Co-created in 2017 by UNDP and the Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab aims to establish a common agenda for countries in the Asia-Pacific region to empower and invest in youth, so that they can accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship. It is a multi-dimensional and multi-level response to tackle the challenges young people face by positioning youth front and center to find solutions to today’s most pressing problems.
Youth Co:Lab has been implemented in 25 countries and territories across Asia Pacific: Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Fiji, Hong Kong (SAR), Indonesia, India, Japan, Malaysia, the Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor Leste, Vanuatu and Viet Nam.
In India, the implementation of Youth Co:Lab is guided by the importance of bringing the efforts to promote youth-led entrepreneurship and social innovation to the national level. The efforts of UNDP and AIM, NITI Aayog are directed at supporting young people with an emphasis on the following overarching priorities: catalysing youth innovation, empowering young people through technology, fostering youth inclusion, promoting youth leadership, and promoting social entrepreneurship.
Launched in India in 2019, Youth Co:Lab focussed on identifying and scaling solutions on select SDGs - SDG 5 (Gender Equality); SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation); SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy); SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) ; SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and SDG 13 (Climate Action). Through a series of sub-national innovation bootcamps across India hosted at the Atal Incubation Centres, top 30 teams were identified. In preparation of the National Innovation Challenge and Dialogue (NICD), a National Springboard programme was conducted to better aid the teams with their business models. Top 4 winning teams were selected from NICD that are currently undergoing the Regional Springboard Programme. (add link: https://www.youthcolab-springboard.org/). Regional Springboard Programme is a follow up programme that provides a showcasing platform for young social entrepreneurs. It consists of mentoring sessions, design thinking workshops and training sessions to help young entrepreneurs scale their innovation!
This year, the theme will focus on youth led innovation for COVID-19 recovery to #BuildBackBetter on issues that are important, now even more so as COVID-19 has deepened inequalities impacting India’s SDG progress.
Youth Co:Lab India invites social enterprises and innovative non-profits that are 0-3 years old since registration. The founders/CEOs should be between the age of 18-29 years. Women/LGBT founders and founders preferred. Each presenting team should consist of a maximum of two members. Innovative ideas are also welcome! Best ideas will be a part of a YCL social innovation bootcamp that can help them understand the feasibility of their ideas better and set up an enterprise!
The best solutions will be showcased during a five-day National Innovation Challenge and Dialogue. This will include short term mentoring, peer to peer learning, a design thinking workshop with the teams pitching their final business model in front of a panel with key stakeholders. The Dialogue would also incorporate interactive sessions, fireside chats and panels.
The top 3 winning teams would also be a part of a 6 month long national springboard (incubation + acceleration) programme, while also being a part of the YCL Regional Springboard Programme with more than 25 countries’ teams participating. The winning teams will also receive prize money. The top 2 teams (from India) would attend the Youth Co:Lab Regional Summit in Malaysia next year to present in front of leading investors and corporate partners! The Youth Co:Lab Regional Summit provides young entrepreneurs with mentors, networking opportunities and access to learning and acceleration opportunities.