SocialErasmus and ESAA Entrepreneurship Incubator, Erasmus – pan-Europe

SocialErasmus and ESAA Entrepreneurship Incubator, Erasmus – pan-Europe

SocialErasmus– Belgium

Erasmus– pan-Europe, 2008 – present

‘Participants can give something back to the local community, and really leave their mark’ - Gizem Altun, International project coordinator.

ESAA Entrepreneurship Incubator – pan-Europe and global

Erasmus – pan-Europe and global, 2011 - present

‘Business is becoming more social and social ideas need to be more business-like to thrive.’ - Stephanie Raible, instructor of cultural entrepreneurship.

The SocialErasmus and ESAA Incubator projects help participants of Erasmus programmes to ‘leave their mark on local communities and achieve long lasting social change’. Through engaging in social projects, international partnerships are forged.

SocialErasmus encourages Erasmus exchange students to take part in projects in their host country and help address local issues. Promoting active citizenship and fostering change in society, exchange students are invited twice a year, through SocialErasmus Week, to join ESN volunteers. Popular activities include language courses, animal shelter and environmental protection. According to international SocialErasmus project coordinator Gizem Altun, the project demonstrates that ‘we are far more than just what is printed on our passports’.

The ESAA Incubator helps entrepreneurship, including social and cultural entrepreneurship, in Europe and beyond to flourish by teaming up Erasmus+ students and alumni from across Europe and further afield in innovative internationally-minded projects. The key benefit of the ESAA Incubator is that ‘it creates a connection among participants from all over the world and underlines the strength of Europe as a broad concept, advocating unity and cooperation’ said Stephanie Raible, an instructor of cultural entrepreneurship and an organiser of the ESAA Incubator since 2013. Successful projects to have emerged from the incubator include a wide range of professional networks, product lines, social movements, and service organisations.

In this way, both the ESAA Incubator and SocialErasmus are incubators not only for innovative social ideas to benefit communities but also for European values of unity and cooperation.

Democracy and Human Rights Education (DARE) - Germany

Democracy and Human Rights Education (DARE) - Germany

Erasmus +, Grundtvig, Vocational Education and Training (Leonardo da Vinci)  – 26 EU countries – 2003 – present

There has never been an EU programme that has been so open to promote democracy.’

Thrilling, exhausting and addictive’ - this is how Georg Pirker describes his 17 years at the helm of the DARE Network. It all started in 2003 as a Grundtvig project but today boasts 48 member organisations from 26 EU countries. DARE helps organisations involved in human rights and democratic citizenship education (EDC) to share experiences, create exchanges, and enhance the quality of their education programmes in democracy and active citizenship.

Examples include France’s ENGAGE, which focused on encouraging school children (aged 8-12) to think democratically in the classroom. Another in Portugal known as STEPS developed a media relations toolkit for educators working the field of democracy. EDC for All developed a game-based low-threshold educational entry programme for people facing difficulties to access citizenship and Human Rights Education.

Over 17 years, up to 30,000 trainers and other educators have been involved in DARE and the network looks set to continue well into the future. ‘After all, the debate on democracy and active citizenship is continually evolving and we need to be there to question societal developments, especially in today’s political climate, where the challenge in more and more countries is to connect  the EU work back to the ground of societal debates said Georg.  Subsequently DARE´s current project STEPS aims to develop a Survival Toolkit for EDC in Post-truth Societies.

Elfriede and Arno Eckhardt – 63 and 66 – Germany

Elfriede and Arno Eckhardt – 63 and 66 – Germany

Erasmus+ (Grundtvig 50+) – Lithuania, 2014

"Many elderly people – it doesn’t matter whether it’s in Germany or Lithuania – are increasingly lonely. That’s why it’s important to care for them and to give them thought-provoking ideas."

