Mountains for youth: the experience of SIparte in Valbelluna, northeastern Italy

By going to University to study or leaving for a year abroad to work, many young people decide to settle in areas with opportunities for professional development rather than returning to their place of birth. Out-migration of professional youth, coupled with ageing and depopulation, especially plague many mountain areas. Youth that wish to remain confront the lack of meaningful jobs, suited to their professional experience.

In Valbelluna, located in the Veneto region, an innovation action was developed together with the Local Action Group Prealpi e Dolomiti, the Tesaf department of the University of Padova and Etifor, to foster new networks of youth interested in exploring new business ideas connected to the promotion of social innovation and sustainability. To read about the activities that were carried out as part of SIparte, a social innovation of the SIMRA project, please visit our website or connect to the facebook page SIparte:

In English:

In Italian:

The SI action SIparte started in November 2017 and was concluded in September 2019. The first part of SIparte comprised initial meetings and planning between the University of Padova, Etifor and the Local Action Group (LAG) Dolomiti e Prealpi to define the strategy, plan the activities and identify local interested actors from the territory. Follow-up meetings with local stakeholders were held to share the initiative, address specific issues and tailor it more specifically to the local context. This identification phase helped local stakeholder feel ownership over the initiative and help the sharing of the initiative with potentially interested youth.

In the first part of 2018, SIparte developed an orientation, networking and training program structured in five different moments and activities scheduled to accommodate for young entrepreneurs. The themes developed were social innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking, new business models, assessment and the social value of business. The activities included an opening event, three networking meetings, one learning exchange with ECOSTAR, an ERASMUS project focused on nature-based business ideas that was held in Padova over the summer of 2018, four study visits in Valbelluna, and one Rural Hackathon organised in October 2018 to support thinking around the most promising ideas.

The networking meetings and the Rural Hackahton were designed adopting participatory methodologies and were led by both Etifor and the Tesaf Department of the University of Padova. These included speed dating, world café, marketplace, future scenarios, role playing and group activities and discussions. These techniques allowed participants to understand and apply the concepts to their own ideas.

The teams proposed ideas on the recuperation of marginalised lands through the facilitation of market exchange (Team Terre d’incontro), the development of a new area for families (ParteciParco), hand-made paper in a historical paper complex (LaCharta), organisation of mountain bike tours in more marginal areas (Bon Viaz), the development of slow tourism based in smaller mountain communities (L’altra Montagna) and the development of a large event to kick start the creation of a local cooperative (We have a dream). At the Hackathon, teams worked non-stop for thirty hours through a series of guided activities to refine their ideas and develop a pitch. The work and their presentations were then assessed by a jury of four people. The selected team, Terre d’incontro, underwent face-to-face coaching activities to upgrade the initiative from the idea to a concrete business plan.


Catie Burlando (ETIFOR)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>