Incubator for ExtraOrdinary Creators (ICEO)

Organisation and country where the good practice has been implemented: SEPR, France

Title: Incubator for ExtraOrdinary Creators (ICEO)

Main Theme/Area of intervention: Entrepreneurship

Main objectives: The objective is to provide learners with the skills they need to start their own business: launching, sales, pricing & costing, management, funding, etc. Some of them are already tackled during their training but, at the incubator, they are deepened and applied to a real-life project. Learners can benefit from workshops, individual meetings with experts, and the support of a mentor. More importantly, they have access during 4 months to SEPR’s 46K-sqm-campus, with 40 technical workshops, to design their prototypes and build their project.

Target groups addressed: So far, the incubator has been reserved to our learners or alumni who have their own project idea, but we may open it soon to the external public, because we already received several requests from outside our VET centre (individuals with a business project, other incubators who wish to have access to our workshops). The teachers are also involved, and they are even key actors in this project, because they are the ones allowing the incubatees to access our technical workshops under their supervision, and with all the necessary safety measures when dealing with complex or dangerous equipment (for example to cut wood, etc.).

Main activities necessary for its realisation: For this practice to work, the management board has to be convinced by the project and support it, by providing dedicated funds and human resources. You also need a dedicated space to welcome the incubatees in good conditions, and workshops give an added value to your incubator. Another key factor is the cooperation from the staff members and especially teachers, because they are the technical referees coordinating the access to workshops for prototyping.

Results achieved: The incubator’s 1st session took place in October 2020, bringing together 5 women from different professional areas: fashion, hairdresser, cabinetmaking, esthetics, shoemaker. For the October 2021 session, we had more applications than needed, some of them with promising projects, so we were confident about this session.

Innovation: We have observed that it is quite rare to have an incubator within a VET centre; the practice is more common in business schools or universities. Moreover, our incubator is dedicated mostly to ‘creative’ industries (such as cabinetmaking, jewelry, fashion, etc.) which is also a difference compared to other incubators. Our incubator has enabled us to create a new cooperation ecosystem, a new way of working together for students, teachers, staff and even external partners because some modules are taught by experts and business professionals from the entrepreneurial ecosystem, who did not work with us before.

Transferability: This practice can be transferred to other VET centres in any country, provided they have their management board’s support and necessary human resources (manager + extra time from teachers). Some procedures are also needed, to use the technical workshops in safe conditions, as well as a precise program. For example, our training is composed of 14 modules in groups (1 per week) covering all the steps to start a business. Incubatees also have 8 hours of individual appointments, with experts from their trade and the entrepreneurial world. They also choose a mentor, usually a business owner who provides moral support.

Impact: Local, Regional, National, International

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