This Is Aurora Ecosystem

Chiara Castelli
May 19, 2020 · 16 min read
Forest by Yegor Meteor

Rich and full of life, closely interconnected and in constant exchange. A forest.

Roots are common to all the entities who live this experience with us:

  • care for future generations
  • trust in entrepreneurship
  • monitoring of technological thresholds and cultural transformations
  • give-back and give-first
  • creation of intergenerational connections
  • love for the future

Each reality, following its original inspiration, contributes to the growth and protection of an ecosystem that works with 80,000 children every year, on the Italian territory.

Junior Achievement

Junior Achievement is the century-old sequoia of our forest.

An extraordinary source of inspiration for those involved in entrepreneurship, young people and education.

It began operating in the early 1900s in the United States of America, Springfield.

In those years JA taught those who had just arrived in the new continent to do business, even before they learned English. A forward-looking choice that created network, enriched the territory, generated positivity.

JA works with schools, from primary to universities. Its initiatives are concrete, they aim to offer real entrepreneurship experiences, without forgetting the importance of financial literacy and job orientation. A mix of technical and transversal skills which are meant to ensure a strong and concrete social impact.

JA programs are designed according to specific ages and needs:

Crescere che Impresa!

8,800 Italian students, over 385 classes: a free educational program of entrepreneurial education and financial literacy for children aged 11–14, created thanks to the support of Mediobanca Group.

An experiential and digital teaching methodology that brings young people closer to the concepts of savings and investment management.

Impresa in azione

“Impresa in azione” is among the experiences included in “Guidelines for the Pathways for Transversal Skills and Orientation”, recognized by MIUR.

It counts 16 editions, 3 of which are fully digital; 692 classes involved for a total of 14,000 girls and boys, 750 mini-businesses started with the help of over 400 Corporate volunteers: the most popular entrepreneurial education program in High Schools.

Idee in azione

The new teaching program of Junior Achievement Italia, launched in 2018.

It consists of four didactic modules on entrepreneurial education for students of the last three years of secondary school.

A stimulus to self-entrepreneurship for young people.

NEETs in Entrepreneurship – Match the Future!

JA felt the need to intervene also for social emergencies, launching many projects: from the integration of young migrants to the national emergency of young NEETs.


Project that aims to introduce entrepreneurship and civic education themes for primary school children.

In addition to the projects above, should be mentioned:

  • Sci-Tech Challenge
  • Innovation & Creativity Camp
  • Impresa in azione
  • Leaders for a Day
  • Entrepreneurial Skills Pass
  • Green Jobs
  • Teacherpreneur – The Entrepreneurial School
  • STEM Lab for Children
  • Io e l’economia green
  • Idee in azione per UPSHIFT

Fondazione Homo Ex Machina

Fondazione Homo Ex Machina stems from the desire to give something back and to give-first.

Its wide-ranging goal is to provide guidance and training to the under-25s, especially focusing on their emotional structures, that are fundamental for developing decision-making skills. Fondazione HExMa aims to train down-to-earth kids, but also kids who are able to look far away.

Boys and girls are involved in a bidirectional mentorship, of which former generations are the counterpart. An extraordinary breeding ground for ideas and far-sighted choices, where young people and industry leaders collaborate; where common sense and morality are applied to technology. Fondazione Homo Ex Machina generates educational moments that connect and create contamination between talent and growth opportunities.

Since 2014 Fondazione HExMa has been investing in youth entrepreneurship, with the aim of promoting economic, cultural and social development.

Its programs are:

  • 6 – 10 years: Summer School
  • 6 – 18 years: Tecnopia Award
  • 15 – 25 years: Transfer Leadership and “Breakfasts on Sustainable Development Goals”
  • 18–20 years: Aurora

Fondazione Mondo Digitale

Under the scientific direction of Alfonso Molina, former professor of Technology Strategies at the University of Edinburgh, Fondazione Mondo Digitale is a non-profit organization, which main objective is inclusion through robotics.

It works to combine innovation and education, without any kind of discrimination and with particular attention to the categories at risk of exclusion (elderly, immigrants, unemployed young people).

FMD offers an integrated research-action, development and implementation approach in its programs. A strategic aspect of its programs is «Phirtuality», that is, the integration of the physical and virtual dimensions in all the innovation processes promoted.

Projects involve many macro-areas: education for life, educational robotics, multisectoral network, smart specialization, social innovation and youth entrepreneurship, active aging and intergenerational solidarity, inclusion of immigrants and refugees.

