Striking the right balance between tourism and conservation can be challenging, especially when you’re working with culturally significant geological sites. Lean too far in one direction and you risk either driving away tourists and their money or permanently damaging an important landmark. That’s where the ExtraGEO team comes in.
Founded by seven enterprising geologists in 2015, ExtraGEO – EXport of Techniques and Research Applied to GEOlogy – is a collaboration between the geologists and the University of Basilicata’s Department of Sciences. They focus on scientific research applied to the promotion, enhancement, and protection of the geological heritage in the Basilicata region of southern Italy.
“We started thinking about ExtraGEO when the concept of geosite began to be considered a real development opportunity for the territory,” said Giammarco Guidette, ExtraGEO CEO. “We spent a lot of time focusing on a good project for the exploitation and valorisation of geosites. Today we thank Shell LiveWIRE programme for all the support received with aim to organise and direct our energies and ideas towards the goal.”
For the ExtraGEO team, support from Shell InventaGIOVANI, the Shell LiveWIRE programme in Italy, was critical to getting their business off the ground.
“The Shell InventaGIOVANI enterprise training programme helped us to evaluate the business potential, develop our business model and finally start up,” said Guidetti. “They equipped us with the essential management skills to run a successful business, especially in the areas of strategic planning, accounting, sales, marketing, and customer service.”
Giving geoscience a business focus enables ExtraGEO to protect the local geological heritage and mitigate georisks, while boosting sustainable tourism and partnering with Shell to power awareness of energy issues among young people. ExtraGEO does this through training projects, educational programmes, and geotrekking activities. They also support local administrations manage their natural resources using a sustainable tourism perspective.
In 2017, they competed in Shell LiveWIRE’s Top Ten Innovators Competition, a global competition that highlights and rewards LiveWIRE businesses that demonstrate excellence in innovation. ExtraGEO took home a merit award and $5,000 USD in prize funding.
“Shell LiveWIRE Top Ten Innovators gave us the opportunity to improve our services and to increase our business,” said Guidetti.
The ExtraGEO team used the funding to enhance the training, research, and marketing. For instance, the team invested in new laboratory equipment and advanced interactive training resources. By enhancing their training and research, the team was able to deliver an international conference on geosites and publish the research. This in turn led to expanded professional networks and an enhanced profile within the scientific community.
The ExtraGEO team has also partnered with Shell Italy to deliver the Geoscuola programme. Geoscuola provides students between the ages of 11 and 14 with a series of lectures, field visits, educational videos, experiments, and games to enhance their knowledge of basic geology. Geoscuola also teaches the students about local geosites – places of geological interest and importance that can also become tourist centres. By nurturing children’s interest in sustainability, ExtraGEO can help protect these important geological sites for generations to come.