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City Incubator

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The challenge the city Ljubljana wanted to address was how to approach young people who have ideas. What works well, and what could be even better? City Incubator is a programme for the implementation of the ideas of young people in Ljubljana. It is a sustainable tool for implementation and co-financing of local youth initiatives. Individuals or groups may put ideas forward and in the frame of the programme, they receive professional support for the fine-tuning, and financial support for the realisation.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

City Incubator represents an implementation of one of the measures to increase the support to young peoples’ initiatives, included in the Strategy of City of Ljubljana for Youth 2016-2025. It was developed and first put into practice in 2016 by Public Institution Young Dragons in co-operation with NGO TiPovej!

The innovation addresses young people who have ideas on how to increase the quality of life in the city, and who wish to be actively involved in the life of the city. The city Incubator asks a simple question: What works well, and what could be even better?

City Incubator is a sustainable tool for implementation and co-financing of local youth initiatives. Individuals or groups may put ideas forward and in the frame of the programme, they receive professional support for the fine-tuning, and financial support for the implementation.

Taking into consideration the specifics of youth, a lot of thought and effort was put into answering following questions: How to approach young people? How to activate them? How to support them toward the realisation of their idea? How to empower them, so that when they stumble on the way, do not give up, but rather learn something from the experience and try a second or a third time?

To give it a space, City Incubator was thought to be an opportunity to support initiatives suggested by young people active in the youth centres and those who were not (yet) visitors of the youth centres. Thus youth centre becomes a place that offers to youth resources for creation, challenges for getting experience, opportunity to prove themselves and a chance to lead their own project. All this develops competences that increase employment opportunities.

Programme of City Incubator includes:
- 9 hours of working with professionals for the realisation of ideas;
- 5 individual hours with very experienced mentors (carefully selected matching with the needs of young people and their idea in mind);
- For selected 10 projects at the end of the training process from 200 € to 1.000 € financing for the realisation of the idea.

Young people are invited to propose their ideas that address the following issues:
- Ljubljana is a green capital (ideas that promote sustainable living);
- Youth for youth (co-create a programme and activities for young people);
- Intergenerational co-operation.

Young people at first apply with an idea, which they later fine-tune through the workshops, discussions and fun activities of the programme. Than a committee selects 10 of them, who are ready for the implementation. This takes place in collaboration with other public institutions founded by the City of Ljubljana and with NGOs for youth.

Criterion for the selection is as follows:
- feasibility of the proposed project;
- positive effects for the city;
- applicability of the project;
- motivation of the applicant.

By now, two full cycles have been realised.
In 2016:
- Marko Klemen: My Kleče. My Savlje. (pocket map for the promotion of one of Ljubljana districts);
- Sara Lucu: Stage connects – summer theatre gatherings (cross-generational connections through theatre performance);
- Nejca Vašl in Miha Miklavčič: Urban sculptures (polygon for daily skating in the city).

In 2017 (8 projects, currently being implemented):
- Anita Volčanjšek: From Ljubljane to Tirane (social and charity rally);
- Doroteja Mesarič: With playing into sport (sport workshops for learning about different sports);
- David Velkovski: Street football of Slovenia (non-competitive and creative street football);
- Lana Urbančič Rak: Legend of dragon and terragon (connecting the dragon of Ljubljana with culinary experience);
- Maša Cvar: Social game What Makes me Happy (informative card game for fun and for learning, connecting personal interests with the city);
- Maja Krnaič: Communicating without keys (campaign for alternative free time activities);
- Staš Kramar: Studio Basement (project for sound isolation of the existing musical studio);
- Zoran Fijavž: Rainbow rhetoric (cultivating empowerment skills for youth LGBTIQ+ persons).

The plan is to continue the implementation and to get more public institutions and companies involved. We wish to build a bigger pool of mentors and to adapt the future challenges to the real needs of the city and youth living here. Future challenges are (and will be) communicated in regular consultations with youth in the process of the evaluation of the city strategy for youth and in the Network of Youth Centres of Ljubljana (that now involves 12 youth centres managed by public institution Young Dragons (4) and NGOs).