Fondazione Golinelli

The Foundation is based in the Opificio Golinelli: an open ecosystem, which coherently integrates activities of education, training, research, technology transfer, incubation, acceleration, venture capital, dissemination and promotion of sciences and arts.

Fondazione Golinelli wants to encourage the possibility of integrating research, industry and market, focusing on young people and their ideas, scientific research and technological innovation.

Its approach is inclusive and multidisciplinary; it enhances the contamination between different skills, experiences and cultures: humanistic, technical, scientific, economic-financial.

In order to bring young people closer to the culture of business and innovation, the foundation has launched three projects:

  • “Giardino delle Imprese”, for the development of boys and girls of secondary schools soft skills;
  • “Icaro” Project, aimed at university students;
  • “Summer School Entrepreneurship in humanities”, an intensive thematic path, addressed to social studies students who wish to approach entrepreneurship.

Giardino delle imprese is an informal school of entrepreneurial culture.

Its goal is to enhance and increase personal qualities and propensities, to stimulate curiosity, creativity and passion; to offer concrete opportunities to test oneself and to materialize ideas.

Successful entrepreneurs and academics support students with training, project work, events and lots of practice to transform concrete experimentation into starting a business from scratch. The project is divided into 4 main phases: introductory training; project development; awarding of the most deserving projects; and, for the winning teams: training, mentorship and accompaniment to the further development of the idea.

ICARO is a program of 3 immersive workshops: training meetings, group work and discussions with companies.

It includes: Design Thinking workshops, to face the challenges proposed by companies; visits to the company, to get to know better the companies involved in the project; «lateral» inputs coming from the encounter with different personalities (artists, writers, sportsmen): precious moments of reflection and comparison.

Campus Party

An extraordinary partner, Campus Party organized more than 80 events in 13 countries worldwide over the years, involving over 3 million under-25s on cutting-edge technology themes.

Campuseros are a movement of dreamers, creators, thinkers. They set out to «destroy» and revolutionize the world, starting from original perspectives, in order to transform the present into a better future.

They are hungry for change and want the whole world to know about it. Campuseros created Campus Party to empower ideas, to build an extraordinary network and to collaborate actively.

Organizations are interested in receiving disruptive ideas that go beyond borders and safeguard fences. They need courageous young people, who exchange ideas, who think differently, who are ready to risk.

Giffoni Innovation HUB

Giffoni Innovation Hub is a dear and close partner, with fifty years of experience, who has dealt with creative industries and that specialized in innovation projects, especially designed for children, teenagers and families.

In particular with the “Dream Team” project, addressed to under30s who co-create open innovation projects with companies and institutions, it develops new solutions for today’s digital and social challenges.

Heroes Meet in Maratea

An unmissable event: innovation, business and future.

Over 2,000 international innovators and 200 speakers from all over the world meet in Southern Italy.

Heroes is the Euro-Mediterranean Innovation Festival.

It takes place every year in Maratea and involves the most inspired heroes of our time: business leaders, business angels and investors, creatives, policy makers and startups.

In past editions, it hosted Jeremy Rifkin, Perry Chen the founder of Kickstarter and Neil Harbisson, the first Cyborg man.

Kairos Society

Global Community of 300 under25 entrepreneurs based in NY. Kairos is supported by mentors such as Peter H. Diamandis, Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Bill Clinton.


VGen is a vast community of social and technological innovation, which aims to change the university mentality, opening new paths to the personal and professional path of each student.

The idea is to entrust innovation to new generations: ideas must come from them and those ideas must be transformed into practice within companies and startups.

VGen was born in October 2018 within the University of Rome «Tor Vergata».

In January 2019, the first VGen club opens in Milan, a team of students from the «Luigi Bocconi» University, supported by players from the world of innovation in Milan.

Today the community is present in Rome, Milan, Bologna and Singapore; and has over 250 members.

Associazione TechGarage

It is a non-profit association that values ​​entrepreneurial talent and innovation. Since 2008 it has been promoting the conversion of ideas and technologies into successful start-ups.

TechGarage’s mission is to spread the High-Tech Entrepreneurship, therefore it promotes every initiative that connects:

  • the world of grassroots innovation: teachers, researchers, students and innovators;
  • the world of early stage venture capital investors (business angels, independent seed and venture capital funds, formal or informal corporate venture capital);
  • the business world.

Its aim is to enhance and attract entrepreneurial talents and to contribute to the development of an attractive context for every form of hi-tech entrepreneurship.


