Making a space for new ideas

Järva Innovation Camp

”Thank you so much for today! This was such a great space to be in, the fact that my ideas matter and people were willing to listen to me was great” 


”Thank you for allowing me to be part of today, that you allowed me to come with my kids, made it possible for me to contribute my voice”

Järva Innovation Camp

ideation workshop for safer and more accessible cities


Thank you so much for today! This was such a great space to be in, the fact that my ideas matter and people were willing to listen to me was great


Thank you for allowing me to be part of today, that you allowed me to come with my kids, made it possible for me to contribute my voice

Products and services are supposed to reflect and appeal to the diversity in any given society. For this to happen the innovation processes that lead to said products and services need to be inclusive. The European Commission recognises that progress towards gender equality in Europe is slow, and in some regards ”key dimensions have worsened”. Funding for the EQUALS-EU programme recognises that more work needs to be done to ensure that women, and other minority groups can contribute to shaping their social enterprises and their digital futures.

EQUALS-EU is working to discover and nurture innovators in 25 countries, and focus is on reducing gender inequality in innovation spaces. To do this the programme requires all 25 countries to run hackathons or innovation camps. At these events, participants need only come with their lived experiences, because all other expertise will be nurtured through the programme.

Every consortium member had the opportunity to decide what theme to situate their hackathon or innovation camp around. For SPIDER as the organisation and consortium member representing Sweden, the theme ”safer and more accessible cities for all” was drawing on on-going projects that seek to make cities in developing regions smarter, safer, and more accessible with digital solutions. SPIDER partnered with Rinkeby’s Folkets Hus (RFH), in organising the Järva innovation camp, and the support and community engagement from RFH, made the event possible.

Invitation to participate called on everyone who identifies as a women from the age of 18, and non-binary persons to come spend a day ideating around how to make their city safer and more accessible for all. Reaching out to young women proved to be a challenge, when asked why they were not signing up for the event, we heard comments such as ”all I have is an idea” some of them asked if ”there really was space for young women to be innovative”.

On hearing this feedback, we reworked our communication campaign using slogans such as ”Your ideas matter”. The reactions from some of the young women we spoke to stress the importance of interventions such as the EQUALS-EU programme, that recognises the contribution that we can all bring to transforming our societies.

We launched an intense social media campaign with short and engaging films. We were also very inclusive with the languages choosing to promote the innovation camp in English and Swedish. We printed several posters that we posted in various parts of the city to attract participation. And we talked to people encouraging them to come and join us.

The prizes are a worthwhile investment, as they include a 6 months incubation programme, that will expose each country’s representatives to global experts in business entrepreneuship and other relevant subjects. The incubation period will be followed by a summer school in Spain, Switzerland etc, with the hopes of launching gender inclusive products, or services from each participant.

We decided to have the event on a Saturday and encouraged mothers to bring their children along. This increased participation, allowing 9 young ladies to join us on Saturday, some of them with their children, and SPIDER colleagues took care of the children allowing the mothers the space needed to ideate with their team mates. Hosting the event at RFH, also increased participation, and brought interest from different stakeholders from the community that were interested to learn more about the initiative.

We started the day with introductions, and then launched the innovation camp with some expert advise from the judges who took on topics such as what inclusive collaboration looks like. Participants were also provided with advice on ensuring that they keep an inclusive approach in mind when ideating around the theme, particulary think about how accessible the city is for people with functioning variations, how safe the city is for young women, older people etc. Finally participants were asked to look at their ideas with a gender lens, taking questions such as care responsibilities, and how they impact safety and accessibility in a city.

SPIDER guided the ideation process with fun and exciting activities that encouraged creative thinking. In the end some brilliant solutions such as creating an app for cleaner accessible and safer public restrooms, and consolidating various safety solutions in existence and adding new features to a dashboard were pitched to the Judges with resounding success!

Congratulations to all those who joined the Järva Innovation Camp!