During their 3 weeks as senior Erasmus+ volunteers in Lithuania, Elfriede and Arno received a warm welcome. They shared ideas regarding organisations of older people in Lithuania, with the hopes of setting up senior citizen groups similar to those in Germany. Thanks to the Erasmus+ project ‘Grundtvig 50+: See for yourself - friends help friends’, they helped develop projects of the Lithuanian Samaritan Union.

For one elderly lady this was opportunity to meet new people.  “Sometimes you also need someone to talk to" says Elfriede.

Elfriede and Arno also planted seeds in volunteers’ gardens so once grown, the vegetables can be given to elderly people in need.

The couple left a lasting impression on their hosts and in return Lithuanians from the project travelled to Germany to visit them and their senior citizen groups. As Arno summarises: 'I think we brought a piece of our culture to Lithuania, we managed to get to know each other and to meet people who have a different culture. This leads to an understanding for one another and enables you to deal with each other in a problem-free way and accept people who live in another country as they are'.

Voluntarios Solidarios en el Municipio de Elche – Spain

Voluntarios Solidarios en el Municipio de Elche – Spain

European Voluntary Service (EVS) – Germany, Poland, Estonia, Italy, Cyprus, Turkey, Croatia, Slovenia, 2015-16

‘For all of us, from the volunteers who come here to our partners abroad, projects like this change lives.’

Young volunteers from across Europe participate every year in social projects organised by the Municipality of Elche. During 9 months the volunteers lead and participate in a range of projects that focus on youth, education, the environment and above all European citizenship. Volunteers who work in education would lead activities for children aged between 1 and 5 years, while environmental activities have included replanting schemes involving handicap people.  All volunteers come from different countries, this brings cultural richness to the Spanish town and provides volunteers, with experiences that they would not otherwise have, placing ‘cultural exchanges at the core of the programmes’.

After 9 months, volunteers return home with renewed self-confidence and a range of sharpened social skills which, according to technical support officer, Jose Manuel Garcia Sempere, is ‘the strongest proof that projects like this make a huge difference.’ Jose believes that being able to talk in front of a room full of people, learn Spanish and be able to live in a foreign country ‘is a huge deal for an 18-year-old who might not have had many opportunities to do so before.’ The project shows them that their lives are in fact ‘full of possibilities’.

The impact on the local community is also significant, and Jose says this demonstrates that ‘everything we do for our community affects us directly’. The project has also brought Europe closer to home; Spanish youngsters who might never have thought of travelling abroad before are often inspired through meeting other young Europeans.

Bringing Europe Closer – Spain

Bringing Europe Closer – Spain

Erasmus+ – Spain, 2016-17

'Erasmus+ is about creating awareness and citizenship. Here in Europe, it has been incredibly difficult to destroy the psychological walls that have existed between nations, but programmes such as this make it possible to talk about real European citizenship'.

A project bringing 16 Spanish and Greek youth workers together with European officials for an intensive training week has provided a template for teaching the benefits of European citizenship. Born out of an awareness that anti-European sentiment was growing among young people in these 2 countries, the Bringing Europe Closer project helps youth workers to develop new non-formal training activities, understand the role of agencies and institutions better, and fully explore the benefits of European citizenship. A visit from a European Central Bank official for example was an exercise in empathy; the official could place himself in the shoes of a Greek youth worker, and vice versa,’ said General Coordinator, Dr Pablo Biderbost. His partner and Project Coordinator, Alonso Escamilla added: ‘We hope that young people can increase their European citizenship, their active citizenship and the solidarity in their country and other countries of the EU, and that this project can help them to rediscover the EU and to keep working to build a more inclusive Europe.’

Participants from secondary schools, universities, NGOs and churches have since gone back to their places of work to pass on what they have learnt, with the intention of ‘helping to generate European awareness among a new generation of Europeans’. Pablo estimates that over 500 youngsters have already benefited from the new techniques and knowledge developed within the project. He added that while criticism is ‘an indicator of a healthy democracy’, there is still a strong need to ‘show that European citizenship and European projects like Erasmus+ change lives’.

