Innova Foster project has already achieved change regarding the Regional Development Programme (RDP) of Podravje Region, which is the selected policy instrument of project partner SRC Bistra Ptuj. The analysis of start-up ecosystem in Podravje showed that the opportunities for improvement are overcoming the bad reputation of entrepreneurship, improving the business and innovation skills among young entrepreneurs and better cooperation network of support organisations. The action plan which targets these issues was developed. The actions in the action plan were selected considering the regional needs and transfer of good practices from other Innova Foster partners.

A new project in Podravje were inspired by activities of Innova Foster project. Municipality of Ptuj, which is one of the largest towns in Podravje region and therefore important actor of RDP decided to support promotion of innovative entrepreneurship among secondary school students named in Slovene “Podjetniški izziv za mlade” (Business Challenge for Youth) in 2019 and 2020 within the municipality budget (complied to competitive businesses for growth and jobs in RDP). It supported start-up business model generation and pitching contest for students with 15,000 € in 2019 and additional 15,000 € in 2020. It supported 9 start-up teams of students in 2019 and 8 start-up teams in 2020.

The Regional Development Programme (RDP) of Podravje Region is implemented by Regional Agreement or by budgets of municipalities in Podravje. The project Business Challenge for Youth is financed by the Municipality of Ptuj budget. RDP 2014-2020 is partly implemented through the budgets of municipalities in region Podravje, especially when the specific projects such as the Business Challenge for Youth are locally oriented. Innova Foster project activities and lessons learnt in this project contributed to decision of Ptuj municipality counsel, who approved the project.

From the start of the project Innova Foster Municipality of Ptuj was identified as one of the most important stakeholders of start-up ecosystem in Podravje and vice mayor Gorazd Orešek was invited to exchange of experience events of partners. This exchange of good practice, discussions on the best start-up ecosystems and practical experience with knowledge building of partners helped in convincing the vice mayor and consequently other decision and policy makers in Ptuj to support the project Business Challenge for Youth in 2019 and 2020. This project will also serve as a model to be implemented locally by other Municipalities.

Study visits, the analyses and peer to peer discussions on ecosystems in partner’s regions and thematic seminars, which were the project activities of Innova Foster in Phase I built up higher competences and improved the knowledge about the most important elements of an efficient start-up ecosystem. Especially lessons learnt in Tartu, which is very much involved in promotion of entrepreneurship with young students because this improves the entrepreneurial mind-set in the society and results in more numerous and innovative start-ups in the region were the incentive to launch the Ptuj’s project. Mr. Orešek helped us also in lobbying for the initiative as important improvement of Ptuj’s startup ecosystem in municipality council and through the municipality budget improves the RDP. We are also lobbying to involve more municipalities in Podravje in the initiative.

Vice mayor Gorazd Orešek was key stakeholder in achieving the policy change

The best 3 start-ups of Business Challenge for Youth and their mentors in 2019.

The final pitch of Business Challenge for Youth in 2019.

The Business Challenge for Youth in 2020 was performed on Zoom.