On 20-22 October 2015, MY-WAY, a Horizon 2020 project Europa Media is currently coordinating, participated at the ICT2015, the yearly event organised by the European Commission and gathering the main policy, research and business players in the Information and Communication Technology field. A perfect networking occasion, the event was held in warm, welcoming Lisbon and was opened by Günther Oettinger, the EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, and by His Excellence Aníbal Cavaco Silva, President of the Republic of Portugal.
Several panels provided detailed descriptions of the forthcoming funding opportunities in the 2016-2017 Work Programmes of Horizon 2020, focusing on ICT-relevant calls throughout all topics. To get a sense of what was presented by Mr. Zoran Stančič, download the Power Point presentation from the event’s website. Videos of most sessions are also available on the official event page. EU funding opportunities were not the only focus, as countless parallel discussions had been organised on different aspects of European collaboration on ICT: to mention a few, small networking sessions were organised by single projects on specific issues, a pitch competition took place and the Startup Europe Forum hosted ongoing talks. In addition, two exhibition areas showcased the results of some of the most prominent projects in ICT funded by the European Union, and included booths on international cooperation between the European Union and third countries, such as Mexico, Japan, the US and South Korea. Furthermore, individual booths presented various initiatives and offices supporting research in Europe, such as the IPR Helpdesk.
MY-WAY partners have fully taken the opportunity to create new connections: we have met innumerable young startuppers and entrepreneurship enthusiasts, successful businessmen and women, representatives of accelerator programmes and several other key individuals in the European entrepreneurship ecosystem who were at the event in those days. Moreover, as part of the Startup Europe initiative, the project was displayed at the Startup Europe booth on the first floor, which attracted tens of visitors every hour. Being at the booth enabled closer relationships among the projects and facilitated the establishment of completely new connections with the public.
MY-WAY had also secured the possibility to organise a Networking session on Wednesday afternoon, in collaboration with two projects within the Startup Europe initiative: Digistart and ePlus Ecosystem. The session proved to be very appealing and fruitful, as our room was quickly packed with individuals from startups, universities and large companies, many of whom were willing to share their individual challenges and their personal experiences in confronting them.
Our moderator, David Trayford, shortly presented MY-WAY’s objectives, scope and preliminary results, and engaged participants with an arduous question: what is being done currently to support young people willing to launch a new business? What could be improved and what has proven to be successful so far?
Nick Slater, from Capital Enterprise, shared his personal experience as a startupper himself, and underlined the importance of making students excited and self-confident. Aneesh Zutshi, project coordinator of Digistart, explained how positive examples from successful entrepreneurs can inspire and motivate students.
Ayelet Sapir, representing the Bar Ilan University, added a striking view over the unnecessary fear of failure: oftentimes successful entrepreneurs have experienced failure at some point in their lives, but this has not discouraged them and has in fact helped their further growth.
On the students support centres side, Holly Knower, from NACUE, highlighted the importance of tailoring the message to segments of students and to develop mechanisms of skills building, so that the students will be job-ready as soon as they leave education. In explaining this point, Holly provided examples from NACUE, which strives to provide channels for students to find the most appropriate resources and opportunities.
Representing the ePlus ecosystem project, José Barros highlighted existing challenges for startups in accessing talents.
Last but not least, Krisztina Toth, coordinator of MY-WAY, commented on a participant’s question by stating that mentorship, as integral part of university programmes, should improve via a bigger role of student support centres. Reshaping the educational offer is a long and complicated process, but student networks can play a supporting role in this.
The cheerful atmosphere created by David helped the audience react by sharing their personal experiences in channelling young prospective entrepreneurs to their companies and institutions. The networking session was successful in facilitating the establishment of new business connections for future collaboration, and overall the whole event was extremely well organised and fruitful. For more pictures and info on our networking session, check MY-WAY’s Facebook page, Twitter account (@My_WayProject) and continue to follow the project’s activities through the hashtag #Yentrepreneur. You may also get in touch with the project for future collaboration opportunities and events: show your interest by replying to the call for expression of interest on MY-WAY’s webpage.