Big Hands Help Little Hands – Austria

Big Hands Help Little Hands – Austria

European Voluntary Service (EVS) project, 2015-16

‘Volunteers go back with open eyes and can deal with new situations better; if things go wrong they have the capacity to adapt.’

The ‘Big Hands Help Little Hands’ project invited 5 young, foreign volunteers from socially disadvantaged backgrounds to spend 9 months working in kindergartens in Vienna. The experience brought joy to little kids ‘who don’t care if you speak German or not’, and also to the kindergarten staff 'There is no doubt that long term volunteers who spend nine months with us, from the beginning of the kindergarten year, have a major influence on the teaching team' explains Birgit Fetty (on behalf of project coordinator Daniela Fellinger). It also transformed the learning atmosphere, described as ‘totally different when you include people from other countries.’ To further break down barriers and sweep away stereotypes, volunteers and parents got to know each other when invited to family dinners.

Above all, the project transformed the volunteers, who learned how to live independently in a new country and achieve self-confidence though finding strengths and abilities that they perhaps did not realise they had. It successfully demonstrated exactly why new, challenging experiences that ‘take you out of your routine or family structure’ can be positive, and that while sending young volunteers from disadvantaged backgrounds abroad might be a challenge, ‘the potential impact is so much bigger’. Ultimately, the success of this project, coordinated by Grenzenlos, underlines why EVS is an experience from which everyone can benefit

Patrycjusz Ceran – 40 – Poland

Patrycjusz Ceran – 40 – Poland

Vocational Education and Training (Leonardo da Vinci) – Germany and Austria, 2012-13

Erasmus+ – Germany and Austria, 2014-16

'Being a citizen obliges us to actively take care of our community. By doing voluntary work you add a whole new dimension to your life.'

The 3 things that Patrycjusz loves the most? His family, mountains and the idea of united Europe. This is why he joined GOPR (Górskie Ochotnicze Pogotowie Ratunkowe) – the Polish Mountain Volunteer Search and Rescue service in 2012. The closeness with nature, adrenaline, and an unstoppable urge to help others were also motivators that pushed him into playing with the dangers of the wild Polish mountains. 

Having worked with European regional cooperation programmes, Patrycjusz came up with an idea of organising international training for Polish GOPR volunteers with fellow rescuers from Germany and Austria.

The main objective was to exchange experiences, knowledge and good practices. Volunteers were trained on how to conduct rescue actions on a glacier, in an avalanche or from a helicopter. The last edition of the project was about building an e-learning platform to enhance the effectiveness of the training process based on the German example.

'Being able to help others is a privilege which makes you feel needed and useful. It’s an amazing school of cooperation and mutual trust. Your life depends on the action of people around you, same as their lives depend on your action. Is there a better way to learn humbleness?' says Patrycjusz

The partnerships with German and Austrian services resulted in ongoing cooperation and the teams are able to conduct rescue missions together. This collaboration fosters not only cooperation and mutual learning, but also 'It had shaped me as a European making me understand the true value behind such words as openness, tolerance and integrity'.

Haver Järveoja – 24 – Estonia

Haver Järveoja – 24 – Estonia

Higher Education – Germany, 2013

‘My Erasmus+ experience was the catalyst for co-founding Wolf 3D.’

Ever wanted to be a hero in a video game? You will soon be able to do just that by downloading Estonian start-up Wolf 3D’s software that creates avatars of real people for video games and virtual reality applications.

It all started when Wolf 3D’s COO and co-founder, Haver, heard about Erasmus+ while studying finance at the Estonian Business School. He decided to apply as he felt it would enhance his career and help him forge valuable contacts. He was selected to go to the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, he said: 'I’ve always loved Germany and I wanted to get to know more about its culture I met a lot of good friends there, not only from Europe, but from China as well.’

