Social+1 conducted impact evaluation and sociological research for Innovation Labs program. Innovation Labs is one of the most important pre-accelerators in Romania. The program targets students and graduates from technical universities and from communication, business and creative fields for the 3-month mentoring adventure of team work, intensive prototype development and mentorship, exploring Romania’s growing startup ecosystem. The participants are empowered to develop proof-of-concept solutions and products using cutting edge tech with the support of top mentors in the ICT and business industry.
The sociological research has brought contributions to change management by refining the program model and documenting the multiple resources needed to maintain program impetus. The main contributions of the sociological research over the 2015-2019 period consist of the following:
The sociological research provided practical insights in program design and implementation by:
- Monitoring participants’ satisfaction at the main program events, the Hackathon and Demo Day (through quantitative and qualitative research methods);
- Documenting the role of specific elements such as: program reputation, inception measures, mentor involvement and other elements in program strength and sustainability.
The sociological research provided a working estimate for the degree to which the program impacted young people’s tech entrepreneurial interests, culture and skills by:
- Assessing program impact on young people’s skills and career trajectory, through a quasi-experimental research design that compared LinkedIn profiles for program alumni in comparison with different control groups.
The sociological research provided an evidence base that strengthened Innovation Labs’ relationship with main partners and stakeholders by:
- Documenting the employability of IL participants in partner companies;
- Documenting the mentors’ motivation to participate in the program; – Documenting the main challenges experienced by ambassadors in their university context.
The sociological research contributed in consolidating the position of the Innovation Labs accelerator within the startup ecosystem by:
- Exploring the online visibility and success of IL startups;
- Developing an overview of European Union innovation ecosystem and assessing the business opportunities of young people in Romania compared with other European Union countries;
- Assessing the crowdfunding investment opportunities for technological products in Romanian context.
The sociological research enhanced the innovation focus of the program by:
- Documenting the vocabularies of innovation used by IL teams to talk about the products pitched in the Demo Day event.