New Generations as Innovation Main Leaders – Opportunities for young people in the newly innovation district of MIND – Milano Innovation District

MIND Education, the MIND-Milano Innovation District project, engage the younger generations through a district-focused competition, the initiatives Futurabili and Social Innovation Campus

The new generations are living in a rapidly evolving world marked by technological advancements, innovative companies, and social and environmental challenges. Particularly in these contexts, they will need to navigate the future working world, which undoubtedly will not resemble what we perceive today. They will require practical and theoretical skills to meet these challenges. Hence, MIND – Milano Innovation District (the area that hosted Expo in 2015) introduces MIND Education, featuring the competition “A City in MIND. The senses of the city,” “Futurabili”, Social Innovation Campus and other opportunities for students from primary school to university to connect with innovative entities within the district.

In its seventh edition, MIND Education is a project dedicated to the youth

MIND, an Italian center of scientific excellence and a neighborhood in the city of Milan, aims to create a vital space for local development. The project goes beyond economic growth, addressing the significant challenges of our time: the environment, health and well-being, and social inclusion. Alongside the district’s founders, Arexpo – a predominantly public capital company – and Lendlease – an Australian group responsible for the private design and development of the district – with the support of Plus Value in transforming the legacy site of Milan’s Expo 2015 into one of the most prestigious urban regeneration projects in Europe, various organizations, companies, and startups have settled or are in the process of settling within MIND.

Looking to the future, in 2018, Arexpo and Lendlease initiated the MIND Education program. The goal is to involve students, the future main leaders of economic and social development, in co-creating this area of Milan. From the second edition onward, the program has grown in terms of promoters, with organizations like Fondazione Triulza, a network of third-sector organizations focusing on social innovation and community engagement; Human Technopole, a research center of excellence and large-scale research infrastructure; Institute for Hospitalization and Treatment (IRCCS) Galeazzi Scientific; and the University of Milan joining. The program’s target has also expanded to include students at all educational levels, providing a shared, broad, and creative vision of the district that will belong to them.

The "A City in MIND. The senses of the city" contest is now underway; here are the details

MIND Education’s seventh edition integrates MIND entities to involve and offer opportunities to students from primary schools to universities. In this edition, the contest focuses on the theme “A City in MIND. The senses of the city.” Primary and lower secondary schools in the Lombardy region are asked to develop creative and innovative solutions and ideas to promote social and environmental sustainability in the city of the future, using a sensory perspective.

The reference goal is United Nations Agenda 2030 Goal 11: “Cities and communities must become safer, more sustainable, and inclusive.” However, projects from participating classes can develop and connect to all 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. The best projects will receive €9,000 awards for the purchase of services and equipment for educational and laboratory activities for the winning schools. The deadline for online project submissions is Monday, April 15, 2024.

Approaching the World of Work: A Guide for Students and Teachers

Specific paths are dedicated to upper secondary schools (high schools, technical institutes, and professional institutes) to develop skills and navigate various thematic areas in collaboration with the European Commission Joint Research Center in Ispra (Varese). The program aims to showcase two local excellences, share tools and knowledge useful for the growth of young individuals, and connect them with the real challenges of the working world and research. It also aims to guide and support them in understanding their talents and aspirations to make informed choices for the future. Seven thematic areas have been identified: Pharma and Biomed, Research and Life Science, Design and Fashion, Urban Planning and Architecture, IT Tech, Mechanical/Mechatronics, and Multisectoral Social Economy. For each thematic area, the program consists of three modules: a visit to MIND and two modules to be carried out in the classroom, before and after the visit. This approach guides students and teachers, helping them delve into innovations, new challenges, and opportunities in the working world, as well as new skills and job professions. The project collaborates with the Center for Guidance for Study and Professions at the University of Milan (COSP), the Orientation Office of the Polytechnic of Milan, and the orientation offices of CIMA – Campus ITS MIND Academy developed by Valore Italia.

