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A Special Issue of UIIN Magazine on Regional Development featuring RESTART+!


The past decades of unprecedented social and economic opportunities have simultaneously contributed to the emergence of “glocalised” challenges, such as environmental and human-capital depreciation, rapid and uncontrolled urbanisation, brain-drain and the notable decline in innovative activities in more modest regions, among others. As the key players in regional and local ecosystems, and active “knowledge creators”, universities are increasingly being called upon to step in as “knowledge translators” to address pressing challenges. Thus, contributing to the regional Smart Specialisation Agenda and implementing Sustainable Development Goals in the “quadruple helix” model, together with public authorities, local businesses and civic society as a whole.

Adopting this as a part of their “third mission”, alongside more traditional linear education and research, universities employ various modes, scales and scopes of engagement for regional and local development. In this special issue we aim to provide insights into the third mission activities of universities, ranging from community rejuvenation efforts to co-creation practices within and outside living labs in education and research.

Our guest authors from South Africa and Ireland discuss the role of universities in the effective regional ecosystems, while the contributors from the USA and the UK shed light on the issues of engagement and university impact in smaller markets and the rural environment. Furthermore, we provide examples of successful collaborative initiatives embracing multidisciplinary challenge-based learning or tackling local issues with an international learning platform originated in Finland and an example of an interdisciplinary programme in Slovenia. In the final part of the magazine, we dive into the exploration of collaborative living labs, bringing you the examples of a library living lab in Spain and urban vitality lab in the Netherlands, both progressively fuelled by universities. It is important to mention that this special issue has been inspired by the two of our Erasmus+ projects, which both address the need for interconnectivity and boosting university potential for local and regional development: University-City Action Lab and RESTART+ Communities. Both projects provided great insight and selected articles for this issue and we would like to call your attention to them as the pinnacle of this publication.

We wish you pleasant reading and many useful takeaways.

You can download the magazine in full HERE.

RESTART+ Magazine Issue 3 is out!


We are delighted to introduce you the third issue of the magazine dedicated to the Erasmus+ project Restart+ Communities. Building on success of RESTART Entrepreneurship, our new generation follow-up project aims to support the local community champions, who can drive the sustainable transformation!

What is in this issue?
Our third issue walks you through the developments within the project and the results from our RESTART+ regional alliances (p.2). We are delighted to announce that our alliances have finalised their Action Plans and ready to present their aspirations for the community development. Following on the RESTART+ projects updates, we would like to introduce you to the cornerstone of our project – a set of open resources and a course on Community rejuvenation, consisting of 6 modules for self-paced learning and training others! (p.4). Additionally, we do not forget to bring to your attention our extensive video cases repository on our Youtube channel – check it out and explore incredible stories of community rejuvenation!

In this issue, we hear the voices from our alliances. Margaret Larkin from Donegal Local Development Company discusses how COVID-19 impacted the delivery of support to community (p. 8) while Mirela Nechita, an entrepreneur from Falticeni, Suceava county, discusses how to bring tourism to a small community.

As the pre-requisite of our project, we recognise that helping the community to reach new peaks involves initiative from a variety of local stakeholders and their close interaction with each other. With this in mind, we would like to share the stories from Remining-Lowex was a research, development and demonstration project aiming to repurpose old industrial sites for community use (p.14) and AGROKLUB, a development that helps farmers in Adriatic region stay connected (p. 16).
We hope the selection of the articles in this issue of our magazine will motivate you to bring new practices to your own community!

We wish you a pleasant reading and stay safe!

You can download the magazine in full HERE.

Remining-Lowex: Redevelopment of European mining areas into sustainable communities


Remining-Lowex was a research, development and demonstration project, co-funded by the European Union’s 6th Framework Programme (FP6) CONCERTO II, which intended to use locally available, low-temperature geothermal energy from abandoned mines as energy source for heating and cooling of buildings. The project ran between June 2007 and June 2014, and involved two participating communities and demonstration sites, Heerlen (the Netherlands) and Zagorje ob Savi (Slovenia), and two associated communities with observer status, Czeladz (Poland) and Bourgas (Bulgaria).

Remining-Lowex aimed to link new developments to degraded industry areas by using abandoned mines as a renewable source of energy and revitalizing the community – also by embracing their heritage. An innovative communication strategy demonstrated that it is possible to take into account community emotions, including past, forgotten hardships and other socio-economic issues of the mine-workers’ communities, to envisage an increased quality of life and social welfare. Here, we focus in more detail on the Slovenian demonstration case of the otherwise large-scale project.

Zagorje ob Savi – Creating Alternative Energy Futures

Zagorje ob Savi is a town in the Central Sava Valley in central Slovenia and the seat of the municipality of the same name. Today, the Zagorje ob Savi municipality is home to about 17.000 residents, while its recent history, as well as everyday life and culture, were shaped by what was once the deepest brown coal mine in Europe (262 meters below sea level). The deposits of coal were discovered in 1755, boosting the region’s economic development and remaining the area’s main economic activity until 1995, when the last mines were closed. A renewed vision of Zagorje ob Savi’s future was needed to transform it from a former industrial mining city into a liveable and sustainable European city. Among other actions, this included switching to alternative and environmentally friendlier energy sources.

The Remining-Lowex project was part of that change. The three key clusters of project activities included construction and energy refurbishment of public and private buildings, training, and demonstration of advanced technical solutions in practice. Within the project, a number of public buildings were renovated, including the local kindergarten, municipal headquarters, and the cultural centre. In addition, over 50 percent of multi-apartment buildings in the town of Zagorje were refurbished and the community energy systems were expanded and modernised. Training on low exergy technologies and utilization of renewable energy sources (RES) was prepared and carried out for businesses, students and pupils, with the aim of expanding the understanding of RES, rational use of energy, and low exergy technologies. The project team also designed a mobile research unit OELA – a low-energy self-sufficient mobile unit for demonstration of new concepts of low exergy technologies on the basis of renewable sources, and use of mine water for heating and cooling of residential or public buildings. The unit serves to carry out regular events related to renewable energy and energy efficiency, and as a demonstration and training facility. The presented technological innovations are associated with the culture of mining, at the same time transcending it to show and promote sustainable energy systems. The interiors as well as the envelope of the unit mimic a mining shaft and are adapted to mining architecture, thereby integrating the local mining heritage into its concept and design. OLEA also demonstrates the transition between a black, carbon-based history and a green sustainable future in the municipality and wider region.

The Key to Success: Multi-stakeholder and Multi-disciplinary R&D

A number of key stakeholders were directly engaged in the project activities, including the students and academic staff of the University of Ljubljana (Faculty of mechanical engineering, Laboratory for sustainable buildings and environmental technologies), the district heating utility, housing company, Zagorje ob Savi municipality council, industry representatives, NGOs, and of course the municipality residents.

Each contributed with their specific expertise and context. Local council and public services had access to local inhabitants and knowledge of specific local challenges regarding, for instance, the environment, energy, or the existing building fund. The council is also the local policy-maker with a level of authority, which proved crucial in ensuring a smooth delivery of the project and creating impact. Academic partners contributed with research, studies, and proposed solutions to the identified challenges that were in the focus of the project, such as sustainable energy and low exergy technologies. The University of Ljubljana students were also involved in research and development activities: they participated in all phases of the project, from planning, to research, measurements, design of solutions, or acquiring offers from technology providers. The students carried out field research as part of their lab assignments and were regularly present at the demonstration site. Industry partners, on the other hand, had the capacity to implement the developed solutions in practice as innovative demonstration cases.

The key result of the REMINING project is the demonstration of retrofitting buildings and building new urban areas within old mining communities, while climatizing these buildings with locally available low-valued energy resources by an integrated design approach, based on low energy principles. Derived specific results are the improvement of spatial planning, environmental effects, and economic performance of the area by providing affordable sustainable energy supply to the new development and integral approach of (urban) development, by using attractive design and low energy costs as magnets for new businesses, and to keep existing and attract new residents to the area.

This blog article is written with reference to a good practice case study report prepared as part of the Erasmus+ University City Action Lab (UCITYLAB) Project.

