Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Fragile Communities – Pilot training in Iceland

The Icelandic Regional Development Institute leads a 2 year European project INTERFACE in cooperation with University of Bifröst and partners from Bulgaria, Greece, Ireland and Italy. INTERFACE stands for Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Fragile Communities in Europe.

One of the project goals is to develop a curriculum and run a pilot training program based on a GAP-analysis  to support project managers and community leaders in fragile communities in their work on developing and empowering the communities.

The first module in a 10 module program was run in Borgarfjörður eystri in late August 2018. During the last seven months the community leaders have gathered in four fragile communities to have  working sessions in the defined INTERFACE modules, guided by Stefanía S. Kristinsdóttir on behalf of Bifröst University.

© Kristjan Halldorsson (KÞH)

Since then, most of the participants have met in Hrísey located in  North-Iceland, in Þingeyri located in the Westfjords and now, in Kirkjubæjarklaustur located in South-Iceland. Given the long travel distances and cost, not all participants have managed to attend all the four group session modules, however, the INTERFACE project partners are very pleased with the solid interest and attendance of coaches, both Fragile communities project managers and voluntary community leaders.

The first workshop was held in Borgarfjörður eystri in August 2018 where the participants were introduced to group coaching as well as a introduction day for the INTERFACE project was held. The second workshop was held in Hrísey in October 2018 where goal setting and personal coaching was on the agenda. The third workshop was held in Þingeyri in November 2018 with a continuation on personal coaching and community development. In Þingeyri participants also visited an art residency and got to meet a local community entrepreneur.

The final workshopof the INTERFACE pilot training was held in Skaftárhreppur on April 15th. During the workshop, 12 participants presented their fragile community and their final project, that covered preparation and implementation of a community workshop within their fragile community, using methods and tools used in the INTERFACE training. These methods include coaching approaches appropriate when working with entrepreneurs and community members, public participatory methods in facilitating workshops to create active and involved community members, contribution to policy development and innovation. 

© Kristjan Halldorsson (KÞH)

Most of the Icelandic participants are project manager of the Fragile community project inIceland. In the pilot training organizers at University of Bifröst and IRDIheld the modules in the participants communities, Borgarfjörður Eystri, Hrísey, Þingeyri and Skaftárhreppur. This opened up the opportunity for participants to get first hand information on local initiatives, entrepreneurs and environment.

In relation to the final module, participants prepared short CVs and descriptions of their communities, that will be paired up with photos taken of each of them during the session and published on the INTERFACE learning platform and coaches network site.