SIC facilitated experimentation with social innovation in four European cities. Here we share short case studies of the processes in these four cities, in which local actors co-created innovative solutions to social challenges. One of these local actors, Forwardspace, who facilitated the experimentation in Pärnu, Estonia, has recently been awarded for being one of the best initiatives with significant impact in the regional development. Oliver Sild and Agnes Talalaev, who were directly involved in the SIC experimentation writes about this – unexpected – important award. Congratulations Forwardspace!
Co-working space Forwardspace in Estonia, Pärnu was recognized by the Estonian Government and got honored with the award called “Regionaalmaasikas” (in english: Regional Strawberry) by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Estonia and the Minister of Public Administration. Only five projects over the country got the award and Forwardspace was one of them.
The purpose of this prize is to promote actions in smaller areas outside of the capital. “Regional development depends on good people and leaders, thanks to whom new jobs, self-improvement and free time spending opportunities are made,” said the Minister of Public Administration.
Pärnu is a small city in Estonia with a population of only 40k. It is mostly known for it’s beautiful beach, sea and spas. There are a lot of entrepreneurial-minded people but they never had a space to come together, meet, collaborate and share ideas. This problem was recognized by five young entrepreneurs: Marten Palu, Oliver Sild, Silver Smeljanski, Agnes Talalaev and Marie Rosalie Hanni.
“It is good to work here, because you meet a lot of people with different skills you may need later in your life,” said Hanni about why she loves being the community manager. They have 28 working spaces, a meeting room, an event room, a gaming room and of course a kitchen with free coffee. They are already trying to find ways to expand.
They found rooms to create the space but it clearly needed a lot of renovation before it could be used as an office. When they started, they had no budget or knowledge of construction. 9 months, 50 sponsors, dozens of volunteers, constantly painty hands, and a lot of sleepless nights later they opened the first co-working space in Pärnu. Now the co-working space has been open for one year and three months and has a constantly growing community of entrepreneurs.
“Youth is a way of thinking, not an age,” mentioned Hanni. Youngsters are their target group, because they are the future, but not them only. Forwardspace welcomes people of all ages. Since opening they have organized over 50 events for youth and established entrepreneurs, startups etc. Events vary from courses like the Digital Marketing Academy to networking events like Board Game Nights and Founder Stories. Contests for cyber-security enthusiasts and events promoting the gaming industry.
The biggest accomplishment for the ending of first year was partnering up with the biggest business incubator Tehnopol Startup Incubator, which is located in Tallinn. Now startups can take part of their program in Pärnu!