Education Cultural & Creative Knowledge Alliance for Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs
Supported by European Comission, The Directorate General for Education and Culture (EDUCCKATE EAC/S03/2012/029)
EDUCCKATE (2013-2014) is a pilot project designed to develop
and a business mind-set among students and to build capacity in the
of culture and creative sectors and in the higher education
institutions. The project is primarily a collaboration of 11 diverse
from 7 European countries (Austria, Italy, Greece, Germany, Hungary,
the United Kingdom).
In addition to developing multilingual training materials, creating specific networking space and organising the internships in a systematic and balanced manner, EDUCCKATE's greatest success was matching a group of young and enthusiastic interns with supportive and energetic mentors.
During the course of the project the interns developed new skills in real-life business environments across a diverse range of projects. In organisations as varied as charities and TV production companies, the projects they were engaged in ranged
from promoting arts in deprived areas to creating web content on culture; developing business plans for cultural heritage management and writing a computer game based on archaeology. Both interns and mentors provided overwhelmingly positive feedback
at the end of the placements, and entrepreneurs are strongly in favour of continuing with similar schemes in the future that allow them to work with the bright young graduates with new ideas.
EDUCCKATE was the first pan-European mentoring scheme for entrepreneurship to specifically target the Culture and Creative sector. The project was very well received, and it looks very likely that several project partners will continue the process both independently within their respective countries and as a group of cross-European partners.
The project recognised both the importance of the Cultural and Creative sector to European society and economy as well as its need for targeted support due to recent economic difficulties and funding cuts. The role of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) was seen as crucial in enabling future growth within the sector. A system of mentored internships was developed as a way to support cultural and creative sector organisations with the bright new ideas proposed by young specialists.
Higher education institutions also played an important role in the project both as providers of skill sets to young specialists, and as receivers of innovative new training methods developed as part of the project. Ultimately, the project brought SME’s and higher education institutions together in the area of cultural and creative businesses and cultural and creative degrees. Although participants and stakeholders came from diverse organisations, both public and private, they nevertheless formed mutually-beneficial alliances of knowledge transfer that has the potential to send the cultural and creative sector of European economy into a brighter future.
The project was coordinated by Sarah Wolferstan and Gai Jorayev.
The project was assisted by UCL Advances.
Please also visit www.educckate.eu for additional information.
EDUCCKATE targeted three groups: students or recent graduates of
European higher education institutions, staff members of the same
institutions, and European entrepreneurs. Within these target groups, the
project focused on students and businesses within the wide spectrum of the Culture and Creative sector.
The project objectives operated on two levels. On a macro level, inspired by the European agenda, EDUCCKATE focused on improving or enabling mutually beneficial collaboration between universities and businesses in the CC sector. On a micro level, it aimed to bring students and businesses together to develop new ideas, projects and initiatives that could instigate change at a grassroots level. In other words, it was about fostering an entrepreneurial mind-set in the students of CC disciplines and promoting the concept and skill set of entrepreneurship among them.
At a more elaborative and academic/policy-making level, EDUCCKATE's objectives were threefold. Firstly, the project facilitated a mutual exchange of knowledge and skills between academic/training institutions and businesses to the benefit of both. Secondly, by enabling direct contact between students and businesses the project opened access to the business world for tomorrows CC entrepreneurs. This involved identifying the most relevant and necessary entrepreneurial competences, and providing specialised training and on the job learning through mentored internships to students. Thirdly, EDUCCKATE built positive links between higher education institutions and business to encourage the continuation of similar schemes in the future and ensure the sustainability of the project.
The close involvement of each target group was integral to the development and refinement of approaches to implementing mentored internships. Feedback from project partners strongly suggests that the project will have significant positive long-term impacts. An absolute majority of both as mentees and mentors expressed high interest in continuing similar schemes in the future.
The EDUCCKATE partnership implemented predetermined plans of action to achieve the project goals in their respective countries. The project began with a research and analysis phase to refine existing knowledge and identify new areas of interest. Surveys and targeted interviews were undertaken to identify the current needs of the sector. The partnership also carried out research across Europe to identify training programmes with similar objectives to EDUCCKATE. This part of the project also aimed to identify the Culture and Creative sector's expectations, and establish new contacts with potential stakeholders.