RESTART Community members standing strong in COVID-19: an update from Donegal


Margaret Larkin from Donegal Local Development Company discussing how COVID-19 impacted the delivery of supports to the Community & Voluntary Sector and how DLDC continued to ensure that the needs of this sector were met during this time. And an update on the activities of the Inishowen Development Partnership on what actions they have taken to continue to provide support and assistance to the surrounding communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Donegal Local Development Company (DLDC)
Despite the impact of COVID-19 and the move to remote working, DLDC have continued to deliver the supports and initiatives as outlined in their 2020 Work Plan. In fact, there was a significant increase in requests for such support as a direct result of this pandemic.

The DLDC team supported local community responses to COVID-19 with a number of initiatives and continue to work hard to develop alternative virtual methods to deliver any planned, in-person events.

Some examples of the initiatives that the DLDC team have been involved in to support the community and voluntary (C&V) sector are highlighted below:

• COVID-19 Community Response Fund
DLDC have supported C&V organisations assisting them in putting a local area crisis community response in place. There was a clear need for financial support to deliver services locally and in response to this, some funds were reallocated to create a COVID-19 – Community Response Fund which benefitted 47 C&V groups across Donegal.

• Regional Emergency Food Response Initiative – DLDC / We Care Foodbank / Community Referral Partners - FoodCloud Initiative
A need for additional food supplies in different community areas throughout Donegal was also identified. DLDC partnered with ‘We Care Foodbank Letterkenny’ to deliver an initiative to increase the supply of food into the County. DLDC coordinated the collection of food supplies from the FoodCloud hub in Galway on a weekly basis and distributed this food to community organisations in Donegal.

• COVID-19 Stability Fund
A COVID-19 Stability fund was established to help C&V, charity and social enterprises experiencing financial difficulties as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 18 C&V organisations were supported with the completion of an application to Pobal for the COVID-19 stability fund, enabling many organisations to be able to continue the operation of their social enterprises.

• COVID-19 – Returning to Work – A guide for Community Organisation.
The team at DLDC developed a guide for community organisations to support them through the process of returning to work and returning to community activity. This publication provided a step by step guide on the processes, policies and procedures which must be put in place prior to reopening. Furthermore, it included information on additional resources, templates and websites for the C&V sector to provide them with extra support, information and guidance on restarting their activities.

Inishowen Development Partnership (IDP)
The Inishowen Development Partnership (IDP) is a community led company, delivering rural development and social inclusion programmes and initiatives in Donegal, as well as other supports such as enterprise & start-up support for businesses and community development support etc... As with the DLDC, they too have had to adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic and devise innovative solutions so that they could continue providing support and assistance to their local community.

• Social Enterprise Supports Initiative (SESI)
DLDC and IDP continue to support Social Enterprises through the delivery of the SESI programme. Through a tailored approach on delivery, they have to-date successfully delivered the following online workshops with a large number of organisations participating.
Workshop 1 – Communicating with Purpose for Social Enterprises.
Workshop 2 - Generating Trading Income for Social Enterprises.
Workshop 3 – Design Thinking for Social Enterprises - This workshop was a live design thinking session facilitated by LYIT.

• Dedicated webpage for COVID-19 Community Support
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IDP acted quickly to create a dedicated webpage containing an up-to-date list of local businesses and organisations across Inishowen, offering support and help to the community. Help included food deliveries, grocery/medication collection and deliveries as well as general offers of assistance to vulnerable groups and individuals. The IDP themselves offered assistance such as printing and delivery services, mentoring community groups, enterprise support for clients via phone and Zoom, school completion family support and feedback to national agencies on issues and challenges facing local groups and communities, to name a few.

• ‘Stronger Together’ Video Series
The IDP ran a series of videos from local groups/businesses/individuals with messages of community support to highlight the importance of community and of supporting one and other during these challenging times. The ‘Stronger Together’ video series featured contributions from a total of 26 participants and uploaded for viewing onto the IDP Facebook page.

• The Job Club Online Support Activities
The Job Club is another initiative supported by the IDP and they moved all their activities online in order to continue providing 1:1 supports and advice on CV design and interview preparation etc… particularly for those who were faced with unemployment as a result of the pandemic. In addition to the above supports, they created new online workshops for jobseekers with tips and advice on preparing to go back to work.

The above accounts, are just a snapshot of the great work and innovation carried out by both the DLDC and the IDP during the COVID-19 pandemic as they sought to continue their activities and provide the critical help and support to local communities and organisations. Furthermore, this pandemic has highlighted the importance of this help and support and how integral it is to local communities.

Provided by: LYIT

RESTART Communities Journey: joining forces for the regional action plan


The Restart+ project has emerged from an awareness of the increased needs that small communities are facing, especially after the economic crisis and the global recession. The effects of the economic crisis are still very evident in communities across Europe. Small towns and villages have been worst hit: cuts in public services, the closure of businesses and high levels of unemployment all contribute to the hollowing out of community life. Through the Restart+ project we aim to provide free tools and resources which equip leaders of community groups, public authorities and educational institutions to adopt an innovative approach to community reactivation.

One of such tools is creating Restart+ Alliances in project partner regions. A Restart + Alliance is a relatively small group of key people who come together as a catalyst for change in a particular place. It brings together a balanced set of representatives from public, private and non-profit community organisations working on social, economic or physical regeneration.

We have created 4 alliances in Ireland, Portugal. Romania and the UK consisting of inspirational organisations and leaders, who drive the community development. As a result of numerous alliances meetings, we have been able to draw the direction for future work and create an action plan for each region. Please access the action plans:

Restart+ Alliance Ireland, Donegal

Restart+ Alliance Portugal, Tâmega e Sousa

Restart+ Alliance Romania, Dolhești

Did you see your own region and interested in learning more and get engaged in Restart+ Alliances and Restart+ Training activities? Please do not hesitate to contact us!

Let’s talk about entrepreneurship, tourism and small communities!


We would like to present you a little community from the North-East Region of Romania, where a local entrepreneur and a hand of people joined forces in order to receive tourists and share local stories.

We invite you to discover a unique attraction in Europe, where the inhabitants are proudly keeping their old and valuable traditions, and are open to share local legends, rituals and customs.

..the perfect place for a sweet escape from the hectic citylife, where you can revive childhood memories,unveil hidden places, enjoy traditional dishes and connect with authentic romanian people that are happy with the simple but meaningful life they live.

We have talked to the founder of this beautiful community and she was open to share with us her experience, difficulties and lessons learnt in the past.

1.Please introduce yourself, name, location and the project you have championed.

My name is Mirela Nechita, and I live in Fălticeni, Suceava county, Romania. I have been an entrepreneur since 2004 when I established my first company. The company is still active and in economic growth although we have had even more difficult times.
The main activity of the business is the trading of textile home decorations. I was always very involved in this company and everything we have created was made with passion and love for the beautiful authentic.
This experience led me to the establishment of a second company with the aim of developing the community in the village where I was born.

2. Tell us about the leadership of your regeneration team?

I have a small team now, but in the past, I had the chance of being a leader to more than 90 employees.
I applied an attitude of firmness sweetened by empathy. Rigor, responsibility, seriousness and permanent communication are my principles.
I also think that holding personal and professional development meetings with my team are very beneficial and I really enjoy them.

3. How did you manage to attract and motivate locals to get involved in activities that promote the community?

The people of the Dolhești community are special: they have a great quality inherited from their ancestors, which is the unification in the spirit of good deeds, of supporting one another, in performing acts of patriotism, charity, justice.
This is the education we received at home, in school, on the village and in the church.
This is how we grew up and we wish that this supreme value, of the spiritual union in the community, will be kept unaltered by our successors.

4. How important is collaboration with other stakeholders in order to reach your goals?

Collaboration is perhaps the most important way to be united. With the support of other stakeholders, we have been able to take important steps towards the proposed objectives.
The first member we started working with was the mayor of Dolhesti, who understood the importance of these initiatives for the community and answered with all the openness to our requests.
The village priests have also a great importance in sustaining this "bunch of souls".
Even though their actions aren’t always visible, the community members feel their support and receive their blessings.
And maybe you think I am joking, but the postman, the foresters, the policeman, all of them are actively, thoroughly and responsibly involved in community projects.

