Innovation & youth entrepreneurship In the Mediterranean agro-food sector
I have the pleasure to inform you that the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic
Studies-CIHEAM Bari is launching a high-level international training course on
"Innovation & Youth Entrepreneurship In the Mediterranean Agro-Food Sector"
According to the CIHEAM strategy and UN development goals, the training course is aimed at sharing
methodologies and tools to support youth entrepreneurship and job creation, to boost innovation in the agro
food sector, and encourage the formalization of the establishment of start-ups and micro-small enterprises
and their growth. As a priority, every effort shall be made to reduce unemployment, in particular of young
people, to alleviate poverty and improve living conditions of rural communities to counter depopulation of
The proposed training (see attached document) is intended to empower the younger generation and improve
their employability opportunities by promoting their active involvement in the economic development of
their regions. The course will enhance youth entrepreneurship and innovation skills, · foster the sense of
responsibility through social entrepreneurship and innovation in order to make young people able to: i)
improve entrepreneurial culture; ii)contribute to the design, development and implementation of innovative
projects within existing enterprises and organizations; iii) launch new business initiatives (start-ups); iv)
provide consultancy services to promote the introduction of business innovation processes and methods
The course will be mainly addressed to graduate students, young researchers, extension agents, civil
servants, professionals in agriculture and rural development from Mediterranean countries -Morocco,
Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Turkey, Albania - and Sub-Saharan countries - Ethiopia,
The course is due to start on 16 September 2019and will last for ten weeks. It will be in English and will
be held at the CIHEAM Campus in Bari, Italy.
It will be supported by high level international teachers, instructors and experts of the agro-food sector, start
up & business management, agro-food innovation and social innovation.
A learning-by-doing approach will be adopted, and the training module will provide an excellent balance
between theory and practice. The master course will balance face-to-face lectures, teamwork and practical
work using the technological facilities available at CIHEAM Bari-MEDAB incubator. The strong
collaboration with various enterprises and organizations (mentorship, technical visits and project work),
including start-ups, will be an additional advantage of the course.
Upon completion of the 10-week training, a Certificate of Attendance will be issued and 20 ECTS credits
awarded. These credits will be recognized to participants for their use in further training at CIHEAM Bari.
Finally, I ask you to nominate 4 candidates out of which only 1 or 2 will be selected to participate in the
course. The whole expenditure will be covered by CIHEAM Bari.
In order to accomplish all necessary procedures ( online application, selection and visa), please send us your
nomination priority list no later than 12 April 2019.
Ø According to the ILO’s Global Employment Trends for Youth 2017 report, the Middle East
and North Africa regions continue to show by far the highest youth unemployment rates
(30.4 and 29.0%, respectively, in 2016) and they have continued to worsen since 2012,
particularly for young women. Furthermore, under-employment, informality and vulnerable
employment are the reality for a growing majority of the young workforce.
Ø The innovation capability of MED countries, and in particular those of the southern shore
of the Mediterranean, is very low: most of them are ranked between the 62
position of the Global Innovation Index (2018), mainly for the poor private investment
capacity that hardly finances innovation processes in the absence of public support.
Ø Based on a Former Trainees Network (FTN) follow-up research study regarding topics to
be included in Education/Training programmes of CIHEAM Bari, former students express a
preference for: i) Innovation and entrepreneurship; ii) Collaborative leadership for
sustainable change; iii) Business planning; iv)Start-up and self-entrepreneurship v)
University career day and involvement of companies and businesses.
Ø MEDAB, the Mediterranean Incubator for business creation and change in the agrofood
sector, promoted by CIHEAM Bari with the aim of transferring knowledge and skills on
the entrepreneurial culture to young innovators of the agro-food sector, has
"accompanied" about 120 young innovators in developing around 40 business projects since
2015. MEDAB is a place to provide concrete support to innovators in the agricultural and
food sectors, more specifically to students with a new start-up idea. It is a space where ideas
are validated before being turned into concrete projects. It is not just a simple incubator but
rather a genuine experimentation lab where training is coupled with experimentation
through laboratories and rapid prototyping facilities. where youngsters and other innovators
can test the technical feasibility and the financial viability of entrepreneurial projects.
