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DISCO

DISCO is a project funded by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology to strengthen the innovation capacity of European higher education institutions through shared learning, cooperation, and the flow of knowledge.

DISCO is coordinated by Krakow University of Economics and with Lviv Polytechnic National University, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts and the European Centre for Women and Technology – ECWT as partners representing the broader innovation ecosystem.

Project Details:

DISCO will boost the development of innovation and entrepreneurship skills, through student training, advisory, and coaching support for start-ups and scale-ups, as well as structured capacity-building among the scientific and non-scientific staff of participating HEIs.

The project will achieve its aims by designing and creating new forms of cooperation and experimentation through innovation labs, an observatory, and the development of a common massive open online course, all with a view to supporting the development of a sense of initiative and entrepreneurial mindsets across the EU, training and mentoring around 1,200 people.

Duration: 01/06/2022  to  31/05/2024

UPDATES – EVENTS

 EVENT: 1st DISCO INNOVATION LAB AWARD COMPETITION – 1 Dec 2023

Description: The 1st IT-startups competition within the DISCO Innovation Lab was organized at Lviv Technical University on the 1st of December 2023. ECWT director Eva Fabry was one of the Jury members in the fascinating and inspirational pitching of the preselected fourteen teams of founders.

DATE: 1st of December 2023
PLACE:  Hybrid event
SHARE LINK: Read more on Linkedin

The event recognized the best ideas of students in the field of IT and confirmed the strong creative and analytic skills, interest in AI and big data as well as the motivation, self-awareness, and service orientation of young boys and girls in Ukraine.

The competitors of the 14 teams of students were from Lviv Polytechnic National University and Sumy State University. The jury consisted of well-known innovation and entrepreneurship experts from the DISCO partner countries, who function also as mentors for DISCO project participants: Stephen Wittkopf, Stan Alwasiak, Nazar Podolchak, Jakub Jasiczak, Julie Harboe, Christian Hohmann, Eva Fabry, Piotr Kopycinski, Bohdana Huriy, Marek Oramus, Stephanie Kaudela-Baum, Yuliia Halynska, Valerii Tsupa, Volodymyr Falchuk.

The jury was primarily looking for (i) the innovativeness and the uniqueness of the products and services, (ii) the business model of the presented solutions, (iii) the depth of the founder’s market analysis and their differentiation from their competitor, (iv) the start-ups reached the level of implementation …

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and last but not least (v) the teams’ overall performance and their presentation.

According to the voting results:

1st place was taken by the Free Walk team (Lviv Polytechnic), for the development of the Smart Walking Cane to facilitate the movement of visually impaired and blind people.

The second place was shared by the GrainMole team (Lviv Polytechnic) with their device for monitoring the condition of grain, and the SAFER land drone (Sumy State University).

The third place was also shared by the Cotia team (Lviv Polytechnic) with the development of a smart cat collar to help owners better understand their pet at any distance, and the OKTOWN team (Sumy State University), whose startup is an innovative marketplace aimed at promoting volunteer tourism in Ukraine.

The People’s Choice Award went to JMiL Drones, a drone-flying school for adults and children, who received 484 votes from their fans.

All teams received prizes in cash equivalents to develop their startups.

 EVENT: DISCO Mentoring Groups led by ECWT

Description: In the framework of the HORIZON EUROPE – EIT Climate KIC-funded DISCO project ECWT is actively involved in operating two mentoring groups (12 people) for Ukrainian girls to support their start-up journey.

DATE: October – December 2023
PLACE:  Webinar series
SHARE LINK: https://ecwt.eu/portfolio-item/disco/#Disco-Up04

The European Centre for Women and Technology plays a leading role and coordinates a rapidly growing Community for young girls and women in depth.

In the framework of the HORIZON EUROPE – EIT Climate KIC funded DISCO project ECWT is together with the partnership preparing the launch of a DISCO Gender Observatory in 2024  and ECWT is actively involved in operating two mentoring groups for Ukrainian girls to support their start-up journey.

One of the teams consists of girls in the field of artificial intelligence systems at Lviv Polytechnic University. ECWT´s key focus is on guiding and advising the students on participating in projects for women in technology and rigging their startups.

The other group gathers girls who have a more general interest in going for STEM careers and experimenting in different tech areas.

The original DISCO plans included 16 hours of mentoring, however, the passionate involvement of the mentees has resulted in an agreement on continued sessions throughout the lifetime of the Project, until the end of 2024.

Welcome to join and follow our progress, here: www.heidisco.com

 EVENT:  Skills for jobs of the future!

Description: Increasing the participation of women in the fields of cyber security and microelectronics in Poland and the Ukraine

DATE: 16 November 2023
PLACE:  Krakow, POLAND
SHARE LINK: https://ecwt.eu/news/the-skills-for-the-jobs-of-the-future/

ECWT is passionately involved in creating synergies for DISCO partners through its large European and global network and connected Polish and Ukrainian partners – in the framework of its ECoVEM project- in a conference focused on reskilling and upskilling vulnerable workers in various digital sectors. The conference, hosted by Sumy State University and Ignatianum University of Krakow, received support from NATO’s Science for Peace and Security (SPS) program.