5. Please describe the most important lessons you have learned from your activities to date?

At this question I smile ... and look away .....
I am receiving lessons daily. Every time I arrive home at night, I think of the nicest things that happened in that day. Even though it is not always easy to find the bright side.
The best lessons I have learned are trusting in God and keeping the simplicity especially in the moments when everything seems complicated... life in the village helps you understand these lessons.
The lesson of humbleness and gratitude, when the elderly reach out their hard-working hands to hug you and feel their heart speaking through the pure look on their face.
The lesson of responsibility when I look at the dozens of beautiful children that come on my way when I go to the village. They are so happy, pure and beautiful. We already have a ritual ... we embrace every time we meet. And we are doing it like a rugby team ... if anyone could scan the energy of happiness that is formed in that moments, we could project rays to reach the Sun.
The lesson of beauty in folklore, customs, crafts, traditional clothes.
And as I said, we always receive lessons ... it is important to have the glitter to perceive them.

6. What advice would you give to future entrepreneurs who want to develop projects dedicated to communities?

If they have an idea and especially BELIEVE in the power they will gain during the initiative, do not hesitate to try.

PATIENCE and RIGUROSITY. These are the main ingredients.
Any partnership with experienced and powerful members will be an opportunity to be propelled forward more easily. It is like you are a small trailer and you have the chance to be towed by a powerful car... But keep in mind that you will have to be permanently cautious.

Provided by: NERDA

Data Analytics for Entrepreneurs: Why to care [especially in COVID-19]


An assumption that data analytics is an area of expertise guarded and explored exclusively by data specialists is being widely challenged. Today, data mining, its visualization and analysis are used by virtually any professional layer in larger corporations to improve individual and organisational performance. However, data is yet to find its way to become a source for decision-making among entrepreneurs of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), rarely well-equipped with necessary skills to collect and understand mysterious numbers about their customers. Developing such skills can be a demanding solo trip, unless accompanied with relevant and effective training.

Who has pulled the strings?

According to Tom Davenport, Professor of IT and Management at Babson College (USA), the ever-growing need in data analytics skills among entrepreneurs, has been dictated by two interrelated factors, i.e. a growing mass of data generated on the Internet and a fast-pacing increase of online companies generating these data. Such well-known US companies as Facebook, Amazon and Google, as well as the Chinese tech giants like Baidu and TenCent, have ‘made entrepreneurs care more about [data] analytics’ and how it can be used to achieve intended results. Like their larger competitors, the SMEs with data-literate professionals can benefit from the well-processed data and data-driven decision-making in many ways, e.g. aligning their business strategy, improving their offerings, and highlighting their competitive advantage among others in a respective market segment, etc.

‘First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one.’

by Will McAvoy from The Newsroom

Though large corporations are making the most out of the possibilities offered by data analytics tools and techniques, micro- and SMEs, constituting 99% of all companies in Europe, experience difficulties in applying them. As reported by OECD, ‘software applications to manage business information flows are popular among large firms (more than 75% adoption rate in 2014) but less used by SMEs (less than 20%).’ Later, the Strategic Policy Forum on Digital Entrepreneurship echoed the same concern stating that ‘small European businesses are slow to change and over 41% of EU companies have yet to adopt any of the new advanced digital technologies including … big data analytics.’ Yet sounding dismal, such statistics opens new doors for those who are competent to show the way-out.

What’s in the data analytics combo for present and future entrepreneurs?

Back in 2009, Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, predicted that a data savvy specialist would be ‘a sexy job [to have] in the next 10 years.’ Particularly, he meant statisticians and data scientists. Little did he know that the “sexiness” of data analytics skills would go far beyond these jobs. More recently, in 2018, Dr. Soraya Sedkaoui, senior lecturer at Université de Montpellier (France) and data analyst, denoted that future entrepreneurs, able to slice and dice the data, should demonstrate not only soft skills and a general entrepreneurial streak, but also sex up their scope of competences with the expertise in Math and Stats, data mining and data modeling. By and large, the next generation of entrepreneurs is expected to use data analytics methods ‘to extract value and enhance their professional capabilities.’

Data SET project

The answer to such a tough call seems obvious enough – to train the generation of data-literate entrepreneurs. The Data SET Project encourages to improve the knowledge and skills of entrepreneurship education providers (VET colleges, enterprise agencies, local authorities, HEIs) in conceiving and delivering relevant data analytics skills for entrepreneurs. Properly aligned with students’ learning needs and business processes, such skills will enhance their absorption capacity of future entrepreneurs and improve the quality of their decisions and their overall performance. More to that, knowing how to translate existing data into visually comprehensive and easy-to-use information can stimulate them to explore new business dimensions.

Data SET has embarked on a journey to produce the Guide on Data Skills Development that will be used to update entrepreneurship trainers about the current state of data skills and skills building strategies. Among its manifold outcomes, Data SET created a smart data skills training model, train the first generation of Data SET trainers and launch an online Data SET course - check the results of the project:

Family Business Networks in Scotland


Scotland is a comparatively small country, with a population of around 5.4 million (National Records Office) and a landmass of around 80k km². Family business is a fairly young field of academic research but one where the economic importance to Scotland appears both obvious and obscure. Family businesses make up between 65-80% of businesses worldwide (depending on definition and location) and are particularly important in rural areas. Despite this, they do not get featured heavily in official business statistics. In Scotland (and indeed the UK), business statistics tend to be collated based on a business type, size or sector of operation. Ownership type, including a family dimension, is important because research indicates that family businesses behave differently from their corporate cousins. Raising awareness of family business amongst policymakers and finding routes to support family business was identified as a key area for development in collaborative research between Family Business United Scotland and Queen Margaret University and enacted via a network of family businesses. The network contributes to mutual awareness of and education for family businesses and in addition provides rigorous information for policyholders.

Families run some of the best-established businesses in Scotland. In 2018, research by Fire Brigade Union (FBU) Scotland with partners that include Queen Margaret Business School indicated that the Top 100 family businesses in Scotland alone contributed around £1 billion in profits before tax, gave around £16.6 billion in turnover and represented around 11% onshore GDP, employing 103k people. The ecosystem of the individual family influences, for better or worse, the environment, in which the business developed, and hence influences the part that business might play in engagement with the wider world. Family business therefore offers an alternative lens to consider the social organization of businesses, offering universities an alternative approach in the development of their engagement networks. To facilitate interaction and cooperation with family businesses in Scotland, Queen Margaret Business School has developed a strategic link with a UK based organization called Family Business United. Family Busines United began in England and during its expansion to Scotland developed strategic partnerships with educators. In developing an inclusive family business community for Scotland, FBU Scotland built a platform for the provision of education, events and communication as well as offered a university the opportunity to engage with the family business community on a longer-term basis.

A recent examples of this work is the Scottish Family Business Road Trip, where a sponsored car visits businesses across Scotland facilitating events for locals throughout the journey. The individual businesses have an opportunity to tell parts of their business and family story. The stories and pictures contribute to profile via social media and keep the network alive in the minds of participants whether they can be physically present on the Road Trip or not. Further, in a country with many rural areas, the Road Trip dissipates the sense of isolation and makes it easier for relatively remote regions to join in. Given the relatively greater importance of family business in remote and rural areas, this is a crucial facet of the network. By joining the networks that exist independently from individual projects, a ‘habit of engagement’ builds with long-term benefits for university-business engagement and on-going benefits for businesses.

Interested to learn more? Contact Prof Claire Seaman at or via social media (LinkedIn – Prof Claire Seaman; Twitter @ClaireSeaman)
Authored by: Claire Seaman, the Chair of Enterprise and Family Business at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh.
This article originally appeared on University-Industry innovation Network (UIIN) website. Access the article here.
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National Social Enterprise Policy for Ireland 2019-2022


In this article, our guest author Margaret Larkin, Community Development Manager, Donegal Local Development Company and Restart Communities regional stakeholder shares her views on recently launched ‘National Social Enterprise Policy for Ireland 2019-2022’

In July of this year Minister Michael Ring launched the National Social Enterprise Policy for Ireland 2019-2022. It is the first Government Policy for Social Enterprise in the history of the State and as such is a defining document which will specifically support the development of social enterprise activity as a vital component of the community and voluntary sector in Ireland.

The Policy marks the start of a new phase in the development of social enterprise in Ireland and has the potential to deliver thousands of new jobs at community level throughout Ireland. It is a new policy for a new era and is warmly welcomed by the community and voluntary sector who have for years been calling for this recognition of the sector and acknowledgement of the challenges within.

Volunteers and community representatives throughout Ireland have worked long and hard for many years to champion social enterprise, to promote the concept and the approach that social enterprises takes to achieving social impact. The community & voluntary sector have for years called for a Government Policy which would support the development of social enterprise and would recognise and acknowledge the social benefit they provide and the gaps in service from statutory bodies which many are addressing across rural & disadvantaged communities throughout Ireland.