Specific training materials that focused on entrepreneurship were prepared for students/graduates, entrepreneurs and the staff of education/training organisations. The partnership also initiated a systematic process of recruitment for mentor positions (entrepreneurs within the CC sector) and mentees (students or recent graduates of CC degrees). This was managed by the project partners within the participating countries through an application and selection process.
Applicants signed up to a specifically designed online network to share their profiles with potential mentees or mentors. In several countries, the applicants received initial training before being matched with mentees/mentors. Matching events were also held where both the entrepreneurs/potential mentors and the students/potential interns met to discuss their ideas and projects before the final pairs were announced. Each pair received extensive training both before and during the internships through training sessions and online resources. The project’s online network played a crucial role in the success of the internships, and was used as a platform where participants shared experiences. The project partners managed and continually assessed the internships. LEVEL5, a specialised system of competence validation, was also implemented via the online platform and aimed to foster the participant’s self-reflection on their development. This was designed to deepen the impact of their learning experience and provide evidence of their professional development that they could use in the future, for example as part of their portfolios.
Training, organisation and evaluation activities were supported by complementary activities in project management, dissemination, quality assurance and internal evaluation. Dissemination activities were undertaken throughout EDUCCKATE in localised, country-specific contexts and as actions of European-wide influence. Progress information was disseminated through existing communication channels (including e-newsletters and webpages) as well as through dedicated project newsletters distributed to a wide range of stakeholders and interest groups. Country-specific dissemination and promotional events, participation at exhibitions/conferences, and presentations at academic and business forums were also organised by project partners. The project's final event took place in Athens, Greece, and showcased the project’s results.
Simultaneously, internal evaluation and monitoring, effective management and constant coordination between partners ensured the timely delivery of project outcomes. The internal evaluation process highlighted issues or obstacles that the partners faced and raised awareness of how these challenges were responded to. The partners remained in constant contact and gathered regularly for virtual and face-to-face project meetings. The effective management, evaluation and dissemination strategies put in place during EDUCCKATE will contribute significantly to the project’s sustainability.
The project’s goals were achieved through the development of various materials, tools and methodologies. Following the initial research phase, a database of similar initiatives in Europe was created and the final research report distributed. The project also developed successful multilingual training materials based on key competences in entrepreneurship. Training materials for mentors and university staff were also prepared and tested. The mentoring and entrepreneurship validations system was refined and used to produce certificates for the participants of the internship process. Guidelines for participant selection, internship organisation and mentoring were also developed. A database including the innovative business projects devised and developed by the internships was also prepared.
A majority of the developed materials were made available on the project’s online network (http://mahara.vita-eu.org/) that was and is used actively by the target groups. Although currently only accessible to registered existing project members, it is planned to make most of the training materials publicly available through the EDUCCKATE website (http://educckate.eu). Several partner organisations also intend to continue to use and disseminate the materials through their own networks and websites.
The project’s core outcomes were based in the internship process itself. Crucial to the success of this component was the creation of a specific networking space and formulating selection criteria and systematic guidance for the organisation of internships across the partnership. The partnership learned enormously from the internship process and was able to distribute extensive feedback to the vast group of stakeholders.
The 77 internships organised across Europe by the project delivered a range of interesting projects. The organisations and businesses that hosted the interns varied from charities to TV production companies. The projects they were engaged in ranged from promoting arts in deprived areas to creating web content on culture; developing business plans for cultural heritage management and writing a computer game based on archaeology. The process provided the partners valuable experience, revealing hidden obstacles as well as future opportunities.
The most heartening and motivating aspect of the process for the partners was the feedback gathered from the mentors and mentees at the end of the project. In addition to the suggestions for areas of improvements that one could expect from a pilot initiative of this scale, comments from both sides were overwhelmingly positive and heartfelt and clearly highlighted that the project had made a significant change in their working lives.
