The entrepreneurship of young people has numerous dimensions. What’s more, this entrepreneurship is accompanied by a number of challenges, especially in rural areas, which have their own specific characteristics.

During Learning Camp 3, the iEER project partners visited Northern Ireland and Kerry County (Ireland). The intensive visit coincided with the official beginning of the UK’s withdrawal process under art. 50 of the EU Treaty. It is worth mentioning that stakeholders from Northern Ireland have noted UK’s decision to leave the European Union with great concern. They had been the ones affected by the strict border and the presence of the army and controls. They are curious as to what their relations with their European business partners will be like after leaving the European Union.

The opportunity to travel across the entire island, from Belfast through Newry to Tralee, was an unforgettable experience.

The extensive event programme was arranged to facilitate taking a closer look at young-entrepreneurship support models adopted in and around Belfast. The participants in the Learning Camp watched the presentations prepared by students of Ulster University, Belfast Metropolitan College and Queens University with great interest. Their message was optimistic, and carried positive energy and belief in the students’ own opportunities.

It was very inspiring to learn about Northern Ireland's approach and their vision of entrepreneurship, perceived as joining human resources with material, technological or financial resources, and searching for the best infrastructure. It was possible to notice that the Learning Camp participants identified with the issues and approaches, despite the fact that they came from various countries across Europe. It can be concluded that the concept, courage and belief in success are the things that matter.

The practical presentations delivered at Ulster University Business School were proof that a university is not only capable of providing theoretical knowledge on entrepreneurship but also of providing students with their first business experience. Family enterprises are a strong asset of the Irish economy: there are 78 family-run companies on the list of 100 most-profitable enterprises. However, intermingling business and family relations can lead to conflicts and a tense atmosphere. These situations can be avoided by drawing on the experience of others. The university provides such companies with a platform for cooperation and development. A number of interesting tools and techniques have been designed to clear the air in family companies and to introduce rules and business standards. “They are helpful and they work”, said a representative of a prosperous family company operating in the hotel sector.

The participants in the Learning Camp also visited the WIN Business Park in Newry. The town, located near the border with Ireland, had to face numerous obstacles, including a high unemployment rate, which exceeded 30% in the 1970s. The rate is currently substantially lower due to the strategic approach and the entrepreneurial spirit of the region. The Newry community built a technological area using money from public collection. Following new trends and redefining the function of the town has led to the reduction in the unemployment rate to 2.7%, and continuous development. There are 600 new workplaces available in Newry. The Westpomeranian Region, a partner in the iEER project, sees great potential for development in this town, which is the reason why bilateral cooperation with companies based in Newry is due to be initiated in May this year. 

In addition, the iEER project partners took part in the annual conference Building Borderless Business: Cantillon 2017, held in Tralee in Kerry County. It was a unique opportunity to get to know the Irish innovative approach to entrepreneurship, cutting-edge data management and business security. The Irish follow the most-recent trends in security and networks, and are able to translate them into innovative business models.

A visit to the Institute of Technology in Tralee, where children and young people proudly presented their innovative ideas, was a great inspiration. The guests were provided with a unique opportunity to admire young talents, and their enthusiasm and entrepreneurial maturity. The young people succeeded in presenting their business concepts just as well as the professional start-up owners.

The visit was abundant in exceptional meetings and presentations of unique people and places. The meeting participants returned home inspired, with knowledge of the rich history of the island and impressed by the young generation’s creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.

We want to thank iEER team form Northern Ireland and Kerry County for the excellent hospitality. We couldn't have asked for a more interesting and inspiring visit.
Kaja, Magda, Monika, Monika and Marta from Westpomerania Region

Cover picture by Paul Eliasberg, Flickr.