MEDAB is a space that fosters open innovation processes between regionally and
internationally-based companies and young start-ups, a special place for absorbing and
disseminating topics related to innovation.
Through the organization of series of meetings, MEDAB keeps the debate around the future
of the agro-food sector very much alive within its community and with the most relevant
actors of the Mediterranean region. The addressed topics focus on:
i) The constant and daily transformation of the agro-food sector as a result of
technological progress and social changes;
ii) The new trends affecting the agro-food sector;
iii) The mapping and need to establish very good relations with the organizations that
are changing the world both locally and internationally.
MEDAB’s general objective is to implement concrete and effective support measures to the
innovative processes that enterprises and start-ups constantly face, through the supply of
qualified innovation-based incubation services including: coaching, partnership building,
skill development and networking with building institutions, enterprises and all actors of the
Ø The Mediterranean Innovation Partnership Network (MIP) was created in 2016. It is
coordinated by CIHEAM-Bari, networking institutions of 8 Mediterranean countries
(Albania, Algeria, Jordan, Palestine, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia) and two
international organizations (ICARDA and EMUNI) committed in sustaining youth
entrepreneurship and technology transfer in the agro-food sector. The network intends to
involve all interested partners engaged in innovation and knowledge transfer. It promotes
innovation in the agro-food sector and favours sharing, cogeneration and knowledge transfer
for entrepreneurship creation and innovation. Another important initiative of the network is
the construction of an international MIP platform (mip.iamb.it) aimed at expanding the
exchange and sharing knowledge and skills at the Mediterranean level. MIP intends to build
a Mediterranean Ecosystem for a new vision of "Mediterranean start-up". One of the most
relevant activities of the network is the organization of training for business incubators’
Ø In 2017 CIHEAM Bari, in collaboration with LUM University, in the framework of its
Master courses organized and managed the training module “From birth to development
of an entrepreneurial idea: the culture of enterprise to manage innovation processes”.
Around 40 students attended the course and proposed 12 innovative entrepreneurial ideas.
2 Teaching methodologies
A learning-by-doing approach will be adopted, and the training module will provide an excellent
balance between theory and practice. The master course will balance face-to-face lectures,
teamwork and practical work oriented to the elaboration of innovative and entrepreneurial projects,
from the design to the validation of innovative solutions, prototyping and market testing, using the
technological facilities available in MEDAB. They will be developed throughout the course
(entrepreneurship laboratory) and further explored and supported by the placement of participants at
partner organizations for the preparation of a business project.
Letups and events will also be organized to introduce the participants to new innovative start-ups
and to successful companies in the agro-food sector, in order to foster inspiration through storytelling
and the analysis of the best practices. The close collaboration with enterprises and
organizations (mentorship and technical visits), including start-ups (to stimulate peer to peer
reviews), represents one of the main advantages of the course.
These entrepreneurial projects will be carried out through the establishment of teams who work side
by side with external companies, experts (mentors) and the MEDAB coaches.
The e-learning platform of CIHEAM Bari (LMS) will be used throughout the duration of the
course. This will facilitate teamwork through sharing documents and project works and will create a
community among participants, lecturers, start-ups, partner organizations and other interested
stakeholders. This tool will be used as a repository of documents (to keep the record of the progress
of the entrepreneurial projects) and will contribute to create a real community through the forums
and chat functionalities.
The proposed methodology has the objective of ensuring support to the various teams at any stage
of the start-up creation, from ideation to validation, from design to start-up.
Lectures and workshops will be complemented by activities carried out by mentors and coaches,
experts with different backgrounds, with the aim of enlarging the vision and broadening prospects
of the students to encompass different specialized points of view, to inspire and guide them through
a unique personal and customized experience, combining fun and knowledge.
