GIA is a pilot action to test the impact of introducing innovation in SMEs through the adoption of new bottom-up ideas coming from young professionals.
Giovani Innovatori in Azienda (GIA) is a policy instrument of the regional Authority resulting from several years of local policies supporting young people and making them test, experiment in the field, discover opportunities and professional vocations, deal with problems and opportunities of the territory.
The overall initiative’s objective is to facilitate contact between young innovators and local businesses. It is primarily based on the idea to stimulate and promote an active role of both companies and young people in order for them to meet.
In relation to beneficiaries, young professionals with innovative ideas can find matches with demands from SMEs and SMEs can gain better access to bottom-up innovative solutions and invest in new promising business.
Apulian companies are invited to illustrate specific innovation needs, while young people are offered the possibility to present innovative ideas. Thus, the initiative supports young people’s potential to innovate and creates opportunities for them to apply and test their innovative ideas in a company/business framework. At the same time, it potentiates Apulian SMEs by supporting their access to innovative ideas and thus increases sustainability and longevity of the Apulian SME system.
€ 1M from ESF was used to support 254 matches and 162 operation plans.
The initiative worked thanks to a dedicated and skilled reference staff, mainly personnel from the public body. Staff’s role is to support all matches, from initial interviews, to in-itinere monitoring and final follow-up visits
Evidence of success
From a sample of 152 monitored young innovators, 30 have continued the collaboration with their host company and 23 have started to work with another company. 71% of young innovators that did not work at the time of applying for participation to the initiative were employed after participation.
96% of participating young innovators have declared that the experience supported their professional growth, while 100% of participating companies declared to have satisfied its innovation need.
It was unexpected that:
- the more traditional enterprises responded with a lower employment impact;
- many host enterprises could not get enough elements to support on a short term the decision of investing further resources to carry on the project and employ the young collaborator
Potential for learning or transfer
There are some positive lessons that can be learned from the practice experimented:
- the opportunity of implementing an innovative idea in an entrepreneurial context often led to improved business competences in young participants;
- the integration of the young innovator in the host company’s work team, in most cases, had a positive impact in the internal processes;
- about half of the young innovators involved have seized opportunities for new and continued collaborations with the same host company or other local SMEs.
In order to achieve a successful implementation, it is required an approach focused on the empowerment of the young, based on a grassroots innovation support and with a specific attention on community activation, communication and return on involved community.
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