On Thursday, October 8th Cineca hosted a get-together to introduce garagErasmus’ Check-in Europe platform and their collaboration with Bestr, an online open badge system that valorizes soft skills, to various university affiliates. They talked about the term “ErasmusNess”, a word coined and presented by garagErasmus (in collaboration with university consortium Cineca), that represents resilience, versatility, and empathy, which is so valuable in today’s constantly changing, diverse job market. The idea developed as a way to give concrete value to the soft skills that Erasmus students across the EU acquire during their exchange experiences. With one third of employers across Europe struggling to find adequately qualified employees for their enterprises, garagErasmus is taking the pre-established network of international, adaptable Erasmus students and building an online platform to link employers, investors and Erasmus students in the same spot. Bestr will provide the concrete link between students’ skills and the Check-in Europe online platform. The event focused on the value of the Erasmus network from an entrepreneurial point of view. Future Food Institute founder Sara Roversi spoke about the impact and empowerment of young entrepreneurs, and the importance of connection and collaboration through networks to achieve success. She was followed by Marco Gay, President of the Giovani Imprenditori Cofindustria in Italy. A round table discussion in the afternoon hosted Erasmus Alums, garagErasmus representatives, as well panelists from Barilla and the University of Sapienza in Roma, all with the intent to talk about the advantages of the Erasmus Alumni network and the crucial role garagErasmus, Check-in Europe and Bestr will play in the employment and start-up communities. The Future Food Institute is excited to have collaborated with Bestr in the past, awarding participants in the Feeding Fair hackathon and Food Innovation Program fellows with skill badges in team building, hacking, leadership, design thinking and prototyping skills. We spoke with Simone Ravaioli, international business developer for Cineca and Bestr, about the goals of the garagErasmus initiative. “Erasmus is a life changing experience. Erasmus alumni have a very strong sense of belonging to the Erasmus community, and there is a high level of empathy, and that keeps the community together,” says Simone. “GaragErasmus is an initiative to bring together the Erasmus generation by developing an online platform, which aims to be the LinkedIn for the Erasmus.” The group has launched Check-in Europe to tap into this pre-existing community network and exploit it for the benefit of employment and economic growth in the EU. Simone explains, “As a user you profile yourself adding your info: your interests and your skills. Then we integrate Bestr so we bring in the badges as more solid evidence of your skills. We are going to start with one very specific badge which is the ErasmusNess badge.” As students complete the Erasmus program, they are asked to fill out an assessment form (from the EU commission) and are given the opportunity to become engaged in the Erasmus alumni community. Immediate ErasmusNess Bestr badges provide incentives for alumni who might otherwise opt-out of the network, in that they quantify the Erasmus experience as a valuable asset to future employers or business partners. The open badge initiative is highly regarded by the Future Food Institute, and it has proved to be an new online standard to recognise and verify learning and skills. These badges will continue to be allocated to participants of FFI events and initiatives in the future.