What is a Social Enterprise?
Social enterprises are businesses whose core objective is to achieve a social, economic or environmental impact, rather than maximising profit for its owners or shareholders

Like other businesses, social enterprises trade in goods or services on an ongoing basis, but any surpluses they generate are reinvested into social objectives.

It is governed in a fully accountable and transparent manner and is independent of the public sector. If dissolved, it should transfer its assets to another organisation with a similar mission.

These characteristics make social enterprises different from enterprises that operate for private profit. But they also sometimes make it difficult for social enterprises to access the type of supports that are available to other enterprises to improve their business models.

Social enterprises are innovative, entrepreneurial and are increasingly utilising new technologies and creative approaches to address social, societal or environmental challenges.

While the term “social enterprise” is relatively new in Ireland, the country has a long tradition of non-State intervention in community and social life which is consistent with the ethos of social enterprise. Many social enterprises have emerged from the community and voluntary sector and build on the work of that sector in addressing social challenges. Thus, many social enterprises in Ireland are governed by voluntary boards.

While the Policy may have been a long time coming, the hope is that the implementation of it will open new opportunities for social enterprises to contribute to the development of local communities, and to support many of those most vulnerable in society, thus enable social enterprise to reach its full potential.
National Social Enterprise Policy for Ireland Objectives:

The Social Enterprise Policy is focused on three key Objectives:

1. Building Awareness of Social Enterprise.
In implementing this policy objective Government will work with social enterprise stakeholders to develop an awareness strategy to raise the profile of social enterprise in Ireland, identify and promote best practice examples of social enterprise and host an annual social enterprise conference.

The policy aims to support social enterprise initiation and start-ups through targeted programmes and initiatives, to explore the scope for further inclusion of social enterprise and social entrepreneurship modules in the education and training system and for promoting social enterprise as a viable model for entrepreneurs and social innovators.

2. Growing and Strengthening Social Enterprise.
The implementation of this objective focuses on building the capacity of social enterprise, improving business and leadership supports, improving access to finance and funding and improving access to markets. The Government, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, will also conduct further research and analysis on the operation of social enterprises within existing legal structures and assess the potential value of a distinct legal form for social enterprises.

3. Achieving Better Policy Alignment.
To support better policy alignment for social enterprises, the Government will develop a better understanding of the interaction between social enterprises and relevant policy areas across Government and will improve data and how data is collected on social enterprises in Ireland.

The Policy sets out a series of 26 commitments on the part of Government across these Objectives, for the development of social enterprise over the period 2019 to 2022.

Bringing about change

It is widely anticipated that, through the implementation of this policy, things will change and the supports desperately needed, particularly in rural Ireland, to sustain and develop social enterprise will be delivered.

The culture of volunteerism in Ireland is strong and the supports and services delivered by volunteers is truly remarkable. By developing this Policy Government has now acknowledged the level of commitment from volunteers whilst also highlighting the need for a strategic approach to delivering on the objectives.

It is widely recognised that gaps exist in training, funding and in a cohesive approach to delivery of supports to social enterprise, with governance and compliance as well as business mentoring and development. Development of this National Social Enterprise Policy for Ireland marks the first step in supporting the development of social enterprise activity as a vital component of the community and voluntary sector in Ireland

Authored by: Margaret Larkin

The Second Meeting of the RESTART+ Alliance in Lousada, Portugal


The meeting began with a presentation about the motivations, the partners and the intellectual outputs of Restart+ project and the concept of the Community Alliance, the main activities to be developed and the benefits of its creation. Then we introduced the characteristics of the Toolkit. We addressed the steps needed to build a Restart+ Community Alliance, the characteristics of an effective Community Alliance, as well as the definition of the vision, mission, objectives, strategies and the action plan. We also spoke about the importance of the transnational interconnections and the interconnections among the members of the Community Alliance.

In the meantime, the discussion began on identifying the needs and resources available in the community, the training needs and the various public opinions in the region. Participants mentioned the importance of creating a local group with critical and sustained opinions about our community. We emphasized that the Municipalities of the region have a very young population but there are needs to learn from other experiences, in order to understand what is being done in other communities. There is a lack of "Soft Skills" for young people to be able to understand the world that surrounds them, in the sense of their evolution. It is important that good practices from other countries are learned in our local community.

Participants also pointed out that from the companies’ point of view, there is a great need to open up the companies to the local community: they could open the doors to students and organise visits by educational institutions. Another idea was the possibility of developing tourism business, since there are foreign people interested in coming to our companies to learn about production in various areas, such as wines, textiles, furniture, footwear and stone.

We discusses the IET – Tâmega Business Institute, a business incubator that covers this region, a business incubator that promotes and stimulates entrepreneurship competences. Also, IET strengthens and prepares small businesses to survive in the marketplace, that currently has about 44 companies installed and 20 virtual companies. One of the projects, the IET is developing, is BEEPATHNET – which is already showing tourists good practices in the area of honey, developed in the region. Another project is the "Jump Box" project, where the soft skills of young graduates are being worked. It’s important to work on the people personalities and talents, addressing the theme of national and international markets, because we are in the era of globalization.

Participants referred the need to compile what the region already does well, listing the existing structural projects, such as the "Romanesque Route" and the "Sagaz" project, in order to be replicated in other contexts. They pointed out that senior universities are important in terms of community revitalization. More and more these groups have a social concern. It was also mentioned the importance of placing the whole dynamic of volunteering in the regional alliance.

The members of the regional alliance highlighted the importance of European programs in the development of our community. They pointed out the "Erasmus" and "European Solidarity Corps" programmes as good practices in terms of the exchange of professionals linked to education, in the participation of our youngsters in training, volunteering and employment activities in other countries of the European Union. They referred that such experiences are extremely enriching in terms of empowering our young people to be future community leaders and to develop innovative projects in existing or future companies. Participants addressed the possibility of conducting a survey to see how many young people have access to an international experience. It would be important to encourage schools to get involved in European project applications that could enable international experiences for young people.

Participants mentioned the culture of the "Be Proud" project, mentioning the importance of working with the resources that the communities already have available. It is important to know the good projects we already have and strengthen them. We still need to implement the "Be Proud" workshops in order to know what we have in our territory and what we can do from our knowledge of the territory.

How did Letterkenny Institute of Technology organised their mini RESTART+ networking event?


Having had several Regional Alliance meetings and met 9 community and voluntary organisations through our case studies we discovered that people within the community and voluntary sector have limited opportunity to network, share experiences and knowledge. We also discovered that many of the challenges faced by organisations had already been overcome by other organisations in the same region but neither knew of the others experience.

Mini Networking Event – the plan
We invited members of our regional alliance and community and voluntary organisations from within our stakeholder group to participate in a facilitated workshop style networking event. Having consulted them on the best time of the day to run this event, we settled on a two hour slot 1600-1800. To keep the energy levels up we organised some pizza and drinks. But first, there was some work to prepare.
Taking a conscious decision to keep the event small and wanting to achieve a fun, interactive outcome, we tried a new approach. An email invitation was sent to each of the target lists. We asked community and voluntary representatives to prepare answers to 3 questions:

1. Who are you?
2. Highlight one challenge your organisation has overcome.
3. If you could solve one problem for your organisation what would it be?

Meanwhile, representatives of development agencies, local authorities and support organisations were asked to prepare the following questions:

1. Who are you?
2. How can you help local organisations who work in the community/voluntary sector?

Both community/voluntary reps and agency reps were asked to prepare a maximum of 3 minute response.

We chose an informal room with comfy chairs to help people relax. Along with a TV screen and laptop which we used to show some of the video case study content we developed, we arranged 4 flipchart pages tacked to the wall with the input from the alliance members.
On arrival each participant signed the registration including the photographic consent form, received a name badge and were given a Restart+ leaflet with some post it notes and a pen. An overview of the project including its outputs was given, introductions were made and the format was outlined. It was made clear to each participant that they would be timed to ensure they stick to the 3 minute slot, if it took less, that would leave more time for questions. We would alert the time limit by raising our hand. Participants were invited to jot down their questions for the various speakers or to indicate the person they would like to speak to by sticking a post-it with their name beside the name of the person they wished to speak to. Alternatively for general questions, they were invited to write general questions on the post-its and stick them on the blank wall chart. We had a surveymonkey evaluation prepared with QR codes for evaluating the event. We also captured notes along the main points.