Chosen by Facebook to create jobs in innovation and by the TV program «B Heroes» as one of the best 5 social impact startups in Italy, Start2Impact has also been selected by the European Commission as a Member of the Coalition for Digital Skills and Work .

It is a community known in every Italian region, which provides theoretical, practical training and job offers to pursue a career in innovation in over 200 startups and large companies; it brings together thousands of students and was able to create over 100 jobs in Digital Marketing, Programming, UX / UI Design and Artificial Intelligence in the first months of activity.

An open door on the hard skills of the future, supported by high-level teaching tools and constant support, especially for the benefit of young people without previous work experience.

A way to take careers that are not covered by the school and university; Start2impact has dozens of projects followed by professionals who give personalized feedback within 7 days: to discover passions and talents.

It gives children an opportunity to change their lives, learning and experimenting courageously; to inspire young people to solve the great challenges of humanity thanks to digital and innovation.

StartUp Day

StartUp Day is a key event for the Università di Bologna community, organized by Alma Mater in collaboration with Almacube.

An unmissable opportunity for youth entrepreneurship throughout Italy.

In previous editions it hosted over 8000 people with more than 1000 ideas proposed.

Within a day, startups, entrepreneurs, universities and the local area meet to develop business opportunities and share innovation strategies. Location: the historic Palazzo Re Enzo, in the heart of Bologna.

The result of shared work is the birth of the 30 most promising business projects within the Unibo community.


WeSchool is a classroom collaboration platform used by 120.000 Italian teachers.

It is a useful tool for studying online, following the lessons of the best professors.

Everywhere. At any time. For free.

Today more than two million students use WeSchool (formerly «Oilproject»), which hosts over 7000 lessons, ranging from Pirandello to chemistry, from Massimo Temporelli to Umberto Eco.

Startup Geeks

Startup Geeks is a community of entrepreneurs, born in 2019.

It aims to connect Italian startups with each other, stimulating their growth and enriching the entire ecosystem.

It’s a way to make startups internationally competitive.

Open Italy – ELIS

Open Italy is an innovation ecosystem.

Its goal is to launch disruptive projects to encourage dialogue and collaboration between large companies, Italian startups / SMEs and innovation enablers: research centers, venture capitalists and young talents.

Over time, it has built a «space» where heterogeneous stakeholders meet and work together to encourage the introduction and development of innovative solutions in the Italian economic system.

The broad objective is to spread an Open Innovation culture in Italy.

Open Italy was born within Consorzio ELIS, consisting of over 70 large companies, 20 Italian SMEs and university research centers.

The Consorzio’s goal is to encourage innovation thanks to coopetition, favorably impacting business and society.

Kilometro Rosso

Kilometro Rosso is one of the most important innovation districts in Europe.

A functional structure, a place of synergies between entrepreneurial activities, research centers, laboratories, professional services and advanced training.

By applying the Open Innovation model, it makes different skills work together to reduce development times and to encourage the introduction of innovative solutions on the market.

It promotes the growth of a district of knowledge, innovation and the most advanced technologies, feeding an ecosystem of cutting-edge companies, scientific institutions and laboratories.

Among the results obtained: 60 companies onboard; 23 R&D projects already funded; 1,700 employees and researchers; 2,000 scientific publications; € 105 million in funding for R&D projects; 120 Events per year.


ItaliaCamp is an impactful organization made up of a non-profit association and a company (for profit) which carry out social innovation projects together, generating value for people, communities and territories. The Association (network of professionals who put their skills at the service of «Country projects») holds 51% of the ItaliaCamp Company, while the remaining 49% is owned by leading companies on the national industrial scene (Invitalia, Unipol Group, Poste Italiane, RCS MediaGroup and Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane).

Since 2009 ItaliaCamp has been a pioneer in the field of innovation, defining strategies for the enhancement of social impact, creating and animating connection hubs and educating new generations to the jobs of the future.


YGA is a non-profit, non governmental organization founded in Turkey. At the heart of YGA’s vision beats the confidence for young generations to bring radical changes into the world, and for sciences to have a key role in designing a more sustainable, fair and equal future. Relying on a solid net of collaborations with schools and some of the leading universities in the world, YGA counts more than 50 thousands high school and university students applying every year.

During their journey in YGA, all volunteers take part in a social innovation program where they develop tech driven impactful projects in teamwork and receive training from YGA Dream Partners composed of scientists, academicians and senior managers, living a real atmosphere of vibrant energy, intellectual freedom and mutual discovery.

