05 Dec EU4EU – Project Ahead from Italy: Interview
Project Ahead from Italy
1 – What does your company do?
Project Ahead is a social enterprise cooperative that offers consulting and innovation training services in the historic centre of Naples in Italy. We work at Dialogue coworking space, an incubator of multicultural social enterprises that hosts entrepreneurs, freelancers, start-ups and innovators who are interested in social innovation and believe it is a strong factor of change and cultural, social and economic regeneration of the territory.
Project Ahead offers the following services:
- Project design consultancy – activation of networks and planning tables between national and international partners and identification of financing programmes;
- Business creation support for potential entrepreneurs: assistance from the creation of the idea to the launch of the product;
- Training courses, workshops and focus groups: teaching on social enterprise and Social Innovation, transformation of civil society organisations in social enterprises, integration paths of migrants and disadvantaged social categories through self-entrepreneurship, transfer of know-how to the entrepreneurial management of regenerated urban spaces;
- Erasmus for young entrepreneurs: Project Ahead is an intermediary organisation of this programme, which promotes a period of stay from 1 to 6 months, co-financed by the European Commission, for aspiring entrepreneurs in companies already established in Europe. Thanks to this experience, participants acquire the necessary skills to start and/or manage a small business in Europe.
2 – Why did you decide to join the EU4EU programme?
We decided to participate in the programme because the project team needs support in managing all the steps related to sending project proposals with a focus on European programmes.
In detail: the management of the partners, the gathering of administrative, formal and narrative documents useful for the submission of a proposal, the support in the writing and compilation of the templates (word and platform).
At the same time, we thought that this type of experience and skills can be useful in contributing to the professional future of university students from other places in Europe. Therefore the EU4EU programme seemed perfect to us.
3 – Was it easy to join the programme?
Absolutely. Joining the programme was very easy and intuitive. Thanks to the Host guide it is easy to register, update the profile, the traineeship offers and the matching phase.
4 – How important do you think it is for a company to work internationally?
Working internationally is really important for Project Ahead since all the core activities of the company are focused on the enhancement of social innovation processes that need cooperation, sharing of better practices and confrontation. This helps our activities to have an effective impact, especially to face nowadays “global challenges”.
Working together with people from other countries and realities means enriching actions implemented within different professional and cultural backgrounds, point of views and expertise. In addition, it helps finding new creative solutions against climate change and risk of economic and educational poverty.
5 – What are the advantages of working with a foreign student in your team?
The various advantages are:
- Improve intercultural and intergenerational relation skills;
- Improve training skills by experimenting and verifying new methodologies of approach on the job;
- In some cases, discover new theoretical views you can apply on strategies and processes.
6 – Based on your experience, how fast the students learn what they have to do?
Working on the presentation of a European project proposal is not very easy at the beginning, especially if it is the first time the student has to deal with a European platform, the reading of a specific call, the fillings of the narrative and budget templates and so on. Therefore, in the event that the trainee is hired to collaborate in this area, he/she must be aware that they cannot learn everything immediately. However, certainly the 4 month-internship will give the trainee the basics for becoming a project assistant and junior officer, even in other work contexts. It is clear that if the trainee likes the project experience, they will have to take other steps in order to acquire an increasingly consolidated experience.
7 – How well trainees manage to adapt to the working environment?
The trainees easily adapt to the working environment of Project Ahead as the team is made of young employees who also have had similar traineeship experiences during their university period. Therefore, the Project Ahead team gets involved with empathy to better integrate the welcomed students of the EU4EU programme, who also receive guidance to better interact with people outside the working hours.
8 – Will you participate in the EU4EU programme in the future?
We certainly intend to participate in the EU4EU programme in the future as well. We are evaluating the possibility of including a new training offer for trainees not only interested in the European projects field, but also in the management of the co-working space that we manage – https://www.dialogueplace.eu/ – where we welcome a lot of international users.
For the trainee to be involved in the project team, we plan to include knowledge of a basic level of Italian as a requirement, so that he/she can support national and local funding programmes and acquire additional language skills.
9 – Would you suggest another company to join the EU4EU programme? Why?
Yes, we recommend it because it is a beautiful experience of mutual training and professional growth (local team and trainee) that promotes the process of internationalisation of the local team and of the daily work activities. On the other hand, it gives the trainee a short-term quality experience abroad.