What is Region Fundão and what do you specialise in?
Fundão is a county in the center of Portugal, situated between the Estrela mountains and Gardunha characterised by coloured fertile lands. It contains some magical places where history mingles with the awe-inspiring presence of nature. The diverse features of its soils make it possible to produce and profit from native products of unrivaled quality.
This area currently has the largest cluster of cherry orchards in Portugal. The climatic conditions provided by the altitude and exposure to the sun make cherries from Fundão unique. In addition to these marvellous ‘rubies’ we have to also mention the chestnuts, honey, wine, olive oil, cheese, wild mushrooms and charcuterie - which are just some of many local products that have always been the foundation of the local people’s cuisine. In Fundão local products reflect both history and tradition. The know-how handed down from generation to generation is the key to genuine products of the finest quality, and a range of unique tastes to savour.
Today the focus is on attracting investment and for this we are creating conditions to accommodate new businesses in the area of new technologies. A good example is CODE ACADEMY. In Fundão we have been facing a problem of mismatch between anemergent labor market (due to the recent placement of IT companies) and qualified human resources, corresponding with the profile demanded.
In order to solve this challenge, we improve facilities to attract software engineers from other regions and cities. However, we also realized that very few young students of Fundão choose that particular academic curriculum. Therefore, even when adding professionals from other cities our local university and polytechnics did not have critical mass to respond to this appeal from the labor market.
So, at the living lab partnership platform we began to enhance a strategy that brought us to the code academies. thereby answering the initial problem in two different ways:
A – Preparing, with an intensive retraining program, unemployed people as well as graduated people in several fields connected to coding/programming/skills, transforming them in software developers in 14 weeks. It was a great success as 100% of the developers that participated in the first two boot camps were contracted in two months.
B - On the other hand, we realized that an improve of interest for digital areas was needed to keep students. There was a need for a curriculum option improving the cognitive and non-cognitive skills as well as digital literacy. The goal was to better prepare students from primary school for the jobs that will be available the future, reducing the risk of unemployment.
We also implemented a junior academy that started last year with two pilot classes. It’s now in place in all primary schools in Fundão.
If Senior academy is a non-formal concept of training that is achieving very good result indicators and is improving it´s implementation in several other cities and countries, the junior academy is a product generated by a social innovation process, started out of Fundão, that we brought to our social innovation strategy and which is assumed as a main project of our local community to promote civil economy.
Like many small towns in Europe, Fundão suffer the typical problems of an area of low density, struggling to find solutions to the current crisis. With a 30% unemployment rate in the population under 30 years, the younger generation - mainly highly educated - cannot find jobs in the region or have access to a solution that allows it to thrive. The Municipality has established a local development strategy based on social innovation and cooperation between the different local actors - which was built under the auspices of the Living Lab Cova da Beira (LLCB) - to attract investments and allow new families as well as younger generations to live and work in their home territory.
More recently, the Strategic Plan for Innovation that the Municipality of Fundão has been implementing through a concept of incubation of ideas / businesses and attracting companies has been increasing the importanace of the fields of innovation and technology. This has had a significant impact on the volume of jobs recently created in the city.
How do you feel the OSIRIS project will benefit the partners and the rest of Europe?
With OSIRIS we expect to explore and optimize the potential of methods and OSI tools for delivering innovation policies to address real-life issues and social challenges. Also, we look forward to arriving at a common vision for the design of new projects, services and products. We also look forward to supporting regional governments and an increasing amount of open local innovation and co-design.
Through the OSIRIS project we are able to enhance a culture of exchange of good practices through the transferable capacity of these same practices.