Much space will be devoted to the initial phases of start-up creation: the ideation phase, intended to
free entrepreneurial intuitions. The teaching methodology will be based on the analysis of very
important data highlighted by CB Insight
, reporting the main reasons of start-up failure, and on
agro-food SMEs needs.
The methodology will be based on the most innovative techniques and tools that are used in the
fields of service design, design thinking, trend-watching, lean start-up, growth hacking and brand
identity, which are capable of creating memorable and successful experiences.
3. Course proposal
Within this framework, CIHEAM Bari proposes to improve and expand its educational/training
opportunities, launching a new high-level stand-alone specialized Training Programme on
Innovation & Youth Entrepreneurship In The Mediterranean Agro-Food Sector, keeping in
mind that many developing countries around the world need support in strengthening capacity
building and improving their territorial management skills.
Objective of the course
The focus of the training is to empower the younger generation and improve their employability
opportunities by promoting their active involvement in the economic development of their regions.
The course will enhance youth entrepreneurship and innovation skills, foster accountability through
social entrepreneurship and innovation in order to make young people able to:
The average rate of start-up failure is more than 90%. Indeed, the major reason for failure comes from the fact that
potential entrepreneurs waste time, mental energy, physical and financial resources without undertaking proper market
validation and, in the end, they have wasted resources on building products or services that have no real market. The
second reason for their early death is the "run out of cash" or the inability of these start-ups to intercept and manage
funds and money. The third one is the fact that teams very often are ill-assorted, causing dangerous strains on the
members. The team element, which is crucial for the success of a start-up, is too often neglected.
• Improve entrepreneurial culture;
• contribute to the design, development and implementation of innovative projects
(development of new products/services, adoption of new production processes, entry into
new markets) within existing enterprises and organizations;
• launch new business initiatives (start-ups), with a role in the development of the business
idea and its implementation;
• provide consultancy services to promote the introduction of business innovation processes
and methods (innovation brokers).
On completion of the training course, the students will have acquired knowledge skills (the
implementation of participatory approaches, team building and management, start-up design and
creation, support to innovation processes in agro-food enterprises in Med countries, social
innovation in the agro-food sector); practical skills (design and implementation of a start-up
project in the agro-food sector, organization and management of start-up companies, elaboration of
innovation projects (product/process) for agro-food enterprises based on needs analysis); personal
skills (working in multidisciplinary teams, management of working teams, participatory
• Working Language: English
• Duration: 10 weeks
• Number of participants: 12
The course will be mainly addressed to graduate students, young researchers, extension agents, civil
servants, professionals in agriculture and rural development from the following countries of the
Mediterranean region: Albania, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia,
Turkey, – and Sub-Saharan countries – Ethiopia, Kenya, Eritrea.
The training course will be organised according to the following weekly timetable:
a) Start-up & Business management (2 weeks)
b) Agro-food innovation (1 week)
c) Social Innovation in agribusiness (1 week)
d) Project work for a start-up creation in the agro-food sector (6weeks).
Each module includes both theoretical lessons and practical activities, the former to allow
participants to reach a common level of knowledge of the topics of the course; the latter are
organized to give them the opportunity to apply the concepts learned during the lessons in assisted
• Partners and collaborators may include, among others: MIP Network members, LUM
University, University of BARI, University of PISA, Politecnico di Milano, European
Business Network as well as public and private sector representatives(Confindustria,
Legacoop, Polihub, Fondazione Brodolini, Food innovation institute, Enlab Luiss);
• Participants will be selected between April and May 2019. They must have the right profile
and motivation to ensure that the learning outcomes are successfully achieved. After a preselection
of candidates in the countries of origin, upon nomination by the relevant
organizations, the final selection will be made by CIHEAM Bari staff through interviews by
• Students will access the course through scholarships;
• A monitoring and evaluation plan will help track and assess the results of the learning
activities throughout the life of the course;
• At the end of the course, students will have access to internships at companies and
incubators belonging to the MIP network.