Mini Networking Event – the reality
The event was good humoured and we dispelled any nerves by informing everyone that this was the first time we had delivered such an event in this style. It relaxed everyone and broke the ice. Everyone stuck to the 3 minute time slot (or less). The post-it props weren’t required as the conversation and discussion flowed naturally. However, we believe that it was better to be prepared to help stimulate discussion if required. It was fun, interesting and honest.

Feedback included:

Effectiveness - “very informative”, “open and communicative”, “project outputs were communicated and a new network was formed”, “very useful networking opportunity”.

Efficiency – “ran very smoothly”, “adaptations were made that were appropriate as the event unfolded”.

Main strengths – “the relaxed atmosphere and environment helped ensure engagement from all participants”, “openness and honesty of discussions”, “case studies”, “open communications”, “networking with community organisations and peers”, “great network for common minds”

Weaknesses – “post it notes weren’t required as people openly engaged with each other”

Improvements for the future – “looking forward to the next one”
About halfway through the event, there was a break for pizza and light refreshments. We thought pizza was a good choice for a casual event so anybody could grab a slice and start talking to whoever they wished. People were also asked to use this time to post any questions or comments to the posters. We were happy to report that not one ‘post-it’ was needed. Although there were twenty people in attendance, everyone felt they got the opportunity to have their say and ask questions. One attendee went so far as to say they learned more over a slice of pizza and a chat than they ever learned at any workshop or class they have been to. Moving back to the couches, the floor opened up for general discussion. Topics ranged from the benefits of networking events, to staffing and youth involvement in organisations. People were not afraid to talk about the challenges they were facing which led to others saying how they overcame similar encounters. The event helped to create a positive energy around the project among the wider stakeholder network. Perhaps next time we will forget the ‘post-its.

A fresh issue of the Restart+ Project Magazine is out!


We are delighted to introduce you the second issue of the magazine dedicated to the Erasmus+ project Restart+ Communities. Building on success of RESTART Entrepreneurship, our new generation follow-up project aims to support the local community champions, who can drive the sustainable transformation!

What is in this issue?
Our second issue walks you through the developments within the project and the growth of our RESTART+ regional alliances. We are excited to introduce you our first intellectual output that aims to ease your journey of establishing regional alliances for your local community rejuvenation – RESTART+ Communities’ Toolkit.

A corner stone of community rejuvenation is provoking the entrepreneurial spirits within its dwellers and the one that propagates the “greater good for all” mission – social entrepreneurship dimension. However, the context, be it environmental or political, is crucial for success. In this light, we examine a recent National Social Enterprise Policy for Ireland, look at the migration patterns in Romania and learn how to stimulate entrepreneurship in the context of low social capital.

As the pre-requisite of our project, we recognise that helping the community to reach new peaks involves initiative from local public stakeholders and their close interaction with each other. With this in mind, we would like to share the stories from Family Business Networks in Scotland, how University of Lincoln (UK) engages with its rural environment, and how an inclusive innovation network HUBb30 serves the territorial development in Barcelona.

We hope the selection of the articles in this issue of our magazine will motivate you to bring new practices to your own community!

You can download the magazine in full HERE.

RESTART+ Communities' Toolkit: A practical guide on why and how to set up a Restart + Community Alliance


A Restart + Alliance is a relatively small group of key people who come together as a catalyst for change in a particular place. It brings together a balanced set of representatives from public, private and non-profit community organisations working on social, economic or physical regeneration.

Across Europe there are lot of networking and strategic bodies that fit into this description and a lot of time is already being invested in these bodies. However the kind of alliances we are proposing are different in that they are driven by community aspirations, knowledge and passion and not external ideas of what the community should be.

There are a lot of very dedicated community volunteers working hard in their own individual ways. These volunteers have a wealth of experience and knowledge about their communities, but few channels to express this knowledge or to match it to opportunities for regeneration. When local people are offered the chance to come together and channel resources into the community, as for example in the Big Local programme in the UK, there is a willingness to innovate and a high level of responsibility for the proper spending of resources.

When it comes to community regeneration there is no one size fits all approach. Balancing community issues with the needs and drives of large public or private bodies is tricky, particularly when regeneration resources often flow from large and highly regulated organisations. This is why we have pilot Restart Alliance projects running in four regions and will feedback experience from these on our website.

We see the potential benefits from an effective community regeneration alliance as:
• Fast tracking knowledge into and out of communities, allowing communities access to wider horizons, spreading innovation and increasing the pace of change.
• A mechanism for pooling resources
• More sustainable economic opportunities based in the community, with a particular focus on creating and expanding social enterprises
• More emphasis on community heritage and the value of community efforts
• More collective influence on local and regional public bodies which are difficult for small groups or organisations to access

If any of these potential benefits resonate with you or your community then you should consider scoping the possibilities for building an alliance in your area. To support you, we have devised a Restart + Communities’ Toolkit: A practical guide on why and how to set up a Restart + Community Alliance, which you can download right here.

You can download the magazine in full HERE.

Dolhești community at the World Congress of Culinary Traditions in Sibiu, Romania


The representatives of Dolhești community, members of the Restart+ Regional Alliance from Romania, together with representatives of the North-East Regional Development Agency, took part at the World Congress of Culinary Traditions, that was held in 17 – 20 November, in Sibiu, Romania within the project “Sibiu - European Gastronomic Region in 2019”. The congress brought together delegates from over 22 countries who presented wedding traditions and customs and also cooked traditional wedding menus from the country or region in which they live.

The North-East Regional Development Agency represented the North-East Region of Romania with a delegation of the Dolhesti Commune - Suceava county, at the World Congress of Culinary Traditions.

The participation in this event was a great opportunity to put on the map of the international gastronomy the authentic tastes specific to the Moldovan villages. The event was a very beneficial exchange of experience for the Dolhesti community as the representatives had access to a set of successful projects implemented internationally, which can be transposed into the local context.

On this occasion, the customs and wedding menus specific to the North-East region of Romania were presented and local authentic gastronomy was promoted. The delegation was led by Mrs. Roxana Pintilescu, Director of North-East Regional Studies Center, as Project Manager within the Restart+ project. by Mrs. Mirela Nechita, President of the Somuzului Valley NGO, Mr. Cristinel Barculescu, Mayor of Dolhestii Mici Commune, Mr. Gheorghe Ciocarlan, Coordinator of the Folkloric Ensemble “Strajerii” and gathered a number of 36 representatives of the commune: the members of the Folkloric Ensemble, the village priest, the postman and also housewives and households from the village. The participation to this event was also a great opportunity to organise the third Restart+ Community Alliance meeting within the Restart+ project "Communities in action".

Mrs. Mirela Nechita, the founder of Somuzului Valley NGO, Dolhesti village, gave us an interview in which she speaks about the importance of participating in this kind of events and also about the community’s values.

“The participation in this event, was a great opportunity to promote the local gastronomy, in the country and worldwide. At the congress we have met special people and we had the chance to discover unique gastronomic cultures from all continents.

We have been an unknown community until recently, so for us the participation to this event was a valuable experience that gave us the chance to present the culinary traditions of the area and the gastronomic abilities of the housewives from the village.

The most important thing about our community is that people gained great confidence in their values, and this is how we found the force to go forward in any project with dignity and dedication. We value and promote traditional crafts, dishes, hidden places.. Every pot, jug, wodden barrel, old receipt has its own story. Dolhesti is a village where the inhabitants are proudly keeping their old and valuable traditions, and are open to share local legends, rituals and customs.”

The View from the Northern Ireland RESTART+ Alliance


The first Alliance meeting for the Northern Ireland Region took place in Banbridge District Enterprise headquarters at the end of August, attended by local and regional groups with a combined membership totalling more than 600 groups. These covered social enterprises, rural development, development trusts and business development. The discussion identified some key issues for small groups and in the wider context that they work in. It also underlined the fact that Northern Ireland has a lot of small community groups and has some strong networking bodies with a diverse membership, but with scarce resources the community and social enterprise sectors are still struggling to make a major impact on the slow moving business of government.

Those at the first meeting were generous with their experience and resources. As we reviewed the assets available, it became clear that Northern Ireland seems to have existing training resources in some key areas, notably in measuring social value and developing social enterprises.

