 9-12, 2023. The exhibition concept offers an insight into the potential of the various raw materials. Most of the contributions show projects in development or test phase. The early stages of development, particularly in the technical field, show that the topic of industrial hemp as a technical raw material has gained considerable momentum in recent years. The EU-Cosme project HempCluB is also represented in our network.

Our exhibition stand - embedded between organic apples from Vinschgau and our network partner Profanter Naturbackstube - presented a broad spectrum from harvesting technology, food, building materials, outdoor equipment, textiles, and the end-of-life presentation of products. The stand aroused a lot of interest. Fair visitors took the time to read the texts on the posters at their leisure - the building materials, textiles, skis, and trekking poles have attracted the greatest interest. At the trade fair, four network partners were also present with their stands (Halbfurter, Ecopassion 2.0, Profanter Naturbackstube, and STEVA hemp), so that the hemp theme ultimately occupied the entire exhibition hall.

However, as Biolife is a trade fair where people can buy products, they also wanted to buy a few things from us (i.e., from hemp mustard to insoles and yarns to hats), so we had to refer those who wanted to buy directly to the network partners.

The exhibition's goal was to raise awareness of the various raw materials such as hemp and other natural fibers, and it was certainly a success. We were even able to gain 2 South Tyrolean farmers as new partners. One would like to grow hemp as an alternative crop to apples because it improves soil. The other, a wine grower, would like to give up his second mainstay of animal husbandry and grow hemp on the fodder meadows in the future. 

The exhibition also included the material exploration of the Alpine Hemp 360° follow-up project at the University of Innsbruck, Austria - called GROWN for alpine performance and focuses on prototyping and materials research. Small chairs were presented: 1:10 models of the Eames Chair and realized with various natural fibres such as hemp, flax, nettle, wool, etc., and natural binders. The first 1:1 test will follow in January 2024. The management of the network remains with the Standortagentur Tirol. 

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