The i2Space Challenge was created with the aim of encouraging young people in Montenegro to think in the direction of self-employment, i.e. creating their own workplace, as well as recognising and solving problems at the community level. The call for participation, which lasted almost a month, until 18 May, brought many interesting ideas, of which nine entered the shortlist of challenges, which were assumed to have the most potential for development. Nine selected teams took part in an exciting challenge organised over two weekdays, on the 30 and 31 May. The whole challenge took place online using the Zoom application.
“The coronavirus has changed everything, and I believe the world will never be the same again. But that may be a good thing. I think the coronavirus has indicated to us that we need to change many things because they are unsustainable – we have to take more care of our neighbours, our environment, young people. We must be in solidarity. To find out how to do that, it is best to ask young people such as yourself. Each of the teams has chosen very important life topics and if it was up to me they would all be winners, because you have shown that you think for the benefit of the whole community and especially the most vulnerable, ” said the Head of European Integration, Political Affairs, Media and Information section at the EU Delegation to Montenegro, Plamena Halacheva, during the opening of the I2Space Challenge Days.
On the first day, the teams worked on developing their ideas with mentors who were there to listen to the ideas, advise them, and give suggestions to them. On the second day, the teams summarised everything they had done the day before, prepared presentations of their ideas, and finally pitched them in front of an expert jury. After the pitch was over, videos of the teams with ideas were posted on the Facebook page of the i2Space Challenge Days, where the public could get acquainted with the ideas and vote for their favourite one.
“I am looking forward to all of the good results of this Challenge, as well as the overall project that supports entrepreneurship and creative young people. The European Union is really honoured to support this project and we will continue to fund similar innovative projects in the future. I hope that all of your ideas will come to fruition. I would like to remind you to follow all of European Union programmes such as cross-border cooperation programmes, Erasmus, Cosme, and many others that provide you with opportunities to be creative and innovative as well as to receive structural and financial support,” advised Halacheva.
The top five teams receive support worth €2,500, per team, consisting of: four days of boot camp, the use of six months of space and equipment in the i2Space incubator, mentoring support for the prototype process, assistance in obtaining venture capital through return or grants from donors or funds, and €300 pocket money. The first-ranked solution with the stated support is available to the fund for investing in the idea in the amount of €2,500.
By the decision of the jury, the teams that entered the finals within the i2Space community and who will continue to work on the development of their ideas are:
- Progressive team – the idea: iMontenegro
Through iMontenegro, the Progressive team presented a modern software solution to help strengthen mental health. The coronavirus which appeared and the measures that were initiated in order to suppress it, caused caused a feeling of discomfort, anxiety, ambiguity, and the like. If we take into account that the percentage of people in Montenegro who have mental health problems has been high before, it is clear that it is necessary to create a solution that will deal with this.
- Ecowin team – the idea: We care
Tim Ecowin presented online psychological counseling as its business idea. A problem that has been recognised even before the coronavirus is the increasing presence of mental illness, which is still a taboo topic in society. Through the idea of We care, this team wants to create a simple and clear site with a list of psychologists, with whom you can consult at affordable prices.
- Team Boca – the idea: Clean
The protection of the environment and the need to create safer and hygienically better packaging, especially after the appearance of Covid-19, attracted the attention of the Boca team. The team presented itself with the idea of creating glass milk bottles, which would be used instead of previous tetra packs and similar packaging.
- DLM team – the idea: Usluži.me
The Covid-19 pandemic has increased unemployment in Montenegro by some 8%, resulting in reduced turnover in companies that had to lay off labour, while smaller entrepreneurs do not have the opportunity to expand their businesses, and a large number of individuals would like to start their own businesses. Most often, they do not do so because they do not know enough about the legislation. That is why the DLM team offers the Usluži.me platform, which works on solving these problems.
Most of the work is just getting started for these five winning ideas.