One of the first issues raised was a lack of awareness in local gatekeepers, such as council officers and councillors, of the needs and potential of small community regeneration. Without a grounding in effective regeneration processes they are unable to direct officers and policy to release much needed resources. On top of this local level there is a regional structure with a top down approach. With substantial political pressures, gatekeepers are often unable or unskilled in listening to small communities and translating what they hear into timely, cost effective action.

The net result of this issue it that it can take a long time for a community group to get into a position of influence, to attract and to channel the investment it really needs, as opposed to the investment that local or regional government has decided to make. Considerable confidence and vision is required to say no to inappropriate funding and to drive rather than passively receive investment. A highly placed political champion can be key to the achievement of influence. Spreading the experience of established, successful groups could shortcut a long and painful process for newer groups.

One of the standard tools for guiding and evidencing public investment in regeneration is statistics on deprivation levels. However the fairly arbitrary statistical boundaries or definitions involved mean that a small struggling rural community within a larger area of affluence is easily overlooked. There may even be a reluctance in political leaders to acknowledge that their area has any kind of issue that might impact on its image.

It is clear that to navigate the various barriers to influence, community leaders need both confidence and exposure to knowledge. The phrase “exposure to knowledge” is deliberately chosen to reflect the view that the word training is not always appropriate in a community setting where adults have a lot of skills already and may find formal training off putting. That community setting in our case can also come with a need for more than just access to training materials. Some human guidance and mentoring could be critical for creating effective community leaders who can sustain a long development process, and this is something we will need to consider as we move on to creating an action plan for the Restart + Alliance.

As we move forward with the Alliance we need to consider the differing functions of our initial group, developing a frontline community enterprise or representing and supporting their sector. These differences are challenging to reconcile. While some regional networks may see a role for themselves in the Alliance, others with considerable experience to offer may be under too much time pressure to commit. In evolving the Alliance we also want to reflect the issue raised in the first meeting about increasing the awareness and skills levels of council officers, political leaders and regional civil servants.

La Marina Living Lab: The Transformation of the Historic Harbour by Leveraging its Hidden Potential


La Marina Living Lab is an urban laboratory, which seeks to engage citizens in the transformation of “La Marina de Valencia”: the historic harbour of the city of Valencia. The Lab is based on a user-oriented process, in which public space is adjusted to the preferences of those who work, study and play in La Marina. Furthermore, it follows a multi-stakeholder approach, counting on the support of research organisations, public administrations, civic associations as well as the private sector.

La Marina is managed by Consorcio València 2007 (CV07) – a public institution, formed as an alliance between the Government of Spain, the Regional Government of Valencia and Valencia City Council.
La Marina Living Lab does not have its own physical building or laboratory. It is rather an initiative of co-creation and co-design in which CV07 commits to letting the entire urban space of Valencia´s harbour be used as a testbed for trying out new innovative projects. La Marina Living Lab is a vast and ambitious project fuelled by the conviction that bringing all relevant stakeholders on board is the only way public spaces can be designed in a way that truly work for everybody.

An example of university-city collaboration
La Marina was born in collaboration with Western Sydney University (WSU), which had an important role in the formulation of the its theoretical backbone. The Polytechnic University of Valencia also helped in the development of the sustainability strategy.

Several other educational institutions have also collaborated with La Marina. Rice School of Architecture developed a workshop in which 9 students designed solutions to activate old buildings from the south area of La Marina. Escuela de Empresarios launched “Marina Challenge” to develop a strategy for La Marina focused on 3 areas: nautical; leisure, culture and tourism; innovation, technology and entrepreneurship. The faculty of biological sciences of Valencia University also established a project in which students developed ideas to improve the accessibility and use of the space. Polytechnic of Valencia hosted a workshop in which La Marina has been involved, discussing with 3 foreign students the possible and sustainable use for the Base Alinghi de la America’s Cup. This University has also contributed to the ideas’ exchange between La Marina and universities from Vietnam.

Besides, La Marina has recently realized collaborations with the Scientific Park of the University of Valencia and the Faculty of Geography and History of Valencia University.

La Marina has a new vision for the future whereby both tradition and inventiveness drive the transformation of the economy. The main goals of the Living Lab can be described as converting La Marina into the city’s engine for economic development through innovation, promote economic activation of the space, creating a sustainable, inclusive and dynamic public space, and foster citizen appropriation.

The activities performed include events, brainstorming activities, training sessions, leisure activities, workshops and projects, often with the collaboration of universities from the city and beyond.

The project attempts to respond to various challenges
First of all, at the urban level, La Marina aspires to reactivate economically an abandoned public space with a big potential for social use. It is recognized that such impact will not be limited to La Marina itself but will be expanded to the seaside area and its adjacent neighbourhoods, which were largely overlooked in past decades.
Secondly, La Marina aspires to create a “new story” and re-brand a “new and modern Valencia” as a differentiation to the previous vision defined by short-sighted construction projects, economic overspend and international events. So, this new vision will be oriented towards people, innovation and creativity.
Thirdly, La Marina seeks non-speculative development. Instead of the model dominated by large-scale investment of capital and infrastructure, the new model proposed is based on values – inclusivity, open public space, and activities or initiatives for all citizens. Hence, the project aims to strengthen the connection between neighbourhood associations, and the cultural and artistic vibe, as well as other social entities, in a participative and open way.

Authored by: Catarina Reis
This blog article is written with reference to the La Marina Living Lab Good Practice Case Study Report prepared as part of the Erasmus+ University City Action Lab (UCITYLAB) Project. It was originally published

Supporting Graduate Entrepreneurship in the Cultural & Creative Industry Sector – SHADOWS


Entrepreneurship drives innovation, competitiveness, job creation and growth. It allows new innovative ideas turn into successful ventures and can unlock the personal potential of individuals. The Entrepreneurship Action Plan 2020 (EAP 2020) states that “investing in entrepreneurship education is one of the highest return investments Europe can make” and the Europe 2020 strategy recognises entrepreneurship and self-employment as key for achieving smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. To bring Europe back to growth and higher levels of employment, Europe needs more entrepreneurs. EAP 2020 sets out a number of actions to be taken to support entrepreneurship in Europe including “developing entrepreneurial education and training” and “identifying positive role models”.

Young people have been hit hard by the global economic crisis and youth unemployment levels remain persistently high as the recovery in Europe advances slowly. Youth unemployment rates at the end of 2015 in partner countries stood at PT 32.6%; DE 7.1%; UK 13.5%; IE 19.2%; RO 23.3%; PL 20.5%; CY 31.7%; FI 22.1%. One stark feature of the current employment crisis is the high number of graduates currently out of work or working well below their skill and educational level. In the words of one commentator “this is painful human face of the crisis as world’s best and brightest are wasted” (Angel Gurría, The Times).

The critical role played by start-ups in driving economic development and job creation is increasingly understood. Factory floors are progressively being replaced by cultural and creative communities whose raw material is their ability to imagine, create and innovate. In this new digital economy, immaterial value increasingly determines material value, as consumers look for new and enriching 'experiences'. Enterprise policy aimed at achieving Europe 2020 targets centres around the development of the SME sector. In 2015, SMEs accounted for over 99% of all non-financial enterprises in Europe. 92.2% of all SMEs are micro-enterprises with fewer than 10 employees while the typical European micro-enterprise employs only 2 to 3 persons. There are some 21 million SMEs in Europe, supplying about 85% of jobs ( contributing 58.1% of the total value-added created by EU businesses. In past eras 'jobs for life' and 'skills for life' predominated in a marketplace of stable trades and professions; however today's young people leaving education are moving into a world of “occupational quick-sands and volcanoes” in which entrepreneurship can be a viable alternative to dependent labour (OECD 2010).

On top of being essential drivers for diversity, the cultural and creative industry sector is one of Europe's most dynamic sectors comprising highly innovative companies and contributing approximately 2.6% to EU GDP. It is a sector with high growth potential and provides quality jobs to over 5 million people (Eur-Lex: Green Paper - Unlocking the potential of creative industries, 2010). Cultural and creative businesses often contribute to boosting local economies in decline, contributing to the emergence of new economic activities, creating new and sustainable jobs and enhancing the attractiveness of European regions and cities (DG Enterprise – Working Paper 2011). EU cohesion policy has recognised the multifaceted contribution of the cultural and creative industry sector to its strategic objectives of convergence, competitiveness and employment.

