Entrepreneurship, education and ecosystems

From January to November 2015, Global Entrepreneurship Week Poland Foundation (Poland), Youth Business Poland, The Edward de Bono Institute (Malta) and Peace Child International (UK) carried out the project 'Best practices in teaching entrepreneurship and creating entrepreneurial ecosystems in Europe', financed by the European Commission as part of Erasmus+.

The project was in response to the low levels of entrepreneurship among young people, leading to maladjustment to the modern labour market, as evidenced by making rash decisions about educational and professional paths, the necessity of taking a job below ambition and qualifications and high levels of unemployment. Entrepreneurship, understood in a broad meaning, is an attitude and approach to life (diligence, activity, courage, self-reliance) that is an essential component to successful and productive inclusion in the labour market and society. 

As part of the project, partners from three countries (UK, Malta and Poland) collected and described effective practices in the field of entrepreneurship education and ecosystems. The opportunities for the exchange of experience consisted of international project meetings, during which participants gathered information about methods and tools of teaching and spoke with practitioners, teachers and NGO representatives. They also visited schools, universities and offices of NGOs.

The result of the project is a publication of conclusions, translated into six languages (Polish, English, German, Italian, Spanish and French). Have a look at the video clip which shows some of the project's highlights and outlines some of the publication's main findings.

The outcomes of this year-long work were presented during meetings in Malta, Poland and the UK, and at an international conference on 16 November 2015 in Poland.

Partner organisations

Partners' meetings

Representatives of four institutions from Poland, Malta and the United Kingdom met at their first international project meeting in Poland. Peace Child International, The Edward de Bono Institute from the University of Malta, Youth Business Poland and Global Entrepreneurship Week Poland Foundation launched their first common project within the Erasmus Plus program, funded by the European Commission. The project, called 'Best practices in teaching entrepreneurship and creating entrepreneurial ecosystems in Europe', will end in September.

During a three-day meeting, partners got to know each other and discussed projects and activities related to entrepreneurship that they carry out in their countries. They also discussed the Erasmus Plus project's time-frame, responsibilities of all parties and next steps which need to be taken in the upcoming months. On the second day of the meeting, the participants visited the Smolna Centre for Entrepreneurship, the Academic Incubators and Business Link office in Zebra Tower in Warsaw.

The Smolna Centre for Entrepreneurship was developed by and is maintained by the City of Warsaw. It hosts an incubator with 40 workplaces designed for nascent entrepreneurs who have been running their business for less than three years. Smolna is also a place where citizens can ask for advice regarding the European Union and EU funds from the Europe Direct information centre and even register their own company.

The Academic Incubators (AIP) is the biggest network of its kind in Poland and one of the biggest in Europe. Partners had the chance to talk to Michał Misztal, AIP Mazovia regional manager, who talked about how incubators are expanding in Poland.

On the third day of the meeting, participants met with Paulina Lichota Zadura, Director of the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development. The Agency is one of the biggest and most important public institutions which promotes and supports entrepreneurship in the country. It is also an intermediate body which transfers all EU funds to Polish enterprises, helping them to grow and become more innovative.

The second half of the day was dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship among children and youth. The team first had the opportunity to talk to Andrzej Ciastoń, an entrepreneur, project manager and educator. His organisation created several creative tools which were used to teach entrepreneurship at schools, among them a video series and a cartoon. The partners had also the opportunity to participate in the 'Entrepreneurial school' finals, led by the GEW Poland Foundation. The Entrepreneurial School is a competition designed for high school students who submit their creative ideas on how to teach entrepreneurship in schools. The best team wins up to 5000PLN (around EUR 1200) to make their project come true. During the finals at the Warsaw Stock Exchange, project partners could listen to the Ministry of Education representative, meet the team who won the competition and discuss how to improve teaching entrepreneurship with Polish teachers, students, government and NGO representatives and entrepreneurs themselves.

What the participants say:
I came away from Warsaw Informed and encouraged. The vision of the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development, the creativity of Poland's entrepreneurs and the commitment of its young people to enacting social change was inspiring. It was an organised, engaging, well-rounded experience outlining the idea of a holistic approach to entrepreneurship, evidenced by examples of forward-thinking best practice.
Robbie Noble - Editorial & Outreach Coordinator - Peace Child International

The 'Best Practices in Teaching Entrepreneurship and Creating Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Europe' project – part of the Erasmus+ programme – held its second international meeting in England during the second week of March. A total of eleven representatives from the four partnering organisations, The Edward de Bono Institute from the University of Malta, Youth Business Poland, Global Entrepreneurship Week Poland Foundation, and Peace Child International (the UK-based organisation which hosted the event) attended the three-day meeting. Representatives visited nine unique British enterprise initiatives.

The first day of the event involved a sit-down meeting at Peace Child International (PCI) headquarters. PCI representatives first acquainted partners from Poland and Malta with England’s entrepreneurial environment, educational system and key national initiatives that foster job creation, skill-building and enterprise support for young people. Following this introductory presentation, partners discussed the requirements and standards for this project’s final publication and established tentative timelines for deadlines and future meetings.

