Frequently Asked Questions
What is Innovation Journeys?
Innovation Journeys is an 8-week social innovation programme that accelerates products and services for a more inclusive city.
Twenty university students (local citizens) and twenty young newcomers (refugees, economic migrants, and asylum seekers) work with five local organizations to co-create innovative solutions for social inclusion and make access to education, employment and essential services in their city more user-centered and affordable for all.
Who is The LOOP?
The LOOP is a non-profit accelerator based in San Francisco. We work with partners around the world to design and implement city-based impact innovation programs, where local organizations with innovative solutions for social impact collaborate with university students. Together, they innovate on and accelerate products and services that tackle complex urban problems in their city.
What are the main objectives of Innovation Journeys?
Innovation Journeys has been designed to:
Transform the challenges posed by migration and economic exclusion into opportunities for a more prosperous and inclusive city.
Build a new generation of leaders (residents and migrants) for cities to reap the benefits of growing diversity in our cities.
Create a city-based ecosystem for social innovation including municipal Government, Civil Society, Academia, NGOs and the private sector.
What led us to the creation of Innovation Journeys?
There are five core beliefs that have motivated us to create the programme:
Unlocking the new generations’ potential is key to disruptive innovation and lasting change;
Diversity is a driver for innovation and prosperity;
Migrants are a resource for growth, rather than beneficiaries of assistance;
Integration of migrants is a two-way process entailing rights and obligations for both newcomers and hosting communities;
Cities are the best places to mobilize resources, promote policies, and create shared value in support of the integration between newcomers and long-term residents.
What type of solutions get acccelerated through Innovation Journeys?
Innovation Journeys accelerates products and services that:
Address one or more challenges faced by cities in connection with migration and social exclusion: access to housing, education, employment, financial opportunities and basic services, social isolation;
Are promoted by a city-based organization (a startup, a business, a nonprofit, a social entrepreneur, a branch of the local government, a municipal service company) or by a newcomer (economic migrant, asylum seeker or refugee);
Bring benefit to both newcomers and long-term residents;
Are innovative in nature: solutions that are either new to the city, or that improve existing products or services.
Who are the participants in Innovation Journeys?
Each Innovation Journeys cohort includes:
5 city-based organizations or newcomers with innovative solutions for social impact
20 young newcomers (economic migrants, asylum seekers or refugees) aged 19 to 29
20 university students or recent graduates aged 19 to 29.
How do University Students, Newcomers and Organizations collaborate during Innovation Journeys?
Our accelerator programs creates a platform for multidisciplinary teams of highly skilled youth, mentors and pro bono technical advisors to support place-based organizations and social ventures in developing new solutions for inclusion, economic sustainability and real social impact.
Each cohort includes five innovative solutions promoted by five different organizations. Around each solution we build an Innovation Crew that includes:
4 local students
4 young newcomers
2 technical mentors
All the members of the Innovation Crew (including the organizations bringing the idea) are selected based on the careful assessment of their personal, emotional and technical skills. The aim is to put together a group of people with both the skills and the spirit to successfully complete their innovation journey together.
What do the Crews do throughout Innovation Journeys?
Throughout the 8-week program, each Innovation Crew goes through an action-packed journey of problem exploration, empathy interviewing, product/service design, rapid prototyping and testing with real users.
Innovation Crews work both in the lab and out in the city towards answering questions like:
“What is the ‘right’ problem this innovative product/ service should be answering?” “Is this solution really innovative and will it make a change?”
“Should it be built?” If yes...“How might we bring our innovative product/service to pilot stage and be investment ready so it can improve the life of citizens?”
“Who are the people and the organizations we have to work with for our product or service to impact the problem we are trying to solve?”
In searching for these answers, Innovation Crews will redefine a more user-centered product/service, innovate on the business model, and explore new partnerships with the city’s stakeholders by using methods for system innovation like:
> Design Thinking
> Business Model Canvas
> Lean Startup
> Collective Impact
What are the expected results at the end of the 8 weeks?
At the end of the 8-week program, each Innovation Crew will have helped the local organization innovate on their idea, shown evidence that their solution is solving a real problem for inclusion, accelerated the idea so it is pilot ready, built evidence of a sustainable business model, secured buy-in from stakeholders so the pilot can be deployment ready!
The milestones will include:
Milestone 1: A user-centered rough prototype of the product/service that has been tested with real users, producing evidence on whether or not it represents a real solution for the target users and customers.
Milestone 2: A Validated Business Model providing evidence that the product or service can be economically sustainable, affordable for the target users, and that can create value for multiple city-stakeholders.
Milestone 3: An Impact Roadmap that identifies organizations and stakeholders to be involved, resources to be mobilized and actions to be taken for the product or service to be implemented and eventually scaled.
Do students or newcomers have to to pay to participate in the program?
Neither newcomers or students have to pay to attend Innovation Journeys. All costs will be covered through scholarships funded by the program sponsors.
What do students and newcomers gain by participating in Innovation Journeys?
A 2-month unpaid social entrepreneurial internship
A Certificate of completion
Network for your next job
“In demand” skills for business, innovation and negotiation by learning methods like Design Thinking, Lean Startup, Business Model Canvas, Collective Impact.
Which value does Innovation Journeys bring to the 5 participating organizations?
Acceleration of their products/services for city impact to pilot-ready stage through tailored support and mentorship
Opportunities to meet with influencers, executives, local city officials, high-level policymakers, and business leaders
Access to a diverse skilled talent pipeline
Increased visibility for their mission.
What makes Innovation Journeys different compared to other impact acceleration programs ?
1. we build cohorts of social entrepreneurs and organizations which are focused on refugee integration and social inclusion.
2. we are intentional not only in accelerating impactful ideas, but also in creating broad, cross-sector coalitions of stakeholders (including local administrators and civil society) that can scale the innovative solutions towards moving the needle of city development indicators.
3. we work across geographical regions with local partners that, year after year, will sustain the acceleration program continuously building on what they learn.
4. we don’t take equity from the companies we accelerate (we sustain our programs through sponsorships and fees for service).
5. we strive for maximum youth engagement (university students and recent graduates), because we have learned that MIllennials tend to be bolder, more purpose driven, more curious and more prone to collaboration than the previous generations.