A. Start-up & Business management (2 weeks)
In recent years, start-ups have grown rapidly and, in parallel, also the theme of open innovation has
involved corporations all over the world. However, the contamination between start-ups and
companies is still far from taking place: companies are requested to be more agile, less rigid and
with fewer structural constraints, based on leaner models and processes. On the contrary, start-ups
are increasingly requested to grow up quickly and become organized businesses. New competitive
games in the global economy are emerging following the ability to contaminate these two models.
This module stems from the awareness that the most successful start-ups are those having a lean
approach to business, and especially those where the initial idea of their success represents only 1%
of the start-up; the remaining 99% is execution. The secret ingredients for a perfect execution will
be studied in this section by exploring the methodologies and tools that lead to it. Case studies will
alternate with concrete project work focused on Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship. They
will lead the students through the entire process of creating a start-up from an idea.
The first part deals with ideas and creative imagination: discovering new ideas, new products, and
new services. The second one focuses on how to build a business (entrepreneurship), transforming
an idea into a product or service that creates value for others.
As students acquire these tools, they learn how to build a winning strategy, how to shape a unique
value proposition, prepare and validate a business model and, subsequently, a business plan, how to
compare their innovation to existing solutions, to build flexibility into their plan and determine the
best time to quit. Students conduct meetings with entrepreneurs who have launched successful startups,
an want to share their valuable insights with them.
At the end of this module, students will be able to: a) transform ideas into real products, services
and processes, by validating the idea, testing it, and turning it into a growing, profitable and
sustainable business; b) identify the major steps and requirements to estimate the potential of an
innovative idea as the basis of an innovative project; c) reach creative solutions via iteration of a
virtually endless stream of world-changing ideas and strategies, integrating feedback, and learning
from failures along the way; d) communicate and sell innovative ideas successfully.
• Start-up definitions, theoretical approaches;
• Definition of entrepreneurs, their role in innovation processes;
• Description of the main methodologies and tools for the creation of successful business
models: Design Thinking, Customer Experience, Blue Ocean Strategy;
• The development process of start-ups: the Lean Start-up methodology, Design Sprint, from
search (customer discovery) to execution (customer validation and company building);
• The definition of the strategy and the analysis of the competition;
• Business Model and Value Proposition;
• Business Model VS Business Plan;
• Digital Marketing and Communication Strategies (Growth Hacking as a useful ally for startups);
How to build a successful brand identity for a start-up;
• Human Resources Management: people organization, people recruiting, people
management, the importance of the team for a successful start-up;
• Soft skills for innovation: feedback, public speaking, time management and communication;
• The start-up ecosystem: the role of incubators/accelerators, Venture Capital, Business
Angels, crowd funding;
• Learning from success: best practices from successful start-ups;
• Learning from failure: a case where things went wrong;
• Testimonials of key ecosystem players.
B. Agro-food innovation (1 week)
To increase chances of success of a start-up it is crucial to acquire the relevant knowhow of the
market in which it will operate and to gain the ability to imagine future scenarios. Hence, this
module will analyse emerging technology trends, exponential technologies, new approaches to
managing the growing complexity that is affecting also the world of agriculture and food.
Participants will try to understand how Digital Transformation and technology are changing
existing business models and what types of start-ups are flourishing from this change. This teaching
unit will give students a set of competences and the right mind-set to operate successfully in a
complex environment, where increasing speed of change, uncertainty, the emergence of new
technologies and the broadening of global markets pose continuing challenges. We used to
recognize and manage innovation when it is driven by technology, whereas it is often the change in
the expressive languages and behaviour of the people that generate and drive change. This is
equally true in the agro-food sector and, today, innovation is hidden in the integration of all these
phenomena: this process is known as Design Innovation.
