European Innovation & Creativity Camp


This was one of the flagship projects of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009, organised by the European Commission and Junior Achievement-Young Enterprise (JA-YE) Europe.

The young people were divided into mixed-nationality teams, and had just 24 hours to suggest solutions to a problem that has been challenging European governments for decades – how best to engage students and make education more relevant for the future.  They quickly had to learn how to work together, as they brainstormed solutions and developed their ideas into business plans. 

The winning team developed the concept of ‘FaceSchool’ and ‘YouSchool’ to engage students in education via social networking sites.  The group, made up of students from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, UK and Norway presented their solution in front of an audience of business people, media and Commission staff saying that their objective was to “get kids addicted to school”. They were congratulated on the creativity and feasibility of their idea which the judges thought would really motivate students and keep them engaged in education.

A team of European Commission staff and business employees was on hand to act as expert volunteer advisers for the students. They took the time to share their insight and experience to guide the students as they made key decisions about how to solve the challenge and encouraged them to be creative in their thinking.

The event was hosted by Maroš Šefčovič, Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth in the Berlaymont Press Room, European Commission.  Commissioner Šefčovič worked with the other 8 judges to choose the most innovative solution and award the winners. Commissioner Šefčovič, said: "This is the European Year of Creativity and Innovation, so in judging the young, international teams for this marathon competition, we were especially keen to see innovative and creative solutions." He continued: "More attention needs to be paid to developing critical thinking and innovation at all levels of  the education system, and programmes like this European Innovation and Creativity Camp are a great way to get students engaged in creative thinking and reasoning.”

Tiina Karppinen, a student from Finland explained what she learnt at this special event; “It has been such a great challenge to work with new people from all sorts of different countries; we had to learn about each other's education systems and then decide what solution we were going to develop.  I learnt a lot about teamwork and how to communicate my ideas clearly.”

The purpose of the special European Innovation & Creativity Camp was to help young people develop the skills they’ll need to be successful employees or entrepreneurs in the future.  “We are pleased to see that European Commission put innovation and creativity in the spotlight by choosing it as the theme for the year,” said Caroline Jenner, the CEO for JA-YE Europe. . “We believe innovation and creativity is fostered when we:

  1. Expose young people to diversity, role models and the world outside the classroom.  
  2. Ask students to work on solving real-life challenges. The more we involve young people in addressing real problems in a positive way, the more motivated they will be to find innovative solutions.
  3. Provide learning-by-doing education for young people.”

The European Innovation and Creativity Camp is one of the main projects of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009, among a wide range of other activities including debates, competitions and conferences. The aim of the Year is to promote creative and innovative approaches in different sectors of human activity and contribute to better equip the European Union for the challenges ahead in a globalised world.

The European Innovation & Creativity Camp
Junior Achievement-Young Enterprise Europe (JA-YE Europe), in cooperation with the European Commission, DG Education and Culture, organised the European Innovation and Creativity Camp.  The event took place in Brussels on November 24 and 25, 2009, just prior to the Education, Youth and Culture Council.

100 students aged 15-18 from across Europe worked together to present innovative solutions to a complex challenge. During the 24-h camp students worked in multinational teams learning how to generate and shape ideas within a short deadline. They were given access to tools, adult experts and resources.

After the Innovation and Creativity Camp the students have a deeper understanding of the value of team working, problem-solving, and critical thinking. The experience duplicates the situations these young people will face upon entering the workforce—having to quickly gather information, accurately read personalities and come up with innovative solutions in high-pressure environments.