The project partnership was diverse in the specialities, geographic coverage, size and reach of the organisations involved, brought together partners with complementary expertise, and enabled wide coverage across different European networks. The partnership’s key strength was its willingness to adopt these innovative mentoring schemes that utilised the project’s links with the business and academic worlds.
The partnership was led by specialists of the University College London (UCL), one of the largest and most prestigious universities in the world. UCL’s Centre for Applied Archaeology coordinated the project. The collaboration between CAA and UCL Advances, the university’s unique and award winning Business and Entrepreneurship development department, was particularly important for the EDUCCKATE project. The project coordinators were also supported by UCL European Research and Innovation Office and UCL Careers.
A number of other European partners directly contributed to the higher education and training component of the project, including:
- The Cyprus Centre for European and International Affairs (CCEIA), part of the University of Nicosia. CCEIA is a non-profit research centre that works in close collaboration with the different academic departments of the university. They developed and delivered specialised training to the target groups and brought existing contacts with other organisations and networks to the project.
- FH JOANNEUM University of Applied Sciences. With its career-orientated degree programmes FHJ is one of Austria’s leading universities of applied sciences and is famous for close collaborations with businesses. FHJ contributed enormously by assisting the partnership in developing training, implementing the mentored internships and in ensuring exploitation and sustainability of the results.
- Link Campus University from Italy. In addition to supporting educational and training components, its primary responsibilities were in designing and developing an online network to link potential mentors and mentees and deliver training. Using its technological capacity, Link Campus University managed the process and online network exceptionally well.
- RNDO from Cyprus was responsible for developing areas of the project’s website.
Direct links to the businesses were provided by most of the partners, however a number of organisations played a key role in this, such as:
- Impact Hub Kings Cross (London, UK), a unique organisation that provides a place for social entrepreneurs to work, connect and get inspired. The majority of Impact Hub members are SME’s and a significant section of them are involved in CC businesses. Using its expertise of fostering small businesses and using its huge global network, Impact Hub Kings Cross played a crucial role in bringing together, monitoring and evaluating the mentored internships.
- Quality Program (QP), a consulting firm supporting companies to develop their entrepreneurial capacity with an emphasis on sustainability. QP undertook internal monitoring of EDUCCKATE, ensured collaboration between partners. And used its detailed knowledge of the requirements of European-funded initiatives to implement the right quality assurance procedures for the project.
- Die Berater, an Austrian company that also works in education and training, coaching, counselling and consultancy, led the dissemination component of the project. Like several other project partners, die Berater is also experienced in participating and managing European-funded and European-wide projects.
Crucially, the partnership also included partners that specialised in training activities, such as:
- Knowl, a social enterprise for education and lifelong learning from Greece. Knowl was a key partner in developing a toolbox and training materials for key mentoring competences for entrepreneurship. It used previous experience in developing similar training and adapted it for the needs of EDUCCKATE project. Knowl also organised a very successful European conference as a final event of the project.
- BUPNET, an education and training institution from Gottingen, Germany with leading expertise in employment-oriented education and European co-operation. BUPNET played a significant role both in developing training and evaluating competence development, and thus recorded the overall success of the project. BUPNET also used innovative educational methods and validated the internship participant’s competence developments.
- CATRO (from Hungary), a company with expertise in executive and human resources consultation for SME’s, also has capacity as a training organisation. CATRO contributed to the project as a coordinator of activities related to the recruitment and training of university students/graduates to the mentored internships.
All project partners participated in announcing the project, inviting applications, selecting participants and implementing the internships in their respective countries. Within Austria, die Berater worked closely with FH JOANNEUM, and in Cyprus, CCEIA and RNDO worked in collaboration. Link Campus University and Quality Program worked together in Italy, and in the UK UCL collaborated with Impact Hub Kings Cross. BUPNET (Germany), Knowl (Greece) and CATRO (Hungary) represented their countries as sole partners and all were recipients of support and collaboration from other project partners.