For most creative individuals developing a new product or idea, the focus is firmly placed on what it can do; how it can be used; what makes it different. While these are all essential pre-requisite to any future potential business of equal importance are questions like: Who are the management team behind the business? What is the business model proposed? How will intellectual property be protected? Does the product or idea have scalable potential? So while having the right idea might get you half the way to success, it will only get you half the way as core business management skills are also required. While individual capacities like creativity, motivation and powers of persuasion are often considered to be key attributes that drive new business ventures marrying those skills to business acumen brings success.

Entrepreneurship training is a rapidly developing policy field with strong potential for learning from other areas, but it is important to focus on the real needs of entrepreneurs, which extend well beyond traditional business planning and accounting skills (OECD 2011). It is widely accepted that target group specific, coherent entrepreneurship education initiatives are in short supply throughout Europe. Bringing down barriers to entrepreneurship; exploring options for becoming an entrepreneur; promoting more favourable attitudes towards entrepreneurship in public opinion; reducing the stigma of failure for entrepreneurs; promoting entrepreneurial skills as valuable life skills; are issues with a European dimension that require a European response.

For more information about the project, please visit its website: „Supporting Graduate Entrepreneurship in the Cultural & Creative Industry Sector – SHADOWS”.

Analysis of Romania’s External Migration


About a quarter of a million Romanians migrated temporarily to more economically developed countries for financial, professional, or family reasons, in 2017. Of the total Romanian emigrants, about 85% are people aged 15-64, economically active. The main reasons for external migration are attributed to (1) the dissatisfaction with low income, (2) precarious jobs, (3) the lack of real opportunities for professional and social achievement, (4) the wish of improvement in the quality of life for themselves and their families.

Statistical analysis of external migration during 2007-2017
Together with the negative natural growth, migration is an important cause of the constant decrease of the Romanian population and contributes to the phenomenon of demographic aging.

In the first year after accession to the European Union, Romania recorded the peak of external migration, 544.074 people (an emigration rate of 25.7‰). In 2017, the number of temporary emigrants is at the highest level recorded after 2009, although the average monthly nominal net wage in Romania has steadily increased in recent years.

Thus, starting from an average monthly nominal net wage of 1042 lei in 2007, it reached 2383 lei in 2017, which means an increase of 128% as compared to the moment of joining the European Union. Even if there were these wage increases, the Romanian employees still have the lowest wages in the European Union, the gap being significant. Even if wages have risen, people do not have living standard comparing with the developed old EU Member States. But not only wage earning has an influence on migration, but the whole economic and social climate characterized by an increased instability.

As seen in the above charts, in the year of joining the European Union, most Romanians preferred Italy and Spain, but there was a substantial change in the following 10 years, as United Kingdom becomes the most attractive destination.

"The situation is very interesting and I think there may be a predominance of the highly skilled labor emigrating from these counties. This is also confirmed by the fact that there is a very large increase in the share of Romanian emigrants who choose the UK as a destination. Traditionally, the UK has attracted Romanian emigrants who work mainly in the IT area, in the medical sector and in the creative industries, including architects, designers or people working in the entertainment industry, "said prof. Monica Roman from the Department of Statistics and Econometrics of the Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies.

Reducing the massive brain drain phenomenon in the following fields: research - academic, medicine and information and communication technology, is an important subject for Romania’s workforce stability. Efforts should be made to encourage return migration, which is ideal for the countries of origin. This migration is defined as brain circulation and it consists of acquiring education/knowledge abroad and then finding a job in the country of origin.

At present, the external migration of the economically active population is a socio-demographic risk to Romania’s national security, along with a decline in population and demographic aging. In the absence of concrete measures to reduce the flow of external migration, this social phenomenon will have socio-economic and demographic consequences in the medium and long term.

Source: National Institute of Statistics, Romanian Statistical Review Supplement, Decembre 2018”.

The Second RESTART+ Communities Consortium Meeting in Lousada, Portugal


From the 5th to the 7th of August, 2019, the RESTART+ project consortium paid a visit to the green heart of the Sousa River valley in the northwest of Portugal – the city of Lousada, where the consortium was warmly welcomed by the project partner the Municipality of Lousada. The second transnational project meeting set the platform for the project partners to share the progress so far and discuss the future development of the project.

The two-day programme provided the participants with the opportunity to discuss the status-quo of the development of the RESTART+ Regional Alliances in 4 countries (Ireland, Northern Ireland, Portugal and Romania), projects’ intellectual outputs, dissemination efforts and plans for the sustainability of the project.

RESTART+ Alliances
This late spring and beginning of summer, the first Regional Alliances meetings have been held in three project countries – Ireland, Romania and Portugal. The leaders for the alliances (Letterkenny Institute of Technology – Ireland, NERDA – Romania, and Municipality of Lousada – Portugal) reported on a successful kick off discussions with their relevant stakeholders on the present and the future of the regional development and the need for strong community leadership. The Regional Alliances connect the representatives from various domains relevant for a holistic and well-rounded regional growth – the learning institutions, regional development agencies, business associations, private and public sector representatives among others. The partners have highlighted the positive reception of the project’s mission and the desire of their respective participants for an active involvement in the future training and learning activities.

RESTART+ Communities’ Toolkit
NERDA (Romania) presented the first draft of the RESTART+ Communities’ Toolkit, which explains why and how to set up a RESTART+ Community Alliances for a sustainable community growth. The guide highlights the needs and the opportunities of each partner region, while listing the necessary steps and providing the tools for building the RESTART+ Community Alliance independently. Almost finalized, the publication will soon be available online – stay tuned for more details!

RESTART+ Communities’ Self-Assessment Tool
To initiate and develop the strategic plan for the community rejuvenation, the community leaders need to identify their communities’ strengths, opportunities and assets, while discovering their individual learning needs in meantime. To assist the community champions in doing so, we aim to develop an open and interactive self-assessment tool. During the meeting BDEL (Northern Ireland), responsible for the development of the tool, shared their vision and the draft for the online resource, which was discussed with other partners. The online self-assessment tool will be closely linked to the RESTART+ Communities Open Education Resources, creating a continuum in the participant’s learning curve.

RESTART + Communities Open Education Resources
RESTART + Communities Open Education Resources will not only serve as a foundation for the training program for the community leaders, but will also be transformed into a set of self-pace learning open-education tools. To complement the educational materials with practical examples, the partners are in the process of collecting the case studies on the regional development in their communities, while translating them into an interactive visual form – short videos. Take a look at our Facebook page to see where Letterkenny Institute of Technology have already started posting their vlogs. The leader of this intellectual output, Momentum (Ireland), reported on the steady progress in the development of the resources, which will be accessible on the RESTART+ Communities’ Online Platform as soon as they are ready.

In addition to the talks about the intellectual outputs, the partners have briefly discussed the future arrangements for the learning week, dissemination and exploitation plans and administrative issues regarding the project’s implementation phase.

Overall, the meeting was a success in terms of its outcomes, supported by the generous hospitality of the host partner. The partners enjoyed the traditional northwest Portuguese cuisine, Lousada’s green fields, and a fun trip to the largest city in the region and the main producer of Port wine – Porto.

The next partner meeting is planned to take place in Banbridge, Northern Ireland in April, 2020

Welcome to the Restart+ Project Magazine!


We are delighted to introduce you the first issue of the magazine dedicated to the Erasmus+ project Restart+ Communities. Building on success of RESTART Entrepreneurship, our new generation follow-up project aims to support the local community champions, who can drive the sustainable transformation!

What is in?
Our first issue aims to highlight the motivations and the vision of the project, as well as shedding light onto the ongoing process of establishing the Restart+ Alliances in the project countries (Ireland, Northern Ireland, Portugal, and Romania). While the work in progress, the first stepping stones have already been laid and we are happy to share those developments with you.

The community rejuvenation starts with the leaders that inspire a more open, entrepreneurial mindset among its community to facilitate the bottom-up local growth. This issue brings you the examples of the initiatives on the regional level that facilitate the (social) entrepreneurship in creative and cultural industries with the international project "SHADOWS", while highlighting a spectacular project singlehandedly initiated by student to promote a more active engagement and entrepreneurship in Müsnter region (Germany)- Venture Club Münster.

As the pre-requisite of our project, we recognise that helping the community to reach new peaks involves initiative from local public stakeholders and their close interaction with the society itself. With this in mind, we would like to share the stories from Hollands Kroon Municipality (The Netherlands) on how they face the challenge of innovating from within, as well as how the public alliance in Valencia has utilised the hidden potential of a historic harbour La Marina (Spain) to open the space for community co-creation.

