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New practices of Grassroots Innovation for Demand Driven Businesses

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GIDDB (New practices of Grassroots Innovation for Demand Driven Businesses)

Reporting period: 2016-02-01 to 2016-10-31

Youth unemployment across the European Union remains unacceptably high and the consequences for society will be, and already are, significant. According to Eurostat data, the youth unemployment rate in the EU-28 has still been close to 20% at the end of 2015, and the challenging labour market situation for European youth is also represented by the rising percentage of NEETs, whose share increased all over Europe in the wake of the economic and financial crisis.

Especially the southern European countries continue to experience very high youth unemployment rates. However, in these territories, where even tertiary graduates’ employment rates can drop below 70%, a higher share of self-employment activities has gone hand in hand with limited access to the labour market and the lack of employment possibilities for young people in the past years. The young may be inexperienced when it comes to business creation but by taking their future into their own hands, they regain a sense of self-worth and of purpose. Instead of waiting for a job to come up, they attempt to create work for themselves and thus actively try to solve their situation before considering leaving their home region or mother nation. As entrepreneurs, they can also become an essential part of their home countries' economies and contribute to their territories' development and competitiveness and it is therefore of great importance that policy makers discuss and identify feasible and effective support measures for them.

Often fledgling businesses are at risk of failure and the enthusiasm of young entrepreneurs can fade out if not supported by significant business skill developments and proper partnerships. Building on the innovative potential of young entrepreneurs and convinced of their capability to identify their own needs and propose fresh solutions for their own growth, the GIDDB Project tackles the use of grassroots approaches to support businesses founded and managed by young people from 18 to 35 years of age. It discusses the possibilities of empowering innovation in young start-ups through adopting a new approach for public support schemes in which the public institution becomes a facilitator and partner to the young entrepreneurs and becomes capable of applying less conventional methods of interventions.

The project's main objective and final Deliverable regards the creation of a Design Options Paper describing recommendations and possibilities for interventions aimed at supporting bottom-up innovations and
competitiveness in SMEs founded by the young.
The Partners implemented the full project within this reporting period. This first Periodic Report therefore also represents the project’s Final Report.

During the project’s 9-months duration, the Partners have researched and reviewed practices, methodologies and experiences related to the implementation of grassroots youth policy instruments that target the support of SMEs founded and managed by young people (18-35 years of age). During the research phase, key experiences as well as primary characteristics for grassroots policies have been identified in order to develop generally applicable recommendations for interested policy makers.

As a final result, the project has identified 5 design aspects that can be useful for the creation of such bottom-up policies. These aspects were presented during the project’s final meeting in Badajoz, Spain, on October 25th 2016 and are detailed in the project’s Deliverable, the GIDDB Design Options Paper “Grassroots support schemes for young SMEs”, which is available on the partners' websites and from the ERRIN and EURADA networks. It is published with Creative Commons license BY-NC-ND 4.0 and freely available to all interested stakeholders.
The GIDDB project has developed recommendations for policy-makers interested in developing support schemes for young entrepreneurs using a grassroots approach. Even though many examples for bottom-up initiatives can be found in Europe, this type of approach is not much used on wider policy-making levels yet.

The GIDDB Design Options Paper represents a synthesis of lessons learned both through direct implementation of experimental actions by the Partners and through the studying of other practices in the framework of the project. The project delivers a recommendation framework for stakeholders and policy makers interested in creating grassroots policy support measures for SMEs managed by young people. The final Design Options paper is structured in a way that it may be used both as a guidance document to set up a policy design or as a support instruments for individual topics/steps linked to grassroots innovation policies (e.g. participation, co-planning, etc.). The document is applicable for designs from scratch and for re-designing existing interventions with a grassroots approach.