Following his Erasmus+, Haver worked as a national coordinator in a student organisation. This experience brought out his entrepreneurial side and ultimately inspired him to set up Wolf 3D. After just 2 years, Wolf 3D has 8 staff and is growing. ‘The office is a great mix of people and cultures – a bit like Erasmus+,’ he said. Moreover, the company has just entered the US market and has ambitions to expand worldwide. Thanks to his Erasmus+ experience, the future is definitely bright for Haver and his company.

EURIAC – Sweden

EURIAC – Sweden

Vocational Education and Training project – Finland, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain, 2011-13

'The skills acquired by the pupils during the European class make them more attractive in the global market place.'

The European Industrial Automation Class (EURIAC) project designed a European class in industrial automation that has provided around 70 Vocational Education and Training (VET) students in the industrial automation sector with the necessary skillsets to increase their employability both at home and abroad. Through learning exchanges, students had the opportunity to learn about industrial production lines in factories in various contexts and countries. Project coordinator Pernilla Öhberg says ‘students also learned how to work in transnational project teams, and to develop their social and language skills’.  

A total of 300 students have taken part in a variety of European classes (other subjects include welding and truck maintenance). The European Class is school-based mobility and designed as a stand-alone educational unit that can be integrated into any European vocational education and training programme in industrial automation. To ensure students get the best out of all their VET programmes, EURIAC also helped develop the European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET) - the European instrument to promote mutual trust and mobility between institutions.

Many EURIAC project participants have received awards as a result of their role in the project. One of the students that participated in the European class exchanges won the gold medal in the national and European skills games in Mechatronics and came 4th in the World Skills games. A EURIAC VET teacher, received Sweden’s most prestigious award for industrial automation - the Itf Framtidspris - as a result of his work on both EURIAC and on VET in automation in Sweden.

GOAL (Guidance and Orientation for Adult Learners)

GOAL (Guidance and Orientation for Adult Learners)

Adult education project – Belgium, Czech Republic, Iceland, Lithuania, Netherlands, Slovenia, United Kingdom, Turkey, 2015-18

'We are focusing on education that is linked to better employment in the future and to more sustainable jobs.'

The GOAL project developed field trials to help adults who have lower qualification levels and guide them towards a skill-focused training or educational programme. Project partners from 6 countries are filling a gap by collaborating with employment services and other partners (social welfare services, integration services, NGOs). They aim to help identify and fulfill the learning needs of vulnerable, multi-risk people (such as socially disadvantaged people, early school leavers, former inmates, migrants, etc.) through  guidance and counselling sessions both one-to-one and in group. Since the target groups vary and individual needs are different, tailored approaches are used.

The GOAL project has reached around 100-200 low qualified adults in each country and about 1,000 in total, through the piloted guidance services.  The processes and outcomes in these field trials are being evaluated to provide evidence for policy makers for upscaling the services in partner and other countries. The final conclusions of the policy experimentation will be disseminated in an international conference in January 2018 and through national conferences in each partner country.

The international standing of Erasmus+ has helped the project gain extra credibility and a platform to experiment with different approaches and to compare with each other, explains Nadia Reynders, the project coordinator.

Nadia is confident about the results so far: in Flanders (Belgium) most participants are working towards a secondary education qualification while undertaking vocational training in sectors such as IT, social work, accountancy, and caregiving professions. Another important lesson came from Iceland: when a person is facing emotional or social barriers, ‘the right conditions to learn should be fulfilled first before they can step into an educational programme.’

The project is not only about getting people into education, but also about developing networks to reach the target groups. ‘It is all about processes: about how people develop in the project; about their different feedback; about establishing collaboration - the failures that you experience, and the conditions that you need to make these collaborations successful.’



Sylvie Le Moël Philippe – 50 – France

Sylvie Le Moël Philippe – 50 – France

Adult Education

Greece, Cyprus & UK, 2011-16

As Erasmus+ project manager, and voluntary tutor at a non-profit education centre in Brittany, Sylvie has experienced first-hand how work and study exchanges can improve the provision of education, broaden horizons, and reinforce cultural understanding. Having studied in London and Bruges, and been the recipient of several Grundtvig scholarships herself, Sylvie now devotes her time to helping others follow in her footsteps and experience the varied teaching and learning opportunities available throughout Europe as part of the Erasmus+ programme. She has developed several Erasmus+ projects in the fields of language learning and intercultural awareness, and pioneered ground-breaking initiatives such as bringing Greek language and cultural studies into prison education in France.