This event, held on November 16, 2023, aimed to address the future of digital jobs, including AI, renewable energy systems, green technologies, cyber security, and microelectronics.

Discussions centered on the topic of increasing the participation of women in the fields of cyber security and microelectronics, with particular attention paid to the requirements of Poland and Ukraine. ECWT, along with its strategic partners, has emerged as a pivotal force in facilitating the knowledge transfer process.

By carefully addressing the identified needs and bridging the gaps in skills and competence, they are positioned to make a significant impact in the years to come.

 EVENT: Tolerance, inclusion, and engagement for a better tomorrow!

Description: Two young Ukrainian students among the winners of the European Wergeland Center´s competition “Youth Ambassadors across borders for Making a Change” participated in the youth exchange at Utøya in Norway on the 6-10th September 2023 to support and promote tolerance, dialogue, and inclusion.

DATE: 6-10 September 2023
PLACE:  Utøya, Norway
SHARE LINK: Read more on Linkedin

ECWT supported two young Ukrainian students Anastasiia K and Dariia Ch in the competition announced by the European Wergeland Center, based in Oslo, and they were among the lucky winners of “Youth Ambassador’s Borders for Making a Change” and participated in the youth exchange organized at the tragic historic venue of Utøya in Norway the 6-10th September 2023 to support and promote tolerance, dialogue, and inclusion. The exchange aims to better know how we can work with inclusion and collaboration in practice. The training was facilitated by trainers from the EWC with extensive experience in education for human rights, democratic citizenship, and intercultural understanding.

Since the 22nd of July 2011, Utøya has been rebuilt as a commemoration- and learning center. More than 10,000 young people come to Utøya every year to take part in educational programs, seminars, conferences, and summer camps.
The impressions and takeaways from the event are shared here

Through the training course, participants have …

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  • exchanged experiences and learned how youth participation can be real and meaningful
  • been introduced to concrete experiences from Poland, Ukraine, and Norway on how young people can be active citizens
  • learned new strategies and tools to facilitate intercultural dialogue and promote inclusion to strengthen resilience to crisis and conflict
  • learned how stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination function and identified the most efficient ways to challenge them
  • been introduced to concrete tools to combat discrimination, facilitate intercultural dialogue, and promote inclusion to prevent conflicts in their local and national contexts.

About Utøya – Utøya is a small Iceland about one hour from Oslo.
On the 22nd of July 2011, a right-wing Norwegian extremist killed 69 people at Utøya, most of them young people attending the Norwegian Labour Party Youth’s summer camp. The terrorists asserted that people with different cultural backgrounds cannot coexist in society and promoted the conspiracy theory that Europe is slowly being taken over by the Arabic world. Today, Utøya is an arena for people who work to make the world a better place. Utøya is today a remarkable example of young people’s response and resilience to terror and violence. Utøya carries a strong testimony of why values such as tolerance, equality, and diversity cannot be taken for granted, but need to be promoted and practiced in everyday life. For this to happen there need to be more places for people to meet, not less.

 EVENT: 2nd DISCO Partner Meeting 26-28 April 2023, Lucerne

Description: Bohdana Huriy, Founder and CEO of RECOVERIES was one of the winners of the 2023 year´s BREAK Fellowship, operated by EOI and funded by the European Commission. This interview was done by Eva Fabry, Director of the European Centre for Women and Technology.

DATE: 20 June 2023
PLACE:  Spain
SHARE LINK: Read more on Linkedin

The prestigious BREAK Fellowship is operated by EOI (Escuela de Organización Industrial), the first business school founded in Spain in 1955. Today EOI is a public foundation attached to the Spanish Ministry of Industry and BREAK is funded by the European Commission. BREAK provides a once-in-a-lifetime journey to join the international network of 1,000 women entrepreneurs, develop key skills, boost startup business, and immerse in a 27-day work retreat in Spain.

The value of the fellowship is € 7,000 including travel and accommodation, training, mentoring, culture, and networking events. Throughout the years BREAK has promoted +80,000 entrepreneurs and SMEs. More than 84,500 executives and business managers specializing in leadership, internationalization, and sustainability have attended the BREAK programs.

1) Bohdana, could you please first present your start-up and its progress in 2023?

Recoveries”, is an innovative virtual platform addressing the limited health services available for Ukrainian refugee women in Krakow, Poland, and Europe, and providing the latest comprehensive solutions …

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(crucial information, advisory support, and mental and physical health recovery guidance) through intelligent recovery assistance specifically targeting the needs of these women. The hybrid model includes a free basic version supported by advertising, a self-funded concierge service, externally funded development, and third-party payer options. Recoveries strive to become the preferred choice for health-related information and guidance, filling a crucial gap with no existing market actors offering comparable functionalities.

2) At what phase of launching your start-up do you think a fellowship like BREAK is of the biggest added value?

When I received the “BREAK” Fellowship, Recoveries, was a registered start-up with well-developed ideas marking the beginning of the implementation phase with a focus on prototyping. The host organization, CISE, provided valuable consultations to enhance Recoveries’ services, particularly in participant outreach and engagement target groups. Despite this progress, practical endeavors such as advertising development, securing a social media marketing specialist, and product testing couldn’t receive consultancy, as we had not started selling services and operating in the market with a specific customer base. So my answer is that being in the prototype phase the added value of the BREAK Fellowship can be probably maximized.