YGA Italy is currently working on education by promoting scientific outreach activities for kids in primary schools, and can already count on two active programs conceived to stimulate children to approach and become interested in STEAM subjects:

• As Twin we grow, where volunteers conduct scientific sessions in primary schools using Twin Science Kits.

  • Un due tre scienza: an online free scientific series designed for kids staying home during the COVID emergency.

House of Beautiful Business

The House of Beautiful Business is a membership-based global think tank and community. Through online programming, gatherings, media, and partnerships, they bring together business and nonprofit leaders, technologists, scientists, philosophers, and artists who share a common quest: to shape a more beautiful vision for the future of business, technology, and humanity, built on emotions, ethics, and aesthetics instead of efficiency, extraction, and exponentialism.

The Great Wave, their physical-virtual, local-global event, takes place online and offline from October 16–19 2020. It is a personal and collective learning journey featuring talks, performances, experiments, salon-style conversations, Ask-me-Anythings, deep dives, masterclasses and field trips.


Nova is the global by-invitation-only top-talent network that connects high potential individuals amongst themselves and with the best professional opportunities. Becoming a Nova member requires to be nominated and to pass a selection process which ensures that each member belongs to the top 3% of their field of expertise. Today Nova counts on 10.500+ members living across 70 countries and representing more than 30 industries.

Danish Startup Group

Danish Startup Group is a non-profit organisation based in Copenhagen. Their mission is to support early-stage entrepreneurs through a variety of events, workshops, learning activities and social networking opportunities within the startup ecosystem. They collaborate closely with other organisations, startups and companies within the danish startup ecosystem and provide a platform for upskilling and broadening your personal network.

Plug and Play Italy

Plug and Play is the world’s largest innovation ecosystem, connecting major corporations, world-class startups, and investors. Plug and Play counts on 30 international hubs, 1450 accelerated startups every year, 400+ corporate partners, and 250 early-stage investments just in 2019. Some of our most successful investments include Dropbox, Paypal, N26, SoundHound, and Lending Club, among others.

Plug and Play Italy opened in April 2019 in Milan, with an initial focus on Food (with Esselunga, Lavazza and Tetra Pak as founding Partners). Since 2020, it is running two more verticals in Fintech (Nexi, Ubi Banca, UniCredit) and Sustainability (Eni and Buzzi Unicem).

Beyond The Box

BEYOND THE BOX offers people and businesses an open, ethical, connected and inclusive market to access the competencies of others and share their own.
The company provides a brand new alternative to the hiring — training — salary — career process ruling traditional job market, introducing the “sharing competencies” model: “goal — reward — growth — sharing”.

OPEN option to not be hired for filling a job but for the GOAL achieved by doing activities. ETHICAL and fixed REWARD for an expert from the person he/she helped regardless of the organization he/she belongs to. INCLUSIVE exchange of information as the AI matching process is made between individuals irrespective of sex, age, race, disability, ethnicity, origin, religion, economic or other status: the network continuously and incessantly motivate personal GROWTH and enables knowledge transfer. Limitless SHARING of competencies being CONNECTED to the network.

To deliver and make such model available for people and organizations, BEYOND THE BOX developed the first interactive learning platform for businesses which connects managers and entrepreneurs to people’s specific competencies over a video call of 20 or 40 minutes to get help with their daily business challenges and learn trough interaction in an easy, quick and trustful way.


Prioritalia is a Foundation established in 2017 by Manageritalia and Cida in order to represent, promote and strengthen the civil commitment of the Italian management community.

Prioritalia creates connections between the corporate businesses and the community sector. Its members develop a strong and flexible network capable of being a bridge between the companies, the public administration and the third sector, to build sustainable and inclusive development models.

Through widespread partnerships, especially favouring innovators and pioneers, Prioritalia aims to bring together the doing business attitude with the giveback culture.

Prioritalia’s inner spirit is based on the idea of sharing experience and professional skills, in order to push an evolution towards three strategic directions: ethics and digital, civic leadership, sustainability education.

Prioritalia, within the ASviS — Alleanza per lo Sviluppo Sostenibile (Sustainable Development Alliance), has been leading the Working Group referring to SDG 16 “Peace, Justice and strong Institutions” of the UN Agenda 2030.

Urban Future

The URBAN FUTURE global conference is Europe’s largest event for sustainable cities. But it is also so much more than that: It’s a community of active, passionate, and visionary urban changemakers — we call them CityChangers — from all over Europe and beyond.

