Young Developers and Entrepreneurs to Advance Start-Ups in the Western Balkans

TIRANA – Following the OSCE scholarship program at the European Innovation Academy summer course in Turin (7-28 July 2018), and in preparation of the Connectivity Meeting planned in Tirana on 8-9 November, the second coordination meeting of the YDEAS project intended to discuss how to harness the potentialities of the regional community of innovators – comprising approximately 1.000 applicants – that the YDEAS (Young Developers and Entrepreneurs to Advance Start-ups in the Western Balkans) project identified.

The Office of the Coordinator of the OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities (OCEEA), together with the OSCE Youth Focal Points in the Western Balkans and the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) also explored future prospects for the project sustainability.

During the meeting’s opening session, RYCO Secretary General Mr Đuro Blanuša underlined the strong partnership that RYCO has built with OSCE and said that RYCO is aiming to be an innovative organization – one of the first international organizations headquartered in Tirana, with young people directly involved in the decision making processes within its Governing Board through the co-management principle.

He also stressed that the representatives of the Western Balkans governments were missing at the meeting pointing out that they are one of the key partners in reaching young people and supporting youth-run projects. Finally, Mr Blanuša presented the RYCO Strategic Priorities in the upcoming three years that are outlined in the recently adopted RYCO Strategic Plan and explained how RYCO could focus on innovation.

Deputy Head of OSCE Presence in Albania Mr Robert Wilton said that it is undeniable that global network of humans and societies is irreversibly linked and pointed out that mobility is a part of it. The better we are connected as cultures in terms of human resources and democracy standards, he said, the more we will benefit from each other.

He underlined that security for OSCE is about sustainable societies interlinked with societies around them and added that innovation can help us in this unstable environment. He concluded by expressing his hopes that the project is seed for development of a larger network and movement in the region.

Italian 2018 OSCE Chairmanship in Office, First Secretary of the Italian Embassy in Tirana, Ms Rafaella Campanti stressed that the investment in the region is the best investment that can be done and underlined that it is needed maintain the community of the thousand applicants in order to ensure sustainability of the project.

Economic Affairs Officer of the Office of the Coordinator of OSCE, Economic and Environmental Activities (OCEEA), Ms Teresa Albano said that the project is looking at innovation as reconciliation tool fostering economic and people connectivity, particularly of young people since they are a key for it, internationally taking regional rather than national approach and underlined that in the next steps the governments from the region will be involved.

Presenting the experiences, lessons learnt and future prospects, Representative of the European Innovation Academy Ms Sandra Metsis said that the participants had a chance to gain new knowledge and skills that matter trough experimenting, improve their employability including chances for self-employment, as well as to get inception of the entrepreneurial mind-set, paving the way to establishment of more innovative start-ups in the region. She underlined, that the participants also had a chance to create a network between them and with other applicants and mentors, but also to become the project’s ambassadors and pass on the gained knowledge. Ms Metsis concluded that the project aimed to increase the number of local startups with global ambitions thus warming up the business climate and shifting the economy in the region.

The meeting was participated by the selected participants form Albania.

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