We hope you the selection of the articles in this issue of our magazine motivate you to bring new practices to your community!

You can download the magazine in full HERE.

Beginning the Restart+ Journey in Northern Ireland


Banbridge District Enterprise is a local economic development group with a vision of sustainable regeneration fed by a growth in entrepreneurial attitudes and skills. The journey we are setting out on with our Restart Alliance partners over the next 18 months is not a simple one, but it could be a catalyst for long overdue change in many of our small communities that are easily overlooked and isolated.

Outside of the two major cities of the region the population of Northern Ireland is very dispersed, with a patchwork of small towns, villages and, increasingly, a rural landscape of scattered private houses with a limited infrastructure.

The local economy is largely service based, and we have a post conflict society still working to build positive cross community relations, as well as a more balanced, sustainable economy. Our region has plentiful cultural, built and environmental heritage assets that are undeveloped and could be the basis for more inclusive, sustainable regeneration of communities dealing with the legacy of a deeply fractured identity.

In the context of shrinking public sector budgets, traditional investment in community projects is hard to find, and the social enterprise approach is gaining ground. We have had small amounts of community development and some well established local development bodies, such as Restart Alliance members Rural Community Network and Development Trust Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland is a society with a strong volunteering ethic, so there are also small community groups and local networks scattered across the region. However we also have a dominant and risk averse public sector that is a gatekeeper for regeneration resources. Before it collapsed in 2017, regional government had begun to make moves towards a social economy and incorporating social outcomes into its planning processes. We are now without direction amidst the turmoil of Brexit.
This creates a situation in which willing volunteers have heavy demands on their time and many professional skill sets to navigate. We have been told by Alliance members that access to training is hampered by a complete lack of resources. So while there are accredited vocational courses from entry level upwards in social enterprise, for example, there is no way to finance the course, the travel or the time commitment.

There is also intelligence that the type of training offered can be too focused on legal and governance issues. Leaving a vital basket of regeneration skills untouched. All of which reflects a more top down approach, vulnerable to short term political enthusiasms rather than the more strategic, long term, grass roots growth that makes sustainable community regeneration possible.

We are currently recruiting to our Restart Alliance with a meeting planned at the end of August. Already in our Alliance we have expertise in key issues such as returning land to community ownership, developing a community profile and embedding social value within local government and economic regeneration. Our partners are committed to making small communities sustainable in a rapidly changing world with many challenges that can only be met by coming together to create change. Recently we were reminded of the transformative power of the Co-operative movement that has hundreds of years of experience to offer, and of the fact that we have an instinct to work together. Freeing the ingenuity and energy of small communities is more important than ever and we look forward to building our Restart Alliance and being a catalyst for sustainable change.

Restart+ Communities Regional Alliance Ireland – Architects of a Successful Project


Letterkenny Institute of Technology has extensive experience in participating in stakeholder networks, the fact that we are the only Higher Education Institution in Co. Donegal and the uniqueness of our geography sees to that. While we have experience in this, we still acknowledge the challenge of engaging with and asking busy people to lend us their time.

Preparing the Groundwork
Within the Development Office and School of Business, we dedicate significant time to planning our approach and identifying who the key stakeholders are within the context of the Restart Communities project. Our Vice President for Research, Equality & External Affairs is extremely experienced in the regional community and economic development field and we gladly follow his lead and advice. We believe that a good functioning and successful regional alliance is fundamental to the success of the project overall so we have several preparatory meetings. Once we have identified the key stakeholders we lay the foundation.

Laying the Foundation
Together we have identified stakeholders from local government, regional development companies, education & training providers, enterprise agencies (including enterprise and community support through Irish language) and youth services. We are mindful of our geographical location and our closeness to our neighbours in Northern Ireland. Therefore, we decide it would be appropriate to invite representation from local government in Northern Ireland. So, we have identified our key stakeholders but we are missing a vital link – community representation.

Building our Alliance
To build a successful alliance we believe that two-way engagement from the outset is crucial. Our Vice President extends an email invitation to the key stakeholders we have identified inviting them to the first meeting. In our invitation we provide as much information as possible about the project without the information becoming too heavy. We set the date and ask for attendance or a nomination.

Breaking Ground
We hold our first meeting on 03 April 2019 over a morning period, followed by a networking lunch. After making personal introductions, we provide an overview presentation of the project, highlighting the success of the ErasmusPlus funded project that has gone before: Restart Entrepreneurship. Already we know that we have a good team around the table as there are lively and engaging questions and discussion. It’s going to be a good one!

Building the Team
We make it clear to our Restart Communities Alliance that we are missing a vital element to the project and the future success of the Alliance – representation from the community sector. As we are a large county, we spend significant time agreeing a framework for identifying representation from the community sector. We want to ensure it is fair, with good geographical and sectoral spread. We agree a way forward and we are confidence that we will have solid and strong community representation at the next meeting of the Regional Alliance.

Laying the Blocks
The meeting is very productive and we come away with three concrete and substantial actions from the meeting:
• Alliance members are to identify and nominate community representation to LYIT, which LYIT will then work to recruit on to the Restart Communities Regional Alliance.
• LYIT are to begin work on a situation analysis and research into the socio-economic and community landscape in Donegal.
• Together we are to identify potential models of good practice that LYIT will then work into case studies.

Outlining the Schedule of Works
We agree timelines to these actions. We agree to have community representation secured and a first draft of the situation analysis prepared for presentation at the next Restart Communities Regional Alliance mid-June. We also agree that the case study work will be more time-consuming and while the work will run concurrently, we will have draft case studies prepared to present at the third meeting which will take place in September/October 2019.

Progress to Date
Almost two months since our first meeting, progress is good. We have secured community representation on to the Regional Alliance for the next meeting. Our research is taking shape and almost at first draft stage. The preparatory work for our case studies is well underway. We started with a focus group to determine key themes, which we are now mapping before moving on to conducting individual case studies across the key themes identified. Feedback to date has been extremely positive with all community stakeholders keen to share information and knowledge. Working together makes the region stronger than working alone.

Lessons Learned…
Taking time at the beginning before starting your Regional Alliance is an investment. It is tempting to pull a team of people together and see what emerges. However, the input and engagement is much richer from participants when your intentions are clear. When you ensure that members know that you value and welcome their input, it leads to an exciting and lively discussion about the possibilities and the outputs to come. We look forward to more time with our Restart Communities Regional Alliance.

Erasmus+ Project sets to support the community leaders to boost the community growth


The RESTART+ Communities project, funded under the European Commission’s Erasmus+ programme, officially started on 1 December 2018 and was launched at the kick-off meeting at the leading partner Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Ireland on 26-27 March, 2019.

RESTART+ Communities draws upon the findings and results of its successor RESTART Entrepreneurship project, which aimed at supporting second-time entrepreneurs. In its second edition, RESTART+ Communities steps forward to build the regional alliances of practice to equip community leaders with knowledge, resources and training opportunities to facilitate smart, sustainable and inclusive community growth. In the course of 2 years, the project team will develop:

- Produce a Restart + Communities toolkit (IO1) and use it to create 4 Community Alliances (IO2) comprising 12 community leaders in each country;
- Create a Self-Assessment Tool (IO3) to help community leaders identify strengths, opportunities and assets for community reactivation;
- Develop a unique training model, delivered through OERs (IO4) and an online course (IO5), to provide community leaders with the knowledge and skills to adopt a transformative, sustainable approach to local community investment and regeneration;
- Consolidate the capacity of the Alliance members through a Communities of Best Practice 5-day training programme;
- Disseminate results widely to enable scaling of the Alliance + training approach in participating countries and replication in other regions of Europe.

The RESTART+ Communities project consortium consists of 7 organisations from 6 countries, each with a direct interest in using the project’s outputs to further their work with community leaders. Drawn from public, private and non-profit sectors, each partner will bring valuable knowledge and networks which will contribute to the project aims. Partners include Letterkenny Institute of Technology (Ireland; lead partner), Momentum Marketing (Ireland), Banbridge District Enterprises Limited (Northern Ireland), North-East Regional Development Agency (Romania), The Municipality of Lousada (Portugal), European E-learning Institute (Denmark) and University Industry Innovation Network (The Netherlands).