What is the concept of the ecosystem of innovation? What is the role of youth workers in the future, related to their ecosystem? And how can people from the youth work community of practice think together, test new solutions and generate changes? These were the questions we were talking about in our last #EAYW Webinar “Ecosystems for Innovation” on April 21, 2022.


As usual, our Webinar was kicked-off with some body and mind practice, which was led by embodiment trainer Sandra Gojić. Through a series of small activities, we became more prepared and focused for the forthcoming discussions on ecosystems for innovation. 


In the beginning of our Webinar, our facilitators Anita Silva and Darko Marković asked participants in a short warm-up activity to describe their youth work ecosystem in one word. Answers were different, but some of the most mentioned words included: friendly, hopeful, supporting, challenging and hardworking. 


After the warm-up exercise, two EAYW researchers, Dragan Atanasov and Michelangelo Belletti shared the concept of the youth work Innovation Ecosystem, which was presented in the Study on Innovation in Youth Work, published at the beginning of this year. “Innovation in youth work happens in an environment that consists of various stakeholders, relations between them, and conditions created by their actions and interactions, and they all together create an innovation ecosystem”, Atanasov and Belletti emphasized. Also, they mentioned that actions and relations between stakeholders in the ecosystem can create a climate that can be more or less favourable to the development of innovation. The chances for more successful and sustainable innovations are higher when the overall climate is favourable for innovation, and there are enough supporting conditions and triggers, Atanasov and Beletti concluded. 


In the next part, the participants engaged in an interactive exercise on what role can we play when we build innovation processes, which involved several steps. The steps are the following: 

  • Step 1: Identifying key players for innovation: we asked participants to think who are the key players in their youth work ecosystem and who would they invite for an innovation process. They should also think about their relative place and size and how different stakeholders relate to each other, and to map them. Participants named different key players, such as artists, experts, social media specialists, education community, volunteers, businesses, etc.
  • Step 2: Creating the environment that supports creativity and innovation: we asked participants what they can do to create this environment. Some of the answers included workshops on identifying needs and trends, participatory action research, creative thinking, brainstorming sessions, innovation jams, think tanks or ideation labs.
  • Step 3: Having an innovation thesis or strategy, where people can look at current challenges and trends, and define: where it is important to innovate, why, for whom, with whom and how it aligns with the goals of different players. 
  • Step 4: Having an innovation framework, which includes thinking about how decisions are made; how experimentation and testing is made and how investments are planned. 
  • Step 5: Building an innovation accounting system, which includes how are we tracking progress, how we check if the solution is aligned with our innovation thesis or how we cooperate in the future. 


Participants were invited to use these steps in planning innovation within their organisation and to go through these steps with their colleagues. If you would like to find out more about the steps in the innovation process, find the presentation at this link.


As in the last webinars, our graphic recorder, Mireille van Bremen, visualised the key insights from this webinar in a visual summary.

We finished this Webinar with a short evaluation and closed this last Webinar of our series with announcements on the next steps within the #EAYW. 


And are you interested to join us online in Kranjska Gora from May 31 to June 3 and continue discussing issues related to innovation in the youth work field? If yes – we have great news for you! Most of the sessions are offered in hybrid format. The programme is built as a coherent whole with a flow that takes participants through different aspects related to innovation. Nevertheless, it is also possible to participate only in some selected sessions online. More information and application form is available HERE

See you in Kranjska Gora!