3) What do you see as the key challenges for women entrepreneurs today?

Women continue to navigate predominantly male-dominated work environments, facing restricted opportunities and influence. This environment acts as a barrier to women’s creativity and innovation. Women need to establish structures, networks, alliances, and organizations that serve as catalysts for unlocking their full potential. While women often find their way into traditionally male-dominated business sectors, fostering networks tailored to their needs would enable them to operate within a supportive framework, eliminating the need to break through or engage in constant battles for their place. Creating such environments is not just about overcoming challenges but empowering women to thrive and contribute their unique perspectives without unnecessary obstacles.

4) How would you define the three key attributes of successful women entrepreneurs?

  • Passion for the Business: Successful women entrepreneurs are deeply passionate about their business and the ideas driving it, fueling their dedication and resilience.
  • Continuous Self-Development: They are committed to ongoing personal and professional development, continually seeking ways to improve their skills and adapt to changing market trends.
  • Business–Life Balance: Striking a balance between work and personal life is crucial. Successful women entrepreneurs prioritize this balance, ensuring satisfaction in both aspects of their lives for sustained success.

5) How would you summarize your personal experiences in the Framework of the BREAK Fellowship?
In what way have you profited most?
The journey was genuinely incredible and brought about significant changes and transformations that continue to resonate within me.
During my time in Spain, I understood that women truly possess a remarkable power, and I felt this firsthand during my stay. The first two weeks were filled with empowerment as 14 entrepreneurial, self-confident women surrounded me. These moments were unforgettable, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have experienced such a fulfilling atmosphere. It was not about competition or achieving individual goals; it was a nurturing environment where we shared positive experiences, cared for one another, and experienced personal growth together. As a result of this experience, I have returned home with numerous thoughts and a desire for personal and professional transformations. I have predominantly worked in male-dominated environments before, but now I realize that they do not foster creativity or growth, and I am no longer happy in such settings. Thanks to my experiences in Spain, I have become more oriented in working with women’s vibes and energy. I am now eager to explore opportunities that will allow me to grow personally and professionally.

6) As one of the BREAK Ambassadors and active members of the BREAK Community what three advice would you like to give to women you are mentoring in the framework of the DISCO Project co-financed by the HORIZON Europe Program?
1. Seek out and actively participate in women’s communities and groups to build a supportive network and gain valuable insights.
2. Explore avenues for achieving independence in your work schedule to create the flexibility needed to develop your business.
3. Embrace continuous learning and stay updated on your field’s latest trends, technologies, and opportunities to enhance your skills and knowledge.

 EVENT: Interview with Bohdana Huriy, BREAK FELLOWSHIP AWARD WINNER 2023

Description: The DISCO Innovation Lab´s 2nd Partner Meeting in Lucerne provided a fascinating platform for exploring innovation, education, collaboration and future research directions.

DATE: 26-28 April 2023
PLACE: Lucerne, Switzerland
SHARE LINK: https://ecwt.eu/portfolio-item/disco/#Disco-Up01

HLSU – Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts hosted the 26-28th April in Lucerna the second Partner Meeting of the HORIZON EUROPE – EIT Climate KIC cofinanced project focused on encouraging more collaboration in innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education in Poland, a Switzerland, Norway, Ukraine.

After an introduction to the two flagship departments of the university: the School of Engineering and Architecture, and the Knowledge and Innovation Transfer (KIT) Department, the partnership discussed innovative teaching spaces and methods (e.g. adapting COIL – Collaborative International Online Learning in their collaboration) and ways of integrating innovation and entrepreneurship education into study programs.

Eva Fabry and Dimitris Raftopoulos (ECWT) highlighted the importance of gender-related research and shared their experiences with the Greek Innovation Lab for Women with the …

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… Greek Innovation Lab for Women (a joint institution of the Greek Ministry of Labour and ECWT joined until now by 16+ public, and private institutions, universities, and academia as well as NGOs from all around Greece). The presentation was followed by a World Café session moderated by Professor Stephanie Kaudela-Baum (HSLU) – opening up for a broader dialog and preparing for the launch of a DISCO Gender Observatory in 2024.

The group visited also Hergiswil, where Magdalena Herová (HSLU) spoke about the fascination with outer space in education and the importance of motivating and educating future generations of engineers, innovative entrepreneurs, and scientists. Participants visited the International Space Station’s communication room (see photo). The presentations were followed by discussions and lessons-learned sessions exploring future research questions and new funding opportunities from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) and the EU. Overall, the DISCO Innovation Lab in Lucerne provided a fascinating platform for exploring innovation, education, collaboration, and future research directions.

DISCO Partners include Krakow University of Economics (Lead Partner) and Malopolska School of Public Administration (Poland), The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (Switzerland), The European Centre for Women and Technology (Norway), Lviv Polytechnic National University, Sumy State University, The Association of Innovative Space Clusters of Ukraine and International Cyber Academy (Ukraine).