Iringa Living Lab organised a workshop on the 26th - 27th November in order to enhance community networks in Iringa region. The objectives were to create partnerships between the different stakeholders and to create a platform for further cooperation, as well as come up with new social innovations which will benefit the Iringa community. We invited stakeholders from the government, the community, universities and different organisations.
The workshop was facilitated by TANZICT. Jukka Siltanen and Kristiina Lähde provided us with participatory, interactive and inspiring activities throughout the workshop.
The Regional Commissioner Dr. Christine Ishengoma opened our workshop officially. She stated that Iringa Living Lab is a very welcome initiative in Iringa region. She pointed out that one strength of the developed societies "is their ability to work together and create synergy". She also emphasized the role of knowledge. Iringa Living Lab is a step in the right direction, said Dr. Ishengoma. She thinks the concept of Iringa Living Lab is exciting, because Iringa Living Lab encourages different stakeholders to work and come up with innovations, initiatives and solutions together instead of competing against each others. Dr. Ishengoma assured us that Iringa Living Lab has both her moral support and her active participation.
After Regional Commissioner Dr. Ishengoma opened the workshop officially, the concept of a living lab was introduced to the participants. They also got to know what Iringa Living Lab has been occupied with so far. Then all the stakeholders made an organisation poster and we had "an organisational fair" where the participants had the chance to get familiar with all the participating organisations and stakeholders. This was also the first opportunity to identify shared roles, actions and future goals with other stakeholders and the first step for creating partnerships.
Next the participants were given a task to individually define a key problem or issue in the Iringa community. Group members shared these key issues and discussed them with other groups. At the end of the first day the participants voted for those issues that need to be tackled right away. Four of them were selected for further discussion:
1) How to create more new businesses and help small businesses grow?
2) How to help people to find, access and create job opportunities?
3) How to make science and technology more appealing in society?
4) How to transform Iringa into a green city?
These key issues served as the starting point for the second day. The participants decided which issue they wanted to focus on and four groups were formed. In groups the participants did brainstorming on how to solve the issue in Iringa community.
Each group came up with a number of ideas. The groups selected one of them and the next stage was to write an action plan: a very concrete plan about what the next steps would be during the next three months.
Group number 1 decided to work on the idea of entrepreneurship clubs in schools. The goal is to help children become innovative and creative in a unique way, be proactive, find their own strengths, and understand the possibility to create their own work. Eventually the group wants to include entrepreneurial education in the curriculum as a part of all school subjects.
The second group decided to organise a participatory workshop on how to create job opportunities in Iringa region. The workshop will provide the forum for the discussion, but also help different stakeholders to meet each others and find true commitment.
The science group decided to create a science and technology club for primary and secondary schools in Iringa municipality in order to make science and technology appealing and relevant in everyday life. They are also planning to organise a science week for schools.
The goal of the environmental group is to increase environmental awareness and transform Iringa into a green city. They want to educate people, establish a plant nursery, plant trees around the municipality, and form environmental youth clubs. Transforming Iringa into a green city will also make Iringa a beautiful and interesting tourist attraction and in that way increase tourism in the region.
The workshop serves as an excellent starting point for expanding Iringa Living Lab. The facilitators collected feedback from the workshop participants and in overall it was very positive and encouraging. The coordinators are looking forward to hearing more from the groups, but also from all the other stakeholders in Iringa. As Dr. Ishengoma pointed out: it is important that we do not work in isolation, but together.
The workshop shows that there is need and interest for this kind of a platform in Iringa. We were very pleased to hear the views, thoughts and ideas of the participants and see how committed they worked through the workshop.