07. March 2014

On Saturday March 1st, in Ronda, south of Spain, more than 150 participants took part in the Ronda Forum on Education and Entrepreneurship. The event was opened by a Europe@debate between Lieve Fransen, Director for Social Policies and Europe 2020 at the European Commission and young Europeans from FutureLab Europe.

“Connecting entrepreneurship stakeholders with young leaders”

Europe’s South is facing a critical situation with growing unemployment rates and cramped business credits. Combined with a lack of innovation, a gap between education and the labour market, and an economy dependent on public subsidies, it is more than believable that a true entrepreneurial culture is largely absent. However education, technology, incubators, public policies, finances and culture can encourage the creation of start-ups.

The reality of entrepreneurship is as cultural as it is economic: it can be present, to a greater or lesser extent, in the collective mentality of a society. This may be the case of Ronda, a town representative of Europe’s South, which can be traced on a frontline that runs from the Algarve, all the way to Thessaloniki. Creating a platform for discussions between entrepreneur stakeholders and young leaders in and beyond the region, the forum opens two salient questions: Can an entrepreneurship culture be “created”? How can this be accomplished, and who is to carry out this mission?

In her key note speech, Ms Fransen highlighted (some alarming) figures that clarified the current state of youth unemployment and entrepreneurship throughout Europe and compared EU countries to other regions in the world. While acknowledging that Spain wasn’t actually doing so bad in this regard, she also underlined that the EU is falling behind in a global perspective. Having said this, Fransen pointed out some key challenges, such as tackling the mismatch between education and required skills on the current labour market, safeguarding the social welfare state and seeking the right opportunities for growth and development for different member states.

FutureLab participants Estefania Almenta Lopez, Marsida Bandilli and Daniel Gjokjeski took the opportunity of this Europe@debate to challenge Ms Fransen, as representative of the European Commission, on EU policies in relation to youth unemployment, education and entrepreneurship. Among others, FutureLab participants discussed with her the implementation of the existing policies – such as the EU investment package and the Youth Guarantee, mobility measures between member states and synergies between the social, public and private sector.

Later on, the Forum brought to the stage young entrepreneurs and policy, education and finance experts to discuss with young participants how these synergies can be encouraged most effectively, at the local, the national and the European level. One thing became clear; education needs to adapt its curriculum to current needs and the reality of the labour market. While especially in southern regions people are not trained or encouraged to start their own businesses, this does not appear on people’s radar either. Best practices of well functioning incubators at universities, which provide not only advise on financing and patent issues, but also help developing a business and marketing plan, should be spread more widely throughout Europe.

 FutureLab Europe was represented at the forum by: Estefanía Almenta López (Spain), Milan Balaban (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Marsida Bandili (Albania), Mael Baseilhac (France), Lukas Fucela (Slovakia),Melissa García Caballero (Spain), Daniel Gjokjeski (Macedonia),Germán Jiménez Montes (Spain), Stephan Kool (Netherlands),Marta Remacha (Spain), Sadik Tabar (Turkey), Kati Temonen(Finland), Laura Virué Escalera (Spain) and Irma Zulic (Bosnia and Herzegovina).

The event is organized by the Real Maestranza de Caballería de Ronda (RMR) and FutureLab Europe. It is coordinated by Andréa Chabant Sánchez, Coordinator-General of the forum within the RMR and FutureLab Europe member.

For more information:www.rondaforum.com