UNICEF launches Youth Innovation Lab in Montenegro
PODGORICA, 6 April 2016 - UNICEF today launched the Youth innovation lab in Montenegro, the sixth of its kind in the world. The aim of the lab is to recognize and support young people who face challenges in the local community and want to solve them through the innovative ideas with the use of existing technologies.
UNICEF representative in Montenegro, Benjamin Perks, said that the Youth innovation lab, called Kreaktivator, will provide space and opportunity for young people, particularly the most marginalized, to practice innovation and creativity and to collaborate on solving social and economic challenges and building entrepreneurial opportunities.
Perks recalled that there are approximately 85.000 adolescents in Montenegro who are disproportionately affected by the economic crisis. Youth unemployment rate stood at a high 38 per cent in 2015.
"There is sometimes a tendency to slip into a sense of hopelessness and apathy, but Kreaktivator will seek to showcase how young people can be an asset for their society and contribute to building a better future through collaborative endeavors,“ Perks said.
The UNICEF innovation lab represents a collaborative incubation accelerator that connects young people with government institutions, universities, private sector, NGO’s and civil society to create sustainable solutions to the most pressing challenges facing youth.
The Minister of Education, Predrag Boskovic, said that it is of the outmost importance to enable young people’s energy to be directed in the right way.
"For a long time, we are trying to enable young people to express their creativity in clasrooms, laboratories, and schools in a different way that is presented here today. The most important thing is to direct in the right way the energy that these young people possess, and not to allow it to be misused by anyone. On the contrary, that energy needs to create something that could benefit the whole society. Enabling young people to express what they hold within themselves in the right way is the greatest wealth of both the Ministry of Education and the State of Montenegro.“
The lab model creates opportunities for young people, who have a unique insight into the challenges that affect their communities, to team up with local leaders to develop creative and sustainable solutions.
Nikola Vulic, coordinatior of the Youth innovation lab, Kreaktivator, believes that Innovation, by definition, occurs when the environment is appropriate for the creation of innovation.
“That is exactly our main goal, to create an environment in which mainly young people have the opportunity to show what they know, and what they can, and we are confident they can do a lot,” Vulic added.
Through the workshop called UPSHIFT, facilitated by UNICEF Innovation Lab in Montenegro, young people from across the country will be invited to take part in a unique platform which brought them together - by enabling them to build and lead a solution to a social challenge in their community, and join a network of young innovators.
Jovana Biga, administrative manager of Kreaktivator, explained that the first initiative of the lab is “UpShift“, a three-day workshop.
"Young people sign up for the workshop with a problem they face. We are not asking from them to provide solution, but only the problem that exists in their community. During the three-day workshop, with the help of our mentors, they will go through the whole process - from defining to solution of the problem. Out of ten teams that will attend the UPSHIFT workshop, we will choose five teams, while the most sustainable and most applicable solutions will receive each 2,000 euros. With the Kreaktivator mentorship, these funds will be used in the next three months to implement these solutions in the society,“ she said.
The innovation lab Kreaktivator was launched by UNICEF and implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Directorate of Youth and Sports and NGO Digitalizuj.me, with financial support by ING.Kreaktivator is part of a broader United Nations programme for youth empowerment called "Kreaktivacija“, with the aim to create environment that will empower and motivate young people to use existing and create new opportunities for both personal, and growth and development of the entire society.