The European Young Innovators Festival in Graz / May 2022
The European Young Innovators Festival in Graz was held to present the best European digital social impact innovation and give the European Young Innovators 2021 and WSA Community a possibility to catch up in person and exchange thoughts and experiences with the WSA global network.
Facing major crisis in our world when it comes to climate change, distrust in democratic systems, youth unemployment and data privacy, the festival was a place to meet, to talk, share ideas, learn from each other and - most important - understand different perspectives.
11 out of 15 winners came to Graz and met at the Welcome Reception at Hotel Weitzer, where most of them and the network stayed.
The next day starts with a Mentoring Breakfast, a 1:1 mentoring session for each winning team with an experienced mentor from the WSA community. Directly after they presented their ventures in Inspirational Shot Talks right before the Round Tables, splitted into the 2 event locations Lendhafen and UniCorn.
“Now we are on the tipping point, the moment of change, where we need young European innovators who can actually lead, with a strong flag, the changes that innovation is actually asking for.”
“There is No Planet B. Green Tech for Climate” is an interactive conversation in the style of a fishbowl discussion. In partnership with Green Tech Cluster the probably most important topic concerning the future of the planet dives deep into funding and organizing, failure culture and using potential. The discussion led by Prof. Dr. Peter A. Bruck brings together players from research, business, and government as well as social entrepreneurs, young savages, and a lot of good spirit. Christine Röhrer from the EIT Climate-KIC joined the talk as well as Thomas Strohmeier, Jan Pannenbäker, Matthias Di Felice, Gorjan Jovanovski, Moses Acquah, Mathias Haas, Ana Brigovic and Jonas Herzing. Audience was welcomed to join the discussion to share their viewpoint on the topic.
“To speed up rescue of the climate you have to get into the process and fix it from the inside.”
At the same time at UniCorn the discussion “Ethical Entrepreneurship connecting people, ecology and economics” sets a great stage to share perspectives and insights, introduce one’s own work and impact investments. The participants were Uli Grabenwarter, Ana Alvarez Monge, Clara Tripodi, Connor Sattely and Abdulrahman Alashraf. The discussion focused on trends, challenges and the importance for ethical entrepreneurship, well led by Nelly Cornejo.
The first bonds for networking, exchange and mutual advice were immediately forged at the subsequent networking brunch before the afternoon was filled with workshops.
Connor Sattely gave an insight into “Impact Measurement for Entrepreneurs”, speaking from his own experience and being an engaged consultant. Ana Alvarez Monge opened a Roundtable to share experiences for fundraising and entrepreneurial success stories. Mathias Haas used the speed-dating format for a fundraising workshop and Moses Acquah and Ana Brigovic moderated the interactive discussion “Innovation and Ecosystems 4 Impact”, asking participants about their own ecosystems and experiences.
“Social franchise means not competing against each other but working together for making an impact.”
To see more of the wonderful city of Graz, a guided city tour for everyone was offered – and was enjoyed a lot. It ended with the world’s tallest underground slide from Schlossberg.
At the end of a successful, full day, two events were offered: on the one hand, a get-together on the atmospherically unique Murinsel, where international and local partners came together, long-time WSA companions and newcomers. On the other hand, the young winners had the opportunity to get to know each other and Graz entrepreneurs on a pizza date.
Again, the day starts with the Mentoring Breakfasts, a low-threshold offer for the exchange of knowledge between experienced mentors and young entrepreneurs.
“WSA focuses on you as an entrepreneur, goes just beyond the start-up, and about staying with you throughout your career.”
Splitting up into the two venues, six different workshops are available: “Creating Impact” by Stefanie Beßler, “Design Sprint” by Rudolf Greger in partnership with CIS, “Think outside your box” by Adam Montandon, “Sustainability & Innovation” by Gernot Schröck in partnership with NEXT Incubator, “Storytelling for Social Entrepreneurs” by Mathias Haas and “Blockchain, Crypto & Web 3 for Social Impact” by Carolina Rossi.
After the networking lunch at the UniCorn two more roundtables on very current topics took place: “Modern Aging and Demographic Change” moderated by Bernhard Weber, with Maria Fellner, Eva-Maria Trinkaus, Kerstin Löffler, Lorenz Inou Tchatchoua and Benjamin Naurath tackled the many different facets demographic change brings, newly interpreted after two years of pandemic.
“Make an impact in the world by enabling others to do what they can do best!”
“Ethics & Data | Data for Good” raised a lot of questions concerning the possibilities of technology and the red lines of our privacy. The ethics of any product have to be thought about beforehand, data – and the human behind this data – has to be valued and treated with respect. The roundtable was held in partnership with DIO, SFG and moderated by Nina Popanton, with Maria Eichlseder, Sarah Stryeck, Harald Friedl, Hristina Veljanova, Carolina Rossi and Robert Ginthör.
The day, the festival, the coming together ends in the highlight of the Award Ceremony at Kunsthaus Graz. Besides vibrant exchanges, shared laughter, posing for photos, all winning teams are awarded in the official ceremony. Video messages and words of thanks to partners in Graz, Styria and all of Austria find their place as well as beatbox interludes by the great Ivory Parker. Julia Schadinger and Adam Montandon moderated the evening in an enjoyable and entertaining way.
Conversations, laughter, dancing, exchange - the European Young Innovators Festival in Graz was a wonderful start for events in real space, for a reunion of WSA European and global community and for the reception of young entrepreneurs.