With the Young Leaders Programme, UFGC wants to give the next generation of CityChangers the opportunity to get connected, learn important skills, and strengthen their network to shape our cities for the better.


HEROES is the first Euro-mediterranean Co-innovation Festival that involves the most inspired (and inspiring) “heroes” of our times: world leaders, business angels, investors, intellectuals, creative and talented people, policy makers as well as the best mediterranean startuppers.
The three days event will host meetings, workshops and innovation laboratories below the magnificent Maratea Statue of Christ the Redeemer, over the dreamy inlet and an unpolluted nature. We have one great purpose: to give value to the ideas that aim at changing the world!


Conthackto is a volunteer initiative created by a group of under21 from all over Italy.
It offers a three-month experience to students aged from 14 to 18 years old,and its aim is the development of personal awareness and interdisciplinary skills for the participants.
The first part of the experience is focused on the individual growth. Indeed, it consists of works alongside a tutor from the Conthackto’s crew, e.g. people will be asked to meet experts and carry out small challenges that will take them out of their comfort zone.
In the second part, each student will be a member of a team and will work with an actual start-up or an association to achieve a concrete goal.

Our purpose is to contribute in the evolution of future education for the next generation.

Junior Achievement Alumni Italy

Junior Achievement Alumni Italy is a non-profit association that aims to promote the culture of youth entrepreneurship and leadership. Today more than 500 talents aging 18–25 are part of the JA Alumni network, which brings together the ex-participants of JA Italia’s educational programs from all around Italy. Being part of the association means to have access to incredible opportunities of networking, personal development and give back.
Many programms are promoted along with JA Italia, two above all: Leaders for a Day and Dream Coach Junior. Last but not least once a year, it is organized a weekend reunion for all the associates: the Alumni Camp, which usually involves many speakers and guests from the innovation and start up world.


Guilds42 is a digital learning platform that aims to certify, advise and guide:
- The younger generation trying to find their path in life in the new digital age
- Companies that need to create a new workforce, digital innovators prepared to work in their sector.
Guilds42 organizes workshops designed according to the model of the Renaissance workshops (Gilde Fiorentine).
Apprentices are supported and trained in the Workshop to develop skills through methodologies and operational models, testing their learning progress by managing projects of real companies which demand this service.
Here Garzoni, Artists and Patrons work together.

Digital Building Blocks APS

Digital Building Blocks APS is a social promotion association created with the aim of disseminating digital culture in companies and facilitating the training of managers to be aware of the potential of new tools and new methodologies.


YOURgroup was born in 2011, and in a very short time it has positioned itself as the first Italian C-Level operational advisory company, introducing the concept of Fractional Executive in Italy.

For each key area of ​​the company it offers operational support “on site” provided by a team of fractional managers with long business experience in leading companies. Its managers are selected through a complex internal process, consisting of five different interviews with senior partners and psycho-aptitude tests on “soft” skills (Big Five personality test). The attention in the selection of partners has allowed the company to create a real “hub” of skills, made up of 8 teams of highly motivated and coordinated specialists.


Repubblica@SCUOLA was born in 2008. A futuristic online newspaper experiment carried out by youths which has been awarded by the World Association of Newspapers, the global association of publishers, as “the best editorial initiative in the world in favor of teenagers”.
The platform for intellectual work and entertainment, involves about 277,000 children, 13,000 professors and 2,500 schools, and allows students to experiment with all forms of journalism during the school months, with weekly proposals for articles to write, captions, photos, in the student league.
It has prestigious collaborations with Comix, Imun, National Geografic, Msf, Intercultura, to name a few.
It promotes also school-work experience with a great interactive journalism course and also the prize “Atlante”, dedicated to teachers who, in fact, are the real hidden engine of the thousands of “editorial offices” scattered throughout Italian schools.

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Extraordinary young people and global opportunities


We are a non-profit Foundation who cultivates generations of young Europeans between 18 and 23 years. Our methodology pairs brilliant people with a well-resourced Ecosystem that enables them to succeed through concrete growth opportunities and to become the future Change Makers.

Chiara Castelli

Written by

Co-founder of Aurora, Head of Aurora Experience


We are a non-profit Foundation who cultivates generations of young Europeans between 18 and 23 years. Our methodology pairs brilliant people with a well-resourced Ecosystem that enables them to succeed through concrete growth opportunities and to become the future Change Makers.