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Our colleagues Caterina Tognoni and Gerlinde Schmidt had the pleasure of attending the second transnational project meeting of the European Social Innovation Campus (ESIC) in Brussels, Belgium. The meeting was a vibrant blend of presentations, discussions, and collaborative sessions that provided deep insights into the social economy ecosystems across Europe. Here’s a rundown of the key highlights and takeaways from this enriching experience.

The first day kicked off with an insightful presentation from the head of the Centre for Sustainable Entrepreneurship (CenSe) at the Odisee University of Applied Sciences. The presentation focused on identifying gaps in practice and addressing them through applied academic research. CenSe captures the needs of businesses directly, emphasising sustainable entrepreneurship, socio-economic sustainability, circular economy, digitalisation, and competencies of the future. These areas are essential for fostering the twin transition towards a sustainable and digital economy.

Both CenSe and ESIC share a common mission: advancing research, lifelong learning, and providing services to society while enhancing competencies for social innovation. This alignment underscores the importance of research and practical application in driving social innovation.

The meeting proceeded with a check-in on the progress of ESIC research activities, which involves mapping skills and educational needs in the social economy sector in Europe. During this session, partners discussed the gaps identified in the research so far and outlined the next steps for other activities. Qualitative data collection is currently ongoing, with each partner conducting interviews with relevant stakeholders.

In parallel to the in-depth conversations on the skills strategy and curriculum development by ESIC partners, Euclid Network hosted an interactive workshop with the project communication experts. This workshop focused on defining user personas and the customer journey, laying the groundwork for the upcoming ESIC digital platform.

The second day began with a presentation from Tinneke Timmermans, head of Odisee’s Research and International Office, followed by discussions on designing the framework for testing the methods and content of training programs and work-based learning. 

Partners shared their insights on train-the-trainer techniques tailored to meet each partner’s local requirements. They discussed innovative tools to facilitate a mixed learning approach, combining face-to-face and online interactions. Additionally, the upcoming EMES PHD Summer School in Trento this summer was highlighted, along with much more.

The second transnational meeting of the ESIC project concluded with an innovative workshop facilitated by the project’s evaluator on the future and sustainability of ESIC in the long term. Participants also visited key sites in the Belgian local social economy ecosystem, including the headquarters of Social Economy Europe and the Sociale Innovatie Fabriek.

As we move forward, the collaboration and insights gained from this meeting will be instrumental in driving the ESIC project’s mission to train, connect, and stimulate social innovators across Europe.

Check out ESIC’s website here for more updates and progress as we continue to advance social and sustainable innovation through the ESIC project.

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