Project objectives
A consortium of universities and NGO partners from Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands and Romania develop, implement and test a new approach to promote creativity, entrepreneurial thinking and skills for designing innovation in close cooperation with the communities in which the universities are embedded. This will be achieved by two core activities:
• The Community Innovation Labs will provide a transdisciplinary framework for students, teachers and the community to collaborate on issues that really matter locally. The labs will allow for a multi-faceted understanding of what the local challenges are and thus provide students with a realistic analysis of the change potential. Social entrepreneurship is the guiding principle here, aiming at merging social, environmental and economic sustainability.

• The project expands an existing online course on Social Entrepreneurship with a new component focusing on the start-up phase. This will happen in synergy with the community innovation labs as starting points for co-creation and co-founding. Involving the community as equal partners in both our online and face-to-face learning activities will contribute to breaking up the ivory tower of academia.

Target groups
The project is addressed to an interdisciplinary target group of educators, students and young professionals in the fields of economics, business administration, geography, agriculture, regional development, urban/landscape planning. Next to the academic audience the project actively involves local community members and stakeholder in its partners’ community innovation labs.

Project activities
• Linking the partner universities in Bucharest, Nürtingen, Arnhem and Tartu to local communities by setting up Community Innovation Labs.
• Implementation of blended learning activities on the subject of social innovation in combination with local workshops organised alternately by three of the consortium partners.
• Development and publication of online course materials and an online course concept titled ‘From Idea Generation to Start-Up’ (Output 1)
• The Social Entrepreneurship Community Learning Model (Output 2). This output will document the partnerships’ learning experience from the Community Innovation Labs in order to share relevant knowledge about how universities can partner and collaborate fruitfully with their community environment to co-create and co-initiate social businesses.

Main focus: Circular economy – Waste management

Very brief description of the local situation in the community
October 2018 – setting the framework of BCIL

Issues affecting Bucharest in 2019:
• Lack of an action-driven waste management system for individual consumer
• Only a few companies using circular economy in their business model
• Lack of education for adults on waste management (at home, at work)
March 2020:
• More awareness among individual consumers (including students)
• Joint efforts between universities-companies-social enterprises (SEs) –NGOs to address underlined issues
• Working groups (at ASE) on social challenges proposed by SEs

Main activities of the BCIL 2020:
– Jan.-Feb. 2020: Stakeholder virtual discussion about new social challenges which make the purpose of the students‘ problem-based projects
– Feb.-June 2020: Stakeholder continuos interaction and feedback on the students‘ projects
– Feb.-May 2020: Working groups on: a strategy for Bine Boutique online shop; A research to prioritize the benefits of Bine Boutique customers in the “physical” store; identify suppliers of consumer products (food, hygiene products, housing appliances) which could be potential donors of products for the 3 Somaro locations: Bucharest, Ploiesti, Sibiu; a campaign (to be implemented with limited resources) to inform communities in the vicinity of Somaro stores in Bucharest, Sibiu, Ploiesti about the existence of the Somaro social store and about their benefits
– Monthly (virtual or face-to-face) meetings of BCIL members to share feedback and decide next steps by purchasing products from this store

Main stakeholders of the BCIL
– Core actors: social enterprises, faculty and staff members (with expertise or interested in the field)
– Influence actors: students, volunteers, public administration (city halls, municipal local council), other SEs, NGOs, private companies, corporations (including supermarkets)
– Impact actors: university leaders, individual consumers in the local community, local municipality, suppliers of materials (food, hygiene products, textile, etc.), mass media

Main achievements
– Short/ medium term colaboration/ partnerships between university and social enterprises to address SEs challenges
– Social enterprise solutions documented as a business plan
– Problem-based learning material and tools about current SEs reality in Bucharest on waste management
– Course material updates, cases and exercises
– Examples of best practice: public-privat

Lessons learned:
– Ensure a good balance between planned inputs (time, expertise, research efforts, etc.) and expected mutual benefits (designing and documentation of the sollution, problem-based learning tools, further support, consultancy during implementation, etc.)
– Time is limited and is equally precious for each party involved
– Circumstances (which determine collaboration) might change; flexibility and adaptation to the new situation are expected

Project website: www.localchange.eu

For more details about BCIL, please contact: Prof. Dr. Carmen Păunescu, Bucharest University of Economic Studies, E-mail: carmen.paunescu@ase.ro