Brussels, Belgium – October 11, 2023 – The European Week of Regions and Cities in Brussels witnessed a transformative participatory lab that delved deep into the significance of promoting entrepreneurial and social innovation skills for robust development that leaves no one behind. Co-hosted by SHINE 2Europe, Friends of Europe, Eurochambres, AFEdemy, i2CAT Foundations, and UNITEE, along with the EU-funded projects SIRENE, NET4Age-Friendly, and INTEGER, this event created a dynamic space for cross-border dialogue on the power of innovative skills.
Building Skills for Tomorrow’s Europe
In an evolving landscape, entrepreneurial skills are not just desirable; they are indispensable for the development of European regions and cities. The dynamic capacity to innovate, solve problems, and lead communities drives social innovation, fostering cohesion, inclusion, and employment. These skills are vital for preparing Europe for future transitions while ensuring a just social contract, inclusive communities, and enriched environments.
In the spirit of collaboration, innovators, researchers, and business practitioners from diverse backgrounds and countries gathered to share ideas and best practices in promoting entrepreneurial, digital, and social innovation skills. Together, they explored community-based solutions and multi-stakeholder alliances spanning cities, regions, and sectors.
A Vision for Inclusive Communities
Carina Dantas, CEO of SHINE 2EUROPE and coordinator of the SIRENE project, highlighted key insights from the participatory lab. She underscored the pressing need for stakeholders in cities, regions, countries, and beyond to collaborate and build inclusive communities. This goal aligns perfectly with the SHAFE approach – Smart Healthy Age-Friendly environments – manifested through the SHAFE Foundation, along with two influential lighthouse initiatives, the COST Action NET4Age-Friendly and SIRENE, funded under Horizon Europe.
SIRENE’s Mission for Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Communities
SIRENE’s core mission is to bolster social innovation ecosystems, delivering eco-friendly and sustainable community-based services for SHAFE implementation across Europe. The project’s aim is to enhance the well-being and housing conditions of the European population by empowering social and private entrepreneurs. SIRENE is a unifying force, connecting stakeholders across the EU and beyond. The Expert Hub, comprising 47 renowned experts, collaborates on creating a Social Innovation framework and supporting tools, fostering a platform for mutual collaboration.
SIRENE’s approach empowers local and regional ecosystems in Europe to design environments that encourage active and healthy living in an inclusive digital world. This inclusive approach brings together citizens, public authorities, industry, NGOs, and research entities for ongoing, joint collaboration.
In this landmark event, SIRENE continues to be at the forefront of driving innovation and forging partnerships that pave the way for a brighter, more inclusive future. Stay tuned for more updates as we work towards the creation of Smart Healthy Age-Friendly Environments.
Empowering Social Innovators
Willeke van Staalduinen, CEO of AFEdemy, a partner in the SIRENE project, shared the knowledge and skills of social innovators identified by the European Standard Classification of Occupations (ESCO). ESCO recognizes the occupation of social entrepreneurs, with knowledge encompassing aspects such as design thinking, impact investing, participatory decision-making, and social alliances. Skills are divided into networking and representation, business and finances, monitoring and evaluation.
Stay tuned for more updates on how SIRENE continues to shape the landscape of entrepreneurial and social innovation, fostering the development of inclusive, age-friendly communities for a prosperous European future.