AYCH Youth Mission : Santo Tirso

“Youth Innovation Missions” Program at Fábrica Santo Thyrso: April – June 2023

The “Youth Innovation Missions” is a Pilot Activity of the AYCH Atlantic Youth Creative Hubs Project, Extension and Capitalization (Call 3), which intends to develop and implement a new model of work with Young People regarding the generation of solutions for complex socio-economic and ecological challenges that communities in the Atlantic area, in general, and Santo Tirso in particular, face.

In Santo Tirso, this activity was carried out at Fábrica de Santo Thyrso HUB, which asserts itself as a «Platform» to support young entrepreneurs regarding to incubation, training, promotion and support for business training. Today Fábrica de Santo Thyrso is a place open to the community and whose growth is based on values of great importance for the promotion and dynamization of our youth entrepreneurship ecosystem.

The “Youth Innovation Missions” Program was developed through an integrated cycle of webinars, innovation workshops and thematic laboratories, during which young people had the opportunity to learn and develop new skills, generate innovative projects and solutions that answer to societal challenges, in a creative, collaborative and experimental environment.

The process was structured around 4 phases:

Phase I – Roadshow and Promotion

During March 2023, the Santo Tirso Municipality AYCH Team promoted a regional roadshow, developing information and awareness sessions with stakeholders in the territory, in order to motivate young people to participate in this Programme.

Phase II - Qualification, Training and Awareness

To raise awareness of young people on the issues regarding the Missions, 3 webinars were held on the following subjects:

Social Innovation and Impact Entrepreneurship (12th April) Circular Economy (13th April) Employability and the Future of Work (14th April) The training sessions consisted in 3 workshops which covered the following key strategic themes: Regenerative Thinking and Design (17th April) Business Development (27th April ) Challenges and Missions (03 May)

Phase III – Open Labs

Three Open Labs for projects/missions structuring and development took place, where a diversified toolbox was used by the participants, in order to develop business models, prototyping processes and communication strategies.

The main themes of the projects/missions developed in this program focused on the fields of Inclusive Communities, Sustainable Fashion, Circular Economy and Renewable Energy, Sustainable Tourism, Social Innovation and Impact Entrepreneurship.

To support young people in the development of their work, these Labs were opened to the business and entrepreneurial community, involving different stakeholders such as partners, institutional and sectoral entities, companies, AYCH ambassadors, among others, who contributed to the validation and development of the projects/missions. The participants obtained feedback from specialists and relevant agents in the themes/areas of their projects/missions.

Phase IV – Pitching

The last phase of the process consisted in a Pitching Session, in which the missions and projects developed by young people were publicly presented to the community, to the business and entrepreneurial ecosystem and to investors. An advisory panel was created for this purpose, and their members gave feedback to participants regarding the validation and development of their projects/missions.

This Youth Innovation Missions” Program involved the participation of 20 young people, mainly from Santo Tirso, but also from the wider region, coming from different areas of training and qualification and from different professional spheres. Around 15 stakeholders were also involved, supporting young people in the development and validation of missions and projects. The “Youth Innovation Missions” Program endowed Santo Tirso Municipality with important contributions to its Local Agenda in terms of sustainable development and answer to Societal Challenges, having given an active voice to young people in this process.

In terms of innovative methodologies and approaches, this program made it possible to experiment and integrate new models for entrepreneurship promotion and entrepreneurial skills development. Thus, to the Design Thinking approach that formed the basis of the entrepreneurship promotion processes used in previous editions of the AYCH project, a Regenerative Design approach has now been added, which allowed to: Focus the development of projects/missions on the existing potential in Santo Tirso (and not just on current problems and needs), making possible to explore new areas of opportunity and of value generation, as well as to reinforce the projects/missions anchoring in this territory;

structure the design of projects/missions not only on generating financial and transactional value, but also on their contributions to the broader context in which they are embedded, with particular focus on how they can also mobilize other sources of capital (natural, social, cultural, infrastructural) and generate new forms of value and win-win relationships with the local community and with the planet;

identify and align the purposes of the participants with those of their teams and with those of their projects, in order to generate greater levels of awareness, motivation, clarification of goals and intentionality in their action as entrepreneurs and agents of change;

and consider and involve a wider range of stakeholders, in order to generate new resources and promote their greater involvement with the development of projects/missions, functioning as “careholders”.