Innovation Description

What Makes Your Project Innovative?

This is a new tool for Ljubljana. Project allows the development and the realisation of ideas of young people, who are not organised in the frame of organisations, associations or other formal groups. Young people in the process of writing the Strategy of the City of Ljubljana 2016 – 2025, proposed it. City reserved funds for the implantation of it in the frame of public institute, which was founded with an aim to develop and run activities for young people.

What is the current status of your innovation?

The City Incubator is an on-going activity. Each implementation is a circle that starts with call for proposals of ideas and continues with the training programme for fine-tuning the ideas. After that, assessment and selection of 10 projects follows and then the implementation of the projects. Every cycle is evaluated with the young people and mentors. Each new circle is planned with relation to actual topics relevant for the city and young people.

The City Incubator connects business sector, NGO, public companies and institutes with young people with ideas for better society.

Each cycle is evaluated, and findings are brought forward to the next cycle.

The programme is being presented as a good practice in different frameworks (magazines, conferences, meetings).

Innovation Development

Collaborations & Partnerships

The idea to develop a programme was stated in the Strategy of the City of Ljubljana for Youth 2016-2025 that was adopted by the City Council at the end of 2015. The programme was developed, based on previous experiences, by the Public Institute Young Dragons and a NGO TiPovej!

In the phase of realization of the youth project more companies (public and private) public institutes and NGOs are involved as incubators for developing of project ideas and as supporters of young people with ideas.

Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

Youth - new knowledge how to move from wish to ideas and to the project. Experience, financial and mentor support for realization of the project and social network.

Local communities and citizens - services, products that aim at increasing social cohesion.

Companies, NGOs - opportunity for working with innovative youth and learning from a different perspective. New programmes, services and products.

City officials - the insight into the lives of youth and ideas for better city.

Innovation Reflections

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

1. 11 projects of young people in 2 implementation cycles
2. developed programme of workshops and mentorship
3. Networking of 20 companies and NGOs
4. Pool of mentors (18)

Evaluation was done by the questionnaires and interviews with young people, trainers who delivered workshops and mentors. The results of evaluation were taken into consideration for preparation of second cycle but anyway the feedbacks from anybody involved shows that the instrument is educational and interesting for making changes in the city.

The most important sign of the success of the process is the feedback of the special committee that evaluated and select young people’s projects.

We plan to continue with the next development cycles and we believe that we will increase the number of projects and young people involved and the number of companies and public institutions involved.

In the future, tool can be used to address one concrete challenge of the city.

Challenges and Failures

Today, because young people are bombarded with too much information, it is challenging to find right channels to address young people with ideas. Partly we found solution in the promotion through the Network of Youth Centres of Ljubljana and through street youth workers. We also promoted City Incubator through monthly newsletter Ljubljana, Youth Information Network L’mit and among NGOs.

The second challenge is how to involve more companies and NGOs and how to make them see the projects of young people as opportunity and not just as additional work. We would like to achieve that young people are recognized as agents of changes and solutions.

For some young people it is crucial to get a more intensive (personal and professional) support for realisation and sustainability of their project. This is another challenge.

Conditions for Success

- Support of city administration (recognition of importance of programme);
- Human and financial resources (pool of mentors, finances for longer support);
- Motivation of the project group.


So far some other municipalities have expressed their interest for the project. We are already sharing our methodology and experience with them. We present the project as good practise example at different meetings and conferences on local, regional and national level. The project was recognised as especially interesting by National network of youth centres MaMa.

Lessons Learned

We believe in young people and their potential that they can develop solutions for challenges of the local communities and city nowadays. They just need to get space, knowledge and trust.


  • Implementation - making the innovation happen
  • Evaluation - understanding whether the innovative initiative has delivered what was needed
  • Diffusing Lessons - using what was learnt to inform other projects and understanding how the innovation can be applied in other ways

Innovation provided by:


Date Published:

5 November 2016

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