On the second day of this meeting, the participants went to Cambridge to visit five initiatives, the Future Business Centre, Social Incubator East, The Cambridge Regional College Peter Jones Enterprise Academy, Cambridge University Judge Business School Centre for Social Innovation, and Cambridge HUB. The Peter Jones Enterprise Academy offers young people vocational education (BTEC courses) in enterprise and entrepreneurship and is based in an actual business environment (the Future Business Centre). It applies a 'learn by doing' approach with students attending classes, having work placements and setting up their own business. The Judge Business School focuses on education and research in social innovation and social ventures. It also collaborates with The Future Business Centre, which offers business advisors, workspaces, and networking for social enterprises in the area. The Social Incubator East, which is based within the Future Business Centre, incubates social enterprises in the east of England. Our representatives were able to meet some of the Centre’s social entrepreneurs. Cambridge HUB works with students around Cambridge to encourage them to get involved in social enterprise and other activities.

On the final day of this meeting, the representatives went to London to meet with Enabling Enterprise, Rockstar Mentors, RBS's Inspiring Enterprise and Citrus Saturday. The partners met with the founders of these initiatives for roundtable discussions and presentations. Enabling Enterprise focuses on bringing entrepreneurial and employability skills into public schools around the country by training teachers in its unique framework. Rockstar Mentors connects new entrepreneurs with highly successful business people for expert advice and mentoring. Thanks to subsidies from the British government, Rockstar Mentors is also able to provide free training and mentoring services to young entrepreneurs and has opened a hub for startups that offers a more cost-effective mentoring approach.  In the afternoon, partners visited representatives from RBS’s Inspiring Enterprise programme, which offers funding to organisations that trains potential entrepreneurs as part of the bank’s corporate social responsibility. It also offers one-to-one sessions to aspiring entrepreneurs. The last initiative visited was Citrus Saturday, a growing global initiative run through University College London in the UK, which encourages children and young people set up lemonade stands to learn about business. Citrus Saturday provides these kids with the training and tools they need as well as information for potential organisers.

What the participants say
The meeting in the UK was intense and exciting.  We had the opportunity to witness nine different initiatives over two days. As educators and participants in national collaborations promoting entrepreneurship we were eager to learn and network with other organisations involved in disseminating entrepreneurship. The initiatives encourage an entrepreneurial mindset with different groups – from young learners to aspiring entrepreneurs. We were particularly impressed with the focus on ventures with a social vision as opposed to an exclusive preoccupation with profit-making.

The 'Best Practices in Teaching Entrepreneurship and Creating Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Europe' project – part of the Erasmus+ programme – held its third international meeting in Malta in May 2015. A total of nine representatives from this project’s four partner institutions attended meetings with twelve different organisations, all of which are involved in teaching and/or supporting entrepreneurship in Malta. Some of the meetings were held at the University of Malta's TAKEOFF Business Incubator, while others were held at the premises of the respective organisations.

The partners from Poland (Global Entrepreneurship Week Poland and Youth Business International) and the UK (Peace Child International) arrived in Malta on Monday 11 May. That evening, they met the hosts of this meeting (The Edward de Bono Institute) for an introductory meeting where they discussed the agenda for the next three days.

On Tuesday 12 May, the partners held meetings with five organisations. In the morning, they visited the Malta Information Technology Agency's Innovation Hub in Kalkara. The next three meetings were held at the University of Malta, where they met with the Director of Corporate Research and Knowledge Transfer, the Director of the Centre of Entrepreneurship and Business Incubation, and the CEO of a youth NGO called Young Business Entrepreneurs.  In the afternoon, the partners went to Sliema for a meeting with the CEO and Programme Coordinator of Junior Achievement Young Enterprise (Malta). This meeting was followed by a cultural activity, where the partners boarded a boat and enjoyed a guided tour of Malta's Grand Harbour and Marsamxetto Harbour, including a detailed commentary of the history of Malta.  In the evening, the partners attended the launch party of a contemporary jewellery exhibition of one of Malta’s top jewellery designers.

On Wednesday 13 May, the partners visited St Paul's Missionary College in Rabat to observe an entrepreneurship lesson with a group of teenagers. They later went to the University of Malta for meetings with representatives of six organisations. These were a meeting with a member of the Entrepreneurship Committee of St Nicholas College, the AIESEC Malta's Head of Incoming Global Talent and Business Relations, the Executive Coordinator of the Foundation for Women Entrepreneurs, the President of the Malta Association of Women in Business, the National President of Junior Chamber International, and the President and Academic Coordinator of the University's ICT Students Association. In a concluding meeting on Wednesday evening, the partners discussed the requirements and standards for this project’s publication.

What the participants say
In Malta, we saw a wealth of entrepreneurial initiatives. The University of Malta provided an excellent environment in which to learn about these schemes, and our partners' connections allowed us to witness the entire entrepreneurial progression - from an Introduction to Entrepreneurship class for teens to a jewellery entrepreneur's launch party. We left Malta with new ideas, new contacts and a solid understanding of its entrepreneurial ecosystem' (Liz Weiner, Peace Child International).