• New trends in the agro-food sector;
• Description of the techniques and methodologies to create innovative products and
services, to improve product performance and to design new services (Design
innovation for agro-food sector);
• Emerging technologies that are changing the way of doing business and the customer's
shopping experience: Digitization, Big Data, IoT, Artificial Intelligence / Machine
Learning, Virtual Reality;
• How to face innovation and new technologies: understanding the impacts and potentials
that digital transformation offers in building innovative business models;
• Knowledge transfer system, innovation chain and innovation broker’s role;
• Intellectual property and innovation management;
• Learning from success: best practices from successful start-ups;
• Learning from failure: a case where things went wrong.
C. Social Innovation in agribusiness (1 week)
In the field of rural development, a new concept of entrepreneur is emerging, namely an
entrepreneur who cares about the social capital present in his/her business and around him/her in
his/her local community of reference (common goods, material and immaterial collective heritage).
For this reason, the module gives the participants a chance to discover new approaches to the
creation and change of business, considering not only the economic-entrepreneurial dimension but
the social and environmental ones as well, by understanding how to produce benefits for the
community, protecting and enhancing the common goods and heritage (culture, territory, tradition,
Today, social innovation initiatives are proliferating and will become increasingly widespread in the
near future as a response to the multiple and growing challenges of the ongoing economic crisis and
the much-needed transition towards sustainability. In this field, agribusiness can play an important
• Theories and models of social innovation;
• Methods of analysis for the identification of social problems in rural areas;
• Design for social innovation in the agro-food sector: theories, methods and tools;
• Social innovation and entrepreneurship: new business management, marketing and
• Working with people and local communities: leadership, group management, Corporate
Sustainability, community engagement and management;
• Sustainability of social innovation: fundraising and financial instruments, crowd
funding, community public funds (calls and notices);
• Public policies for social innovation;
• Theories and methods for impact assessment: theoretical and methodological
approaches for measuring the impact of social innovation processes on local
• Meeting with social enterprises, community cooperatives and other organizations.
D. Start-up creation in the agro-food sector - project work (6 weeks)
Made aware of the fact that building a start-up means designing a valuable experience for their
customers thanks to a mix of service design, design-thinking, lean start-up, digital marketing and
branding, the students can apply the knowledge learned in the theoretical modules and practical
work to develop their business idea.
This module leads the students through the entire process of creating an entrepreneurial project
from the idea to its validation, implementation and market test. As students acquire these tools, they
learn how to distinguish bad ideas from good ones, they acquire skills to build winning strategies, to
shape unique value propositions, prepare business models and business plans. They will be able to
compare their innovative solutions with existing ones, building flexibility into their plans and
understanding when it is better not to pursue the business further. The interaction with
entrepreneurs who have launched start-ups, willing and able to share their precious insights with the
students, is crucial for the success of the course.
At the end of this course, attendees will have acquired a methodology that enables them to: a)
transform ideas into real products, services and processes, by validating the idea, testing it, and
turning it into a growing, profitable and sustainable business; b) carry out the process to identify the
major steps and requirements to estimate the potential of an innovative idea as the basis of an
innovative project; c) collect and integrate feedback, and learning from failures; d) apply
entrepreneurial tools to create business models; e) communicate and sell innovative ideas
Therefore, this module will be mainly based on teamwork assisted by mentors and coaches and in
close collaboration with agro-food companies. Furthermore, to support the development of the
business idea (innovative and entrepreneurial project), further lectures are planned.
• Identification of ideas and opportunities starting from customers’ problems and market
• Application of a complete process of lean start-up or sprint design approach to validate
the business idea (from Job to Be Done to Value Proposition through Customer
Discovery and Customer Validation);
• Application of digital marketing and growth hacking to test the market and generate
• Application of design thinking and service design to build a valuable experience;
• Application of the brand strategy to the business idea;
• Communicate the business idea: pitch presentation of the innovative entrepreneurial