Kieran Brosnan – 51 – Ireland

Kieran Brosnan – 51 – Ireland

In 2014, St. Paul’s Primary School undertook a year-long Erasmus+ project which fostered mobility amongst school pupils. The theme of the project was Inclusive Education; it aimed to educate staff and pupils, and develop an increased awareness of cultural diversity in the classroom to ensure equal opportunities for all. By working alongside schools in Latvia, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey with a similar profile to their own, Kieran Brosnan, the project coordinator, was able to share experiences and ideas with colleagues throughout Europe and introduce new teaching and learning methods to his school. Concepts such as 'team teaching' are now used by Kieran and his colleagues in Ireland, and their pupils are really benefiting from more diverse teaching styles and cooperative learning activities. St. Paul's Primary school now offers a more inclusive learning environment, and staff and pupils have recently received a national award for their participation in the campaign 'Show Racism the Red Card'.


Roberto Breeveld – 30 – Netherlands

Roberto Breeveld – 30 – Netherlands

School Education – eTwinning

Germany, Denmark, UK, France & Sweden,  2012

Roberto is a geography teacher and enthusiastic eTwinning ambassador for the Netherlands. Since 2012, Robert has led two eTwinning projects, organising virtual student exchanges across five European countries. By interacting with people from different backgrounds, his pupils gain new perspectives and become more open to new ways of thinking and learning. They also greatly improve their English language and ICT skills. The experience is also educational for Roberto himself, prompting him to try new and exciting approaches to teaching and learning.

Marit Ilison – 32 – Estonia

Marit Ilison – 32  – Estonia

Artist, fashion designer and entrepreneur

Vocational Education and Training – Belgium, 2009

One needs to experience and learn about the subject in the real world.’

Marit is a multi-disciplinary artist and fashion designer, who mixes deep concepts with feelings in her work. She had two Erasmus+ experiences. First, a year in Copenhagen where she was encouraged to work with conceptual fashion themes more deeply while, ‘learning to explore new ideas and experiment with new techniques’. She says this experience has had a ‘major impact’ on her career path and ‘a huge influence on my creations; it is the basis of my work’.

An Erasmus+ training in Antwerp let her work for Bruno Pieters and pattern making atelier ‘Trois Quarts’. This life experience taught her ‘a great deal about people’s personal space, acceptance and tolerance’.

Marit is a strong support of profession-specific education and gaining experience outside of the classroom, explaining how her creative work was and still is influenced by the ideas and hands-on experience she gained: 'I always start my projects from a feeling or a concept and the Erasmus+ experience gave me the courage to walk my own path.’

Marit has been awarded for her work, including Estonia’s Kristjan Raud Art Prize and a Young Designer Award SÄSI. She was the finalist of the prestigious 29th Hyéres Fashion competition and was named a ‘Vogue Talent’ in 2014 as well as a ‘Vogue Success Story’ in 2016.

Arianna Frascarelli – 27 – Italy

Arianna Frascarelli – 27 – Italy

Team leader and Instructor at Foro Solidario Caja de Burgos

European Voluntary Service – Spain, 2014

‘I would recommend anyone to take part in Erasmus+… it totally changed my life on a personal level. It required me to adapt to other cultures to co-exist.’

When Arianna signed up for a 9-month volunteer placement at Amycos, little did she know that she would return to the same city and call Spain her home of more than 3 years.

Today she works at a partner organisation of the charity where she first volunteered. As an instructor at Foro Solidario Caja de Burgos, she is part of a team that provides free training, promotes teamwork and initiates cultural exchanges for associations in Burgos who work with young people with disadvantaged background.

