In this very special format, successful entrepreneurs and business leaders shared their own personal success story and experiences in small circles with young and creative festival participants.
The EYA Festival was held in Graz this year from November 30 to December 3, 2016 to honor the winners of this year’s European Youth Award. Inspired by the motto “D(r)ive deep digital,” the international EYA community met for four intensive days in Graz to exchange creative digital ideas for improv- ing society.
The extensive program consisted of winning presentations, workshops, keynotes and the traditional “EYA Campfire.” Other Festival highlights included interactive World CafeÌs on “Virtual and Augmented Reality Improving Society” with Michael Putz (bongfish) and other VR/AR experts.
One morning long, concepts were developed for creating value for society with VR and AR. The idea of “A day in my religion” emerged, using VR/AR to understand religions and cultures from the inside. The internationally acclaimed speakers, Eleanor T. Khonje and Paul Hughes, inspired and motivated a festival participant to say: “I think they changed my life”.
The winning projects: 13 digital start-ups from all over Europe from Italy to England, from Sweden to Serbia were invited to Graz to present their projects to more than 300 international guests and the festival jury. Topics were diverse: one project links generations, another offers a gadget for urban navigation on bicycles, while another helps in the search for part-time jobs. However, they are all characterized by social commitment and technical excellence.
The winning project: The EYA Young Digital Champion for 2016, was selected on the basis of the 13 winners’ presentations. Abdulrahman AlAshraf convinced the 16 international experts of the festival jury with FreeCom.
This is not only a crucial tool in war regions, but can also help in places without internet. Abdulrahman AlAshraf is himself a Syrian refugee now living and studying in Germany. His personal life history led him to recognize the need for and to implement such an application. The jury found the project particularly praiseworthy for using existing technologies and addressing contemporary social problems.
The fact that the application is introduced into the technology itself and does not have to be downloaded via an app store was the key reason for declaring FreeCom as the overall winner. Juror Georg Steinfelder says that the project is “a wonderful approach and a nice alternative”.
More than 300 participants from business, politics and science made the Festival a bubbling cauldron of digital ideas. Students from 10 European countries added their feedback to the winning projects and also participated in the EYA Festival.