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The opening

Do you live around Belluno, Alpago or Feltre (in the Province of Belluno, Northern Italy) and have an idea or desire to start an innovative business/entrepreneurial activity?

This invitation brought about 60 local people from all sectors – politicians, students, farmers, architects, volunteers, cooperatives and associations among others-, to the inaugural meeting held in Belluno on May 8th.

Figure 2. Sign-up sheets and brochures of SIMRA and Etifor. Belluno, 8th May 2018. Photo by Kamini Vicentini.
Figure 2. Sign-up sheets and brochures of SIMRA and Etifor. Belluno, 8th May 2018. Photo by Kamini Vicentini.

During the opening meeting of the Innovation Action, the Local Action Group (LAG) Prealpi e Dolomiti, the University of Padova and Etifor, introduced the program by contextualising it within the geographical area of Prealpi and Dolomiti, providing a brief overview of the present situation, its characteristics and trends. The director of the LAG discussed how the topic of youth entrepreneurship was relevant to the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically linking the program to SDG n. 8 (decent work and economic growth).

Figure 3. SIparte contributes to SDG 8. Belluno, 8th May 2018. Photo by Kamini Vicentini
Figure 3. SIparte contributes to SDG 8. Belluno, 8th May 2018. Photo by Kamini Vicentini

Prof. Laura Secco then provided an overview of the SIMRA project, highlighting the concepts of human and social capital, social innovation and describing what an innovation action represents within SIMRA. Inspiring examples of social innovation from different parts of the country were later presented by four speakers. They encompassed a variety of sectors, including technology and sustainable tourism (AdaptEv) organic agriculture (Bio2), network of enterprises (Valbelluna Green Net), community cooperatives (I Briganti di Cerreto), and the restoration of abandoned sites through visual arts (Dolomiti Contemporanee). In the concluding talk of the evening, the director of Etifor presented the program of SIparte, including the approach adopted throughout the program and the support that will be given to the winning team of the Rural Hackathon.

The first network meeting

Figure 4. Speed-dating. Sedico, 15th May 2018. Photo by Catie Burlando
Figure 4. Speed-dating. Sedico, 15th May 2018. Photo by Catie Burlando

The IA titled “SIparte – Un percorso di innovazione sociale e imprenditoria giovanile”, refers to an eight-month series of events that will focus on social innovation and youth entrepreneurship. The first of three network meetings was attended by 30 young people who were asked to become actively involved in the proposed activities… and the response was positive! As they stepped into the meeting room, they found themselves speed-dating their “classmates”. Expressions of surprise and awkwardness soon changed into big smiles, given the satisfaction of making interesting and useful new contacts. The second part of the meeting revolved around roundtable discussions on what future scenarios would take place in the area. This activity, developed around smaller round tables, enabled participants to dwell into the economic, political, environmental, social and technological outlook of Valbelluna in 5 years time. This concrete and foreseeable future provided the ground for a final, individual activity of brainstorming of ideas that could help address emerging needs in Valbelluna. The message for the day was: “Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers!” (Seth Godin).

The second network meeting

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Figure 5. Some of the activities carried out during the second network meeting in Limana, 15th May, 2018. Photos by Catie Burlando

The second network meeting focused on the more specific components of a business model canvas. The activities focused on the first three components of the model: Customers, Value proposition and Communication channels. From the start, participants were asked to analyse the results of the previous meeting (summarised in 4-5 bullet points), and then write a suggestion for a business idea that would help address the problem. They were then asked to choose three, and after a presentation of the ideas, work in groups to identify their target customer and how they would address their needs and reach them.

After a final presentation, everybody participated in a ‘market place’ activity (including the facilitators), to share what they could offer to other businesses and what they were seeking in turn.

It will be four months before we meet again. The LAG will be available during this time to provide more information on the program and share contacts that can be useful to the single teams that will participate in the Rural Hackathon in the fall.

The program has only just begun, but we promise to keep you updated!

Authors:

Kamini Vicentini (Università di Padova)
Kamini Vicentini (Università di Padova)
Catie Burlando (ETIFOR)
Catie Burlando (ETIFOR)

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