Arianna works mostly with infants, primary or secondary school children, hoping to empower their entrepreneurial and creative spirit with informal and new education methods. Offering words of advice, Arianna says that: ‘potential entrepreneurs need to be proactive and fearless. Every person has a talent. Do not worry about being judged and, importantly, listen. Also, do not be afraid to ask for help and co-operate.’

Foro Solidario was set up with the ambition to create a society based on respect, tolerance, cooperation and unity. Young people are invited to talks and activities on subjects such as emotional intelligence, self-confidence, equity commerce, yoga and drama - based on these principals. Focussing on social action, Arianna and her colleagues aim to prepare the children for the future and programmes are often in collaboration with NGOs or experts in particular fields.

Erasmus+ left such a strong impression on Arianna that she now recommends the programme to the young people she helps, and she works alongside new Erasmus+ participants who join her team for a few months.

Norbert Werner – 36 – Slovakia

Norbert Werner – 36 – Slovakia


Higher Education – the Netherlands, 2003

'My quick career progression wouldn’t have been possible, had I failed to embark on Erasmus+.'

A mix-up during Norbert’s Erasmus exchange launched the astrophysicist’s career studying the hottest places and most energetic phenomena in the Universe.

Inspired by Stephen Hawking, Norbert urged his professor to facilitate an Erasmus exchange with Utrecht University so he could study where his hero once lectured. Initially intended to study in Utrecht University, eventually Norbert spent 3 months at the Netherlands Institute for Space Research and worked on satellite data that he could only read about as a child. At an extraordinary young age, Norbert had a scientific paper on a binary star published in a prestigious journal thanks to this opportunity. In fact, his hard work during his Erasmus+ experience was 'huge for me and my career'.

This turning point fueled his enthusiasm for astronomy and Norbert later returned to Utrecht for his PhD, before being offered a prestigious NASA-sponsored Chandra fellowship at Stanford University - then his career really took off. ‘It all started with Erasmus+. It made everything possible.’

Today he leads the Lendület Hot Universe research group at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest and is an associate professor at the Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic.  He still works with former colleagues in Utrecht and Stanford and spends 3 months each year working in Hiroshima, Japan.

Kinga Jentetics – 29 – Hungary

Kinga Jentetics – 29 – Hungary

Founder of PublishDrive

Higher education – Switzerland, 2013

‘Erasmus+ underlined the importance of being open minded to other cultures, which something that is hugely important in running my own business and in my everyday life.’

For ambitious Hungarian entrepreneur Kinga, the Erasmus+ programme is about building international networks and learning from different cultures. She believes ‘entrepreneurship is something that you cannot really learn; it is something that you need to do. Seeing how entrepreneurship is done can be extremely helpful.’ After spending a semester at the University of St Gallen, Kinga launched PublishDrive, an ebook start-up that empowers small publishers and authors to reach more readers and track sales using marketing software. The business, which currently has 10 employees and distributes to over 100 countries, is founded on the concept of ‘respecting other people and other ways of doing things’. 

Kinga’s business is gaining recognition internationally, and her company is now well placed to tap into the growing market for ebooks. Kinga herself was recently nominated in Forbes Magazine’s ‘30 Under 30’ list of media entrepreneurs and is an active ambassador of women entrepreneurship.

Jaime Arbona & Gonzalo Lathera – both 30 – Spain

Jaime Arbona & Gonzalo Lathera – both 30 – Spain

Co-founders of Selectra

Higher Education – France, 2009-10 and 2010-11

‘I really think that people that participate in the Erasmus+ programme are more prepared for the real world.’ (Gonzalo Lathera)

Childhood friends Jaime and Gonzalo are inspiring examples of how studying and working abroad can change lives and lead to great things. The duo from Seville won Erasmus+ scholarships a year apart to the prestigious École Centrale Paris, an experience that ‘really opened our minds. I think we are able to show that as entrepreneurs we have experience abroad, and are aware of how the world works’ says Gonzalo Lathera.

