As well as working with Pan-European Youth Panel and visiting the Future Classroom Lab last week in Brussels I also attended the 2013 Safer Internet Forum (#SIF2013) funded by the European Commission and organized by European Schoolnet.
I was my privilege to chair the opening panel where we were discussing the opportunities that the Internet can bring to others. In particular, developing entrepreneurship opportunities for young people. Joining me on the panel were three exceptional young people Albert Geisler Fox, Alja Isaković and Nina Devani. Now, these three folks are involved in all sorts of web based entrepreneurship from app development, social media marketing, cyber-security, robotics, wearable computing and Internet based philanthropy. What they have achieved individually and collectively is no less than impressive – particularly as Nina was only 14 years old!
Anyway – there was a lot of interesting discussion on our panel. To help me prepare I came across the 2009 Nesta Report on Youth Led Innovation which offers proposals for encouraging more young people to take part in youth-led innovation developed with focus groups of young innovators and the organisations that work with them.
One of the things the report highlights are some barriers to Youth Led Innovation. Which include:
A: Negative attitudes towards young people can limit their confidence
B: Power relationships with adults can inhibit young people from taking the lead
C: Familiarity can impede innovation
D: Structures aimed at increasing innovation may act as barriers
E: There can be legal and financial constraints and lack of support
F: Technology is insufficiently accessible to all
In our panel discussion we also talked about some other barriers which included the need for national law to embrace youth led innovation (eg: it is hard for someone under the age of 18 to start a business), that we need to spread the language and share out understanding of business (eg: in a one person company you still have a CEO) that young people need good role models and that this has to include good business role models (eg: it was noted that these don’t always some from schools) and we need transparency in developing innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship (eg: schools often say that they want to encourage innovation but they really want young people just to pass exams).
We also discussed facilitators to innovation. Again the NESTA report gave us a good starting point by suggesting:
A: Social capital gained through social networking
B: Role models provide major sources of support
C: Support and trust of others is crucial
D: Flexible space, time and opportunities enable youth-led innovation to develop
In our panel discussion we also talked about the importance of funding and support (eg: micro grants and start-up capital), that people need space to innovate and schools don’t always supply this (eg: hack spaces), people need to be able to reflect on their approach to innovation and this should ideally be done with the support of others.
Next in the panel we spent a bit of time talking about the future and the panel were also keen to emphasise that the basics of digital living were also important to entrepreneurship (eg: password security and digital literacy).
We talked about some of the exiting technology that is rapidly becoming more ubiquitous such as 3D Printing, MOOCs, Wearable Computing, Big Data, 4G and collaborative cloud based apps.
One of my concluding remarks on the panel was that I would like to see a strand at next years Safer Internet Forum dedicated to future technology and potential risks. I feel that we are always behind with trying to find solutions and develop education programs. But with a little more thought we could be a lot more pro-active and at the same time support a lot more people in need of advice.
Overall a good and healthy discussion and I look forward to reading the official report when it becomes available later in the year.
I’ll be looking forward to #SIF2014.