Futurabili: an Orientation Path for Future Jobs

In front of social, technological, and environmental changes, numerous new professions are emerging that require the development of equally new skills. Starting from adolescence, young people contemplate their educational choices and career prospects.  Thanks to an experimentation made possible by the European project “T-Factor”, to assist their orientation, “Futurabili” was born. Futurabili is the first orientation path of MIND’s Community House dedicated to future professions and skills. This year marks its second edition, with the first pilot of Futurabili already involving significant partners: PlusValue, specialised in designing and implementing urban innovation ecosystems with a focus on innovative financial models to achieve positive economic, social, and environmental impacts; Polytechnic of Milan; ROLD, a leading company in the production of innovative components and solutions for domestic, professional, and industrial appliances; Desigtnech, a technological innovation hub in the design, furnishing, and construction sector; Fondazione Triulza; and CoopeRho, a local third-sector organization. Overall, the goal of the MIND Community House is to create collaboration between the business community of MIND and the surrounding external actors, namely from Milan and adjacent municipalities.

Futurabili offers a series of training experiences to help the professional orientation of young people. The first edition focused on four themes: Artificial Intelligence, Rapid Prototyping, Advanced Materials, Industry 4.0. Futurabili enhances knowledge of emerging technologies and future professions by providing practical experiences in one of these areas. Understanding if it is the right path and what skills are necessary are crucial to assist those who are choosing or want to change their course of study or work.

This year, the second edition of Futurabili will be called “FuturAbili4Baranzate.” The program will focus on familiarizing some young people between the ages of 15 and 19 from Baranzate (the most multicultural municipality in Italy, neighboring to MIND) with MIND and its business and natural ecosystem, from November 2023 to March 2024. They will be guided on a knowledge and educational journey by PlusValue, Fondazione Triulza, La Rotonda, Valore Italia, University of Milan, and the company ROLD. These actors will provide knowledge, skills and laboratories for youngsters to gain practical experience. At the end of the program, the young participants, guided by a professional videomaker, will create a mini-video reportage on their personal perception of MIND that will be then showed to the public in March, as the final output of this initiative.

The wish is that MIND can open its doors more and more to young people and the surrounding to more clearly present the opportunities that offers and the potentialities.

Social Innovation Campus, online and real life school activities

The Social Innovation Campus is the first Italian Campus on Social Innovation organised by Fondazione Triulza which offers free initiatives, online and in person, for young people and students of secondary schools, Higher technical education and training paths (IFTS) and Higher technical institute (ITS) courses, universities, recent graduates from high school and university. Moreover, the Campus also promotes social tech companies that use technological innovations to maximize positive social and environmental impact.

The Campus offers free opportunities to learn about and experience the new frontiers of sustainability, innovation and social impact. Furthermore, professions and skills of the future, soft skills and civic education topics can be explored in depth. The goal is to involve schools and young people in debates, experimentation and co-planning, interacting with various third sector entities, start-ups, universities and research centres, local authorities, profit and social enterprises and MIND stakeholders.

The Campus was launched in 2020 by Fondazione Triulza’s Social Innovation Academy in MIND. In the first four editions it has involved 20,000 people, including around 10,500 young people and students from all over Italy. The 2024 edition will be held on 28 and 29 February, but several other steps are foreseen during the year. The number of participants is expected to be doubled comparing to the previous editions. The activities, in line with the European Year of Skills, will address the development of skills and the valorization of talents: “Skills 4 Social Innovation. Everyone’s talents to build the future.” In particular, students will have the opportunity to test themselves with activities such as talks, workshops, hackathons, thematic workshops, orientation workshops on soft skills, bootcamps and much more.

The initiatives will take place in person and online to give students from all regions of Italy and also from abroad the opportunity to participate. In fact, schools from Abruzzo, Basilicata, Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, Sicily and Veneto have already confirmed their participation. A hackathon team is involving students from Germany and Spain. While with the the Quebec delegation in Rome is defining the possible involvement of Canadian students.