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  • Periodic Reporting for period 2 - MY-WAY (Strengthening the web entrepreneurship ecosystem in Europe for young people by creating a pan-European network of actively engaged student networks and student entrepreneurship centres)

MY-WAY Report Summary

Project ID: 644367
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - MY-WAY (Strengthening the web entrepreneurship ecosystem in Europe for young people by creating a pan-European network of actively engaged student networks and student entrepreneurship centres)

Reporting period: 2016-01-01 to 2016-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

When the MY-WAY project set off in 2014, the European landscape of web entrepreneurship was highly fragmented: many initiatives existed, but did not coordinate their efforts; information was lacking and young European prospective entrepreneurs were limited to their local options when searching for information and support. This risks jeopardising the endeavours of young prospective entrepreneurs, making them lose self-confidence and give up their entrepreneurial dreams.

To change this, the MY-WAY project therefore set itself the following objectives:
• Enhancing coordination and collaboration between key actors in web entrepreneurship and developing methods of embedding and transferring good practices in different student support centres;
• Developing and activating a network of student support centres in web entrepreneurship;
• Structuring information on support services and initiatives on web entrepreneurship, identifying and disseminating good practices in student support and web entrepreneurship services;
• Promoting existing web entrepreneurship initiatives, creating synergies across these communities by engaging students and their social network resulting in improved services;
• Providing tailored information and guidance to prospective young entrepreneurs, students and the student support centres on the web entrepreneurship ecosystem;
• Opening possibilities for using an open innovation model by partnering with existing startups and SMEs looking for talent and discovering new lines for their business;
• Changing the mindset of young adults on web entrepreneurship by boosting their confidence, offering tailored information on web entrepreneurship.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

As a first step, Bar Ilan University outlined a mapping methodology to lay out the most relevant actors for a young person wishing to launch a new business. By checking the MY-WAY map, young prospective entrepreneurs can understand the environment not only around them, but across Europe, may find the missing piece of their business and directly contact an organisation.
Later on, AEGEE and NACUE developed, carried out and analysed online surveys and face-to-face interviews to young prospective entrepreneurs and student support centres. We realised that students need to have closer contact and support from student networks, which should fill the gaps between the main actors in the field of entrepreneurship. But student support centres often face financial challenges and lack of proper working space.

All partners then scouted their own ecosystem to find successful innovative collaboration examples between initiatives offering support to prospective entrepreneurs. A Set of Best Practices ensued, proving the high potential for impact of student networks positioning themselves as key actors within the web entrepreneurship ecosystem. The efforts leading to this report facilitated the creation of new connections between partners and key organisations in their entrepreneurship ecosystem.

To give voice to the other side of the equation, AEGEE and Europa Media organised two Stakeholder Meetings in Brussels, bringing together each time 30-40 people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities working in the entrepreneurship field. The two first extensive communication campaigns in the project were launched to promote this opportunity. The most immediate result was a collection of additional perspectives and the creation of a preferential channel for student support centres to access investors, mentors, incubators and co-working spaces.

Furthermore, MY-WAY continuously sought for the viewpoint of the members of the Disruptors’ Network, which the project coordinated. This experience has produced a number of recommendations on exploitation options for the continuation and improvement of the Network.

In early 2016 it became high time to give back to students: MY-WAY managed to approach more than 750 students in the occasion of Student Enterprise Conferences organised in London, Budapest, Lisbon, Tel Aviv and Treviso. The cities were selected because of the different levels of development of the local ecosystems, which allowed for thought-provoking exchanges of knowledge and best practices. Major communication campaigns were launched for each conference, including graphic design and tailored promotional material. For the programme and speakers selection, cooperation was always sought with other Startup Europe projects.

The legacy of MY-WAY will continue through the Action Plans created by the project for London, Istanbul, Budapest and Zaragoza. The lessons learned during the numerous activities of the project, in fact, have been embedded in a standard action plan that aims to help student support centres looking to improve their status in the local entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

MY-WAY’s services had an impact on the ability and potential in launching a new business of young prospective entrepreneurs. As a result of our efforts, the reached students:
• Feel more confident;
• Improved their business-related skills;
• Better understand the entrepreneurship ecosystem surrounding them as well as the wider European ecosystem;
• Created novel connections with key actors of the entrepreneurship ecosystem;
• See entrepreneurship, including social entrepreneurship, as a viable and attractive career option.

Another target of the project, student support centres, have also been profoundly impacted by MY-WAY, as they:
• Expressed their needs and problems to key actors of the European entrepreneurship ecosystem, including accelerators, investors, mentors and others;
• Understood the importance of mapping the local ecosystem and of being more integrated in it;
• Have networked and established new connections with relevant stakeholders;
• Have learned more about current needs and problems of student entrepreneurs willing to launch a business, with a view to improving their services or better representing the youth.

Business actors and policy-makers were also positively impacted by the project, as they better understood the main needs and problems of student entrepreneurs and student support centres. They received evidence-based recommendations, lessons learned and best practices to advance and improve initiatives and programmes on one hand, and legislation and policies on the other hand. By participating in our events, they also became more integrated into the local and European entrepreneurship ecosystems.

From a societal perspective, MY-WAY has contributed to the improvement of a unique, integrated and solid European startup ecosystem, with a specific focus on the role of the next generation of entrepreneurs. In this way, its significance cannot be restricted to the local success stories, but should rather be seen as impacting on the European society as a whole in terms of the societal need of employment, the pursue of the European way of life, fears and aspirations, and its culture and community.

Gender aspects of self-entrepreneurship were taken in consideration throughout the project, as we followed a carefully planned Gender Strategy; this strategy involved strong attention on the participation of women in all events, workshops and meetings organised by the project, as well as specific panel discussions, such as one on Women in Tech held within the last Student Enterprise Conference in Treviso in December 2016.

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