E. Wascher1, G. Rissola2

1Technical University Dortmund (GERMANY)
2Telecentre Europe Aisbl (BELGIUM)
The project "I-LINC" aims at developing a platform for ICT (for) learning and inclusion with regard to enhancing youth employability and entrepreneurship by creating a common blended stakeholder platform and engaging in it a large number of stakeholders in a dialogue and participatory awareness process. The research done within the project aims at identifying the variety of actors and initiatives in the field of I-LINC (ICT, Youth, Learning, Inclusion, Employability and Entrepreneurship). In detail, we analyse actor constellations within networks and are particularly interested in cross-sector collaborations (e.g. cooperation between civil society, formal education and industry actors).

In order to map and analyse existing actors and activities in the field of I-LINC the project uses a two-step approach. For the first mapping, a partner survey and desk research had been conducted in February/March 2015. We collected 126 cases of actors and initiatives. The sample of I-LINC-stakeholders gathered at this stage of the research is not representative and statistically significant. Therefore, the research done in mapping 1 only provides an overview of the unit of analysis and our findings must be understood as illustrative and preliminary. In a second step, we will use an online survey for a European Mapping of I-LINC-stakeholders which will be conducted in the second half of 2015. We apply social innovation as an analytical framework in the I-LINC-project in order to guide our research and development activities. Starting from the social innovation pentagon model that was developed in EU-project SI-Drive (Howaldt et al. 2014) we focus mainly on the field of actors, governance and networks. This includes a typology of actors and the identification of drivers and barriers as well as aspects of innovation. Concerning actor constellations we use the quadruple helix innovation model (Carayannis/Campbell 2012).

The existing platforms are covering large numbers of users and can be regarded as rich in reach and impact. Our analysis is based on the assumption that a stakeholder platform is stronger in impact and more likely to diffuse innovations the more helix dimensions are involved. But our analysis shows that the existing platforms are not broadly linked to other helix actors. While we found a rich network between actors of the same sector, only one third of the existing platforms imply actors of another sector of the quadruple helix. The strongest inter-sector cooperation can be traced between industry and civil society platforms while platforms linking state and civil society actors are rare within our sample. Less than 10% of the platforms include actors from three sectors and only two quadruple helix collaborations can be identified.

While this is the status on the ground of socio-digital innovation for increasing the employability of youngsters (including entrepreneurship) with a view to palliate a major socio-economic issue and political concern , a European Commission top-down policy approach advocates for diffusing innovation across the European Union through smart specialisation strategies structured over regional triple or quadruple helix models. Despite the difference on aims, a deeper qualitative analysis of the two triple helix cases identified will help to understand the kind of innovation grassroots organisations can put in place, as well as the challenges preventing to see richer inter-sectoral cooperation.