We are very proud that Accelerating Albania-the iclub project got the OPEN2017 Award Best in Category for supporting early stage innovators in Washington DC March 24th 2017
Entrepreneurship in Albania is still in its first steps. The 2017 Global Entrepreneurship index ranks Albania 80th out of 137 countries, and third from the bottom of the list of European countries. Opportunity perception, opportunity startup, process innovation, and product innovation are particularly underdeveloped (GEDI 2017). With a young, well-educated population, well connected through internet, with good access to knowledge and innovation elsewhere, Albania has great potential to develop a new type of entrepreneurial model, a person with the vision to see an innovation and the ability to bring it to market.
The iclub project set out to help develop young innovators, through the creation of innovation clubs (iclubs) in 114 secondary schools, as extracurricular activity.
To develop students as creative problem solvers, able to use their imagination, creativity, empathy and technology to solve problems that they spot in their school and the community where they live.
To create a sustainable framework (iclubs) as extracurricular activity to support the use of technology, innovation and creativity through experiential project-based collaborations.
To empower teachers as creative leaders to guarantee long term success
200 teachers were trained in Design Thinking Train the Trainer.
114 schools – one third of all the schools in the country - created iclubs and developed projects.
800 teachers participated in the year-round activities
5000 students got the iclub buzz
13 schools were selected as finalists to participate in a four day Techcamp
9 weeks live on National TV
10.000 TV votes
500.000 TV viewers – one sixth of the nation
The biggest impact this extracurricular activity had was in creating a belief in students and teachers that they can solve things. This is a real achievement in light of prevailing culture in Albania which tends to be passive, expecting things to be solved by the authorities. iclub gave them the process and tools to go out, observe, talk with people, discover things they did not know, spot problems and think about solutions. 100 initiatives with social impact were created.
A stronger connection was developed between the students and the community where they live. This led to a deeper understanding of their local needs, and produced solutions with direct impact such as: creating a digital map with all the attractions of their rural region full of hidden gems, creating an e-commerce platform to sell the much sought-after berries of their remote mountain district, creating 3D displays for their local museum to attract more visitors, and many more.
The initiative helped teachers and students use the extracurricular activities to develop skills such as use of ICT, critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving, communication, project based working, persistence and collaboration.
All the 13 finalist iclubs received support from local businesses/ universities/ financial institutions to bring their initiative to life.
Successful collaboration developed among a complex group of stakeholders, involving the Ministry of Education, local educational directorates at municipality level, schools leadership, teachers, students, media, community, businesses and the funders, British Council and Vodafone Foundation.
Scale the iclub model in all the 320 secondary schools of Albania by involving the existing iclubs as trainers and mentors.
Create a nationwide network of iclubs where young innovators can create connections and collaborations beyond their school in solving real life challenges.
Create a collaborative network of Teacher Innovators for sharing practices and knowledge in using technology and design thinking in education.
Influence policy to include ICT skills and design thinking in the curriculum.