The partnership also attracted several associated partners throughout the duration of the project, creating a close working relationship with a range of businesses and training centres that added value to EDUCCKATE. These newly-formed connections will further the dissemination of the project’s results and ensure its sustainability in the future.
Excellent work was undertaken to ensure exploitation and sustainably of the project’s achievements. Eleven different organisations across the partnership countries provided support letters before the end of the project and many more expressed an interest to support similar initiatives in the future. The partnership is keen to continue the process both independently within their respective countries and as a group of cross-European partners. Discussions are ongoing to ensure continuation of the scheme utilising internal and external funding opportunities. Intellectual property rights were signed by all partners to remove the hurdles for the sustainability and future use of the project’s outcomes.
There is a no doubt in the minds of the project coordinators that similar programmes are needed in the future. The coordinators are convinced that this set of internships were different from other internships already in place at the universities and training organisations. However, further discussions are required to firmly establish the advantages of the mentored internships and to determine the use of dedicated project ideas as an exceptionally useful tool for developing entrepreneurial skills in students. The issue of attracting the required participant numbers (both mentors and mentees) is also very important to address. Varying levels of interest were observed in different European countries, driven primarily by local economic and social situations. Despite the overall success of the project, the number of internships across the partnership reached 77, below the target number of 105. EDUCCKATE was very much seen as a pilot project and from this viewpoint the findings were enormously valuable. Despite this, the differences in perception from each country participating in the project should not be ignored, and the question still remains of how to mitigate the influence of macro-economic and social factors in any small-scale projects of a similar nature.
Despite the difficulties, major project partners expressed an interest to continue the programme. There is scope for small changes to the methods implemented as part of EDUCCKATE in order to streamline the process and to make it relevant to the sector needs for each specific country. Several partners are already part of new project proposals and new partnerships to sustain the EDUCCKATE concept. Maintaining the links established between educational centres and business partners during the project is of high importance for all partners, with education centres and universities having access to a pool of host organisations for student placements or even student employment, and businesses benefitting from young talent with fresh knowledge and large capabilities for innovation.
As intended, the projects main contribution to the European agenda was to highlight the importance and benefits of university-business cooperation with clear case studies and examples. Using extensive research and methodological development, the project enabled participating partners to understand the needs of both sides in the process and to offer a mutually beneficial system of mentored internships.
The EDUCCKATE project also contributed to the Entrepreneurship 2020 initiative, especially to the ‘Entrepreneurial education and training to support growth and business creation’ pillar, and has relevance to a number of other initiatives including the:
- newly founded ‘Start-up Europe’ initiative;
- Innovation Union, one of the seven flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth;
- Education and Training 2020 framework (EC, 2009);
- European Commission’s Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan, by reaching out to specific groups whose entrepreneurial potential is not being tapped to its fullest extent or who are not reached by traditional business support outreach;
- Small Business Act for Europe, aiming to improve the overall approach to entrepreneurship;
- European Key Competences for Lifelong Learning, through developing the sense of initiative and entrepreneurship; and
- the Bologna Process 2020 (Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve Communiqué) because of its promotion of employability.
In at least two countries the project also achieved integration and synergies with other EU initiatives such as Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs. This was not planned from the outset, but developed naturally over the course of the activities. The project also played an important role in promoting a positive image of the European initiatives in the areas of youth and entrepreneurship.
The project also highlighted the importance of Culture and Creative sectors in each country, showing them to be attractive sectors to work within and collaborate with. Enabling several projects in the area of modern uses of cultural heritage, especially bringing IT solutions and mass media together with European heritage assets, the project certainly supports the recent European Commissions communique on this area (EC, 2014), and also goes a long way in justifying the importance of European documents and guidelines such as the Faro Convention. The partners also note recent funding developments through calls such as Horizon 2020 where Reflective Societies calls are very much relevant to some of the internship projects undertaken as part of this project.
EDUCCKATE, and similar projects, can clearly contribute to the employment of youth in Europe by enabling easier transition from education/training to work placement. A high percentage of interns provided feedback suggesting that the internships equipped them with a competitive advantage in searching for future employment.