Carbon recycling by developing innovative catalysis


The Italy-based start-up “Innovative Catalysis for Carbon Recycling” (IC2R) has brought forward carbon recycling by developing innovative catalysis. The work done by the start-up is built on CO2 as a feedstock and biomass valorization. By developing new chemical reactions and catalysts to transform spent carbon into more valuable and sustainable products such as chemicals, materials, or fuels, IC2R has become a key experienced player in the process of creating value from biomass waste or CO2.

Year of Foundation:

November 2013

Addresses the following SDGs:

SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy), SDG 9 (industry, innovation, and infrastructure), SDG 13 (climate action) and SDG 17 (partnerships for the goals).


a laboratory
IC2R's facilities
a man and a woman
Michele Aresta and Prof. Angela Dibenedetto
laboratory measurements
IC2R's laboratory

A new perspective on the way CO2 exists

When Prof. Michele Aresta, IC2R’s CEO and founder, was to step down from his duties at the University of Bari, he took an unconventional path to remain close to chemistry: to become an entrepreneur by founding a start-up dedicated to innovation. Together with Prof. Angela Dibenedetto, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis at the University of Bari and president of the Scientific Committee of IC2R, Michele started to work for a new paradigm of CO2 and its place in the decades to come. Shifting its role from being a waste product to a valuable resource for materials was the main motivation to follow. Therefore, Michele and Angela decided to combine their expertise in industrial chemistry and biochemistry to develop catalysts and clean processes for effective CO2 recycling. Through the years, they have been successful in creating an extensive patent portfolio showcasing their results in various reactions. The start-up decided on the use of abundant inexpensive metals as catalysts that can be recovered and reused to minimize waste. Additionally, solventless or water conditions were implemented being less invasive to the environment than traditional ones. Their use of cellulosic and oily biomass, which are of non-edible sources, complements a sustainable approach to resources.

‘We have always been convinced that CO2 is a resource, not a waste, to be used as a source of carbon, for making chemicals, materials and fuel. It is a matter of finding the right energy source for bringing it up. This is the new paradigm for CO2 that is coming out.’Michele Aresta, stated.

Turning the Circular Economy into a reality

By choosing to reduce biomass waste and recycle CO2, one of the primary greenhouse gases, IC2R’s work is one that follows and reinforces the concept of Circular Economy. With the way IC2R has built their processes, they have been able to set up a system that changes the way we interact with carbon, minimizing waste and maximizing its potential as a resource. In 2018, IC2R was selected as one of the ten best Start-up promoting the Circular Economy in Italy. The key to their technology lies in the diversity in which it can be implemented across industries. The effective establishment of carbon recycling techniques is key in its prospect to mitigate and reduce the effects of climate change. Following a business to business (B2B) model has allowed IC2R to have fruitful collaborations for the joint mission of developing then applying innovative processes with varied companies. The reduction of CO2 accumulation into the atmosphere is an emerging reality that the industry will have to adapt and implement. IC2R hopes to continue their support of this transition and lead the sector into a new era of effective carbon recycling technologies.

Next up at IC2R

The Start-up is currently looking at building their future. Whilst maintaining their already existing immediate link to chemistry, they are dedicated to further enhance their commitment to building a circular economy and hope to encourage others to soon follow. The potential to connect with new partners and investors, locally and internationally, who would like to join the growing field of innovative catalysts and carbon recycling is highly welcomed.