i.e. SMART: Creating young entrepreneurs and new jobs

Following the economic crisis, young people living in central Europe have faced dismal employment prospects. At the same time, growth of small and medium sized companies in Europe has stagnated. To turn these two negatives into a positive, the i.e. SMART project helps unemployed youth create their own jobs via innovation awareness-raising, education and training.

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Participants of the SMART Trainers Workshop in Budapest celebrate their successful completion. Participants of the SMART Trainers Workshop in Budapest celebrate their successful completion.

It all started with a competition looking for the best new business ideas in the areas of information-communication technology (ICT), green economy and the creative industries. To the surprise of the SMART Training Network for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Emerging Sustainable Economic Sectors project, or i.e. SMART, they received hundreds of applications.

Five contestants presenting the best business ideas from each of the seven participating regions were invited to the SMART Campus. Here, each young entrepreneur received one-on-one coaching and had the opportunity to pitch their ideas to potential investors.

Disrupting comfort zones

i.e. SMART has already had a substantial impact by inspiring hundreds of young people to step out of their comfort zones and launch their own business. To facilitate this, the project has set up entrepreneurship centres, or SMART Points, where people between the ages of 14 and 30 can gather with likeminded individuals to receive training.

Realizing that not everyone can attend a SMART Point, project partners developed a state-of-the-art interactive, 3D SMART Site. This platform allowed trainers to provide participants with tools and assistance remotely and via third-party institutions. 

The project also brought together aspiring young entrepreneurs with like-minded individuals in other countries via the SMART Network, thus infusing a global aspect into the programme.

A new way of thinking

The impact of i.e. SMART is also being felt in classrooms across the region. Having identified a real need for entrepreneurial education as an integral part of the mainstream curriculum, education systems are now looking to embed entrepreneurial thinking into everyday classroom instruction.

As a result, the immediate gains generated by i.e. SMART are likely to continue long after the project.

"The positive impact of this project can easily be seen by observing the students – they are engaged, motivated and eager to be part of society.”

Dr Hartmut Rӧsch, Head of Department for Further Education and Start-Up Center, Stuttgart Media University, Germany


Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “SMART Training Network for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Emerging Sustainable Economic Sectors” is EUR 2 133 700, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 1 675 165 from the Operational Programme “CENTRAL EUROPE” for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.


Draft date

01/07/2014