Their time in Paris is at the heart of their success. They both found jobs in the French capital after graduation, and met their business associates there. They spent evenings working together on a business concept - bringing Selectra, an energy tariff platform that was started in France - to Spain.

Studying abroad prepared them for working in an international context, because everyone works with people from other countries these days. Knowing that there are different ways of doing things is a huge benefit’. This vein of internationalism runs deep through the company. In addition to the Madrid office, which already employs around 200 staff, the company has opened a subsidiary in Portugal and has plans to enter South America, providing consumer advice on energy tariffs.

Selectra's outstanding success, originated and materialised thanks to Jamie and Gonzalo's experience abroad: 'without Erasmus+, we would not be in the position we are now. We would not have met the people we met, nor had the chance to study and work abroad and developed new skills. Erasmus really opened our minds.'

Yolanda Rueda Fernández – 42 – Spain

Yolanda Rueda Fernández – 42 – Spain

Founder and president of Fundación Cibervoluntarios (Cyber Volunteers Foundation)

Capacity building under the field of youth, 2015- present

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Macedonia, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Senegal, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, UK

'I think young people need to see the reality more, different social contexts. Without doubt, volunteering is a good way to get closer to different realities.'

Yolanda’s fascination with technology began when she discovered the Internet more than 20 years ago. In 1996, she co-founded Campus Party, which every year brings together ‘technology fans’ from all over the world.

During her career working in the digital world, she discovered that the joys of technology are not always available for everyone. The ambitious technophile took it upon herself to ensure that others could access the empowering resources available online and she set up the Cibervoluntarios Foundation in 2001.  

Today a group of more than 1,500 ‘cybervolunteers’ help more than 20,000 people a year and work with over 500 organisations in Spain. They provide training to (digitally) challenged groups such as, children, the elderly and people with disabilities.

The foundation has joined up with an Erasmus+ international collaboration that enables them to improve training programmes by providing the opportunity to share ideas and experiences with organisations from more than 20 countries.

Yolanda hopes that more young people will participate in volunteering opportunities so they could see and act on social needs. ‘As they already know the technology, when they see a social need, they will try to find a solution. These ideas will be the jobs of tomorrow with a vision of social equality. We just need to create the right climate.



Gianni Cristian Iannelli – 30 – Italy

Gianni Cristian Iannelli – 30 – Italy

Founder and CEO of Ticinum Aerospace

Higher Education – United Kingdom, 2010

‘Those who participate in Erasmus+ enter the business market where they see the theory they learned at university applied in practice.

After 5 months of Erasmus+ experience during his graduate studies in Pavia, Gianni has a career path in sight. Working at a global risk and disaster management consultancy in Ashtead during his Erasmus+, he learnt tools that assess the risk of natural hazards by means of space-borne Earth observation data. This was the ‘starting point’ for him to launch his own company, after completing a PhD and going on to invent new state-of-the art techniques in geospatial data analysis. The Erasmus+ experience helped Gianni to gain a clear view on his carrier aspirations: 'if I hadn't done Erasmus I would still be confused about what to do next ... this experience gave me a hint about what I want to do for the next 10-20 years … After my experience I went back to Italy and started to focus more in-depth on catastrophe analysis based on satellite data. I made a lot of new connections through networking and today I am leading a company in this field.’

Other than career path and technical skills, Gianni perfected his presentation and language skills, and opened his mind to other cultures and work practices which he later put in practice in Italy and Brazil - all thanks to his Erasmus+ experience.

As an employer today, Gianni is an advocate for young people going abroad and says that those who have travelled are more prone to learn new things, to accept different and challenging situations and to bring forward new ideas: ‘if you have a lot of experiences you can see much further than others … you have more data to compare and you can take better decisions based on your experiences.’

His company, Ticinum Aerospace, is currently active in satellite data analysis for risk assessment, and has been awarded a gold medal and a certificate as the ‘most innovative company’ by the province of Pavia in Italy.