European Youth Award Festival

We're pretty chuffed to win the European Youth Award 2014 for social entrepreneurship. Just back from participating in the award festival over the last week, and thought I'd share some reflections on what an awesome time it was.

Firstly, a big shout out to the incredible teams behind the other winning projects – each one is well worth checking out for how they use technology to achieve impact:

After arriving (via propeller plane!) into Graz and checking into the Das Weitzer hotel, Marten and I took full advantage of the glorious breakfast spread. It goes without saying that Austrian food is infinitely better than our usual London grub, so we did our best to finish the entire morning buffet.

Having arrived a day ahead of schedule, we decided to get in touch with anyone and everyone from Graz who was interested in discussing youth unemployment. We spoke we Lena from OIKOS Graz ( a student group), Dr Andrea Felbinger from the Graz Deputy Mayor's office, Bettina Absenger from the Graz Employment office and Karl Dreisiebner from AMS (the local Job Centre). They all seemed to like our new youth careers platform and we'll be back in touch with them once its ready for them to use it in their organisations. Thanks also to Sylvia from radio for interviewing us and spreading the word – check out the programme here (available to listen for a few more days only):

oikos 2  20141119 104510 2    

The festival kicked off the next day and threw us into a full programme of networking, presentations and workshops, organised by the brilliant Birgit Kolb and her team at the EYA, under the chairmanship of socially-motivated and quick-witted Peter Bruck. The winning teams, together with interested students and the competition judges, launched into an intensive schedule to get the most out of the next 3 days.

Schedule 2  Schedule 1

We were very fortunate to speak with some brilliant social and business minds including Walter Betschel, Marina Kusumawardhani, Manar Al-Hashash, Niall Austin, Paul Hughes, Christian Kittl, Adam Montandon and Timo Rostedt.

iman walter talk  paul

The atmosphere was inclusive, encouraging and action-led. Teams were united by a desire to bring about social change and a willingness to act on their hopes. Each team presented their projects to a large audience of judges, students and dignitaries. Like the others, ours was well received.  You can view our presentation here:  The closing gala was energetically MCd by Adam Montandon and each team was recognised for their achievements. Special congratulations go to Connor and Tudor for winning the overall festival award with their project GovFaces which lets citizens communicate more effectively with their elected representatives. We're looking forward to welcoming you guys to London when you move over here in a couple of months!

council  coucil marten

iman circle  marten talk

presentation  gala

Aha Award  winners

We made our farewells the following day after a tour of the beautiful city of Graz. Overall it was an energising, inspiring and motivating event that validated our project and brought new collaborations which we are now moving forward with. Excellent experience, now let's keep up the momentum!

tour  everyone


For all the photos, check out our Facebook page: 



We won the European Youth Award!

The European Youth Award presents the thirteen most innovative digital initiatives in Europe – the winners of this year’s contest. The winners’ event will take place in Graz, Austria, from November 19 to 21

 Salzburg, Austria; September 11th, 2014. The British project ‘Aha Design’ is among the winners of Europe’s unique “Digital Creativity for Social Good” contest. Prof. Peter A. Bruck, honorary chairman of the International Center for New Media and initiator of the European Youth Award (EYA), has announced the EYA winners 2014 selected by an international expert jury today.

 ‘Aha Design’ stood out of 130 submissions from 49 European countries. The project was developed by young and smart social entrepreneurs from the United Kingdom who bundled their forces to set new creativity and innovation standards in the digital world. ‘Aha Design’ fights youth unemployment by connecting talented unemployed youngsters with businesses through a freelance platform. The project acts as a digital agency working with clients in a way they understand and managing all freelancers internally, to provide training, web design and development services.

 This year’s competition focused on European challenges and priorities as defined by the EU strategy 2020 and the Council of Europe. How these can be achieved by the creative use of IT and Mobiles, has been demonstrated by Europe’s cunning digital natives. “To know that there are so many young people who are caring to change the future, is awesome! They really inspired me with their innovative projects!” says juror Dušica Birovljević, founder and owner of Nomcentar in Serbia.

 The winning projects origin from eleven different countries – Armenia, Austria (2),the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany (2), Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The young bright minds behind the projects are invited to the EYA Festival in Graz, Austria, from November 19-22, as reward for their great achievements. There they will participate in an interactive conference with international creative thinkers, ICT experts, business and opinion leaders. During this three-days knowledge-event they will present their inspiring high-impact projects in front of a high-level audience. Based on their presentations, the EYA Festival Grand Jury will select one overall winner.


 About the European Youth Award (EYA)

Called into life by Prof. Peter A. Bruck, honorary chairman of the International Center for New Media, in 2012, the European Youth Award (EYA) is a leading European competition honoring excellence in the use of Internet and mobile applications for social empowerment. Conducted under the patronage of the Council of Europe, UNESCO and Unido, EYA as annual contest seeks to motivate young people under the age of thirty to produce socially-valuable digital projects that address the goals defined by the Council of Europe and Europe 2020.


A full list of The European Youth Award winners can be found at

Learn about the program of The EYA Winners’ Event in Graz:

Digital support for Social Saturday 2014

We're delighted to have created the website for Social Enterprise UK's 2014 Social Saturday event - a day to celebrate and buy from social enterprises - businesses that put people and planet first.  Get involved here:

Every purchase we make has an impact on the world we live in. Social enterprises trade to tackle some of the greatest challenges we face, like unemployment and food waste.   Support them on Social Saturday - 13th September 2014.  Check out the full list of social enterprises here:

Social Enterprise UK is the national body for social enterprise. Business with a social or environmental mission.  Find out more about them here:

Connecting Tech City

After contributing to Centre for London's fantastic 'Connecting Tech City' IndieGogo campaign, it was brilliant to participate in the first stakeholder session of this interesting project.  There were excellent contributions from a range of organisations working in Tech City including Milverton Wallace (@hackathoncentrl), Will Bentinck (@isoworg from @techlondonadv), Alan Stuart (@woweliteuk) and Sinead Mac Manus (@sineadmacmanus) and hosted by Jess Tyrrell (@jesstyrr from @centreforlondon).

We look forward to collaborating with all participants and contribute to to development of Tech City in a way that facilitates the empowerment of youth to capitalise on their talents.

Participant becomes Trainer

We're delighted that last week Joan completed the cycle from acting as a participant in our training course at ELATT, to delivering the same training herself to a new group of participants!  We look forward to working again with Joan in providing more Digital Skills training to jobseekers through our partners.

Supporting End Violence Against Women Summit

Great to be using tech to support social action!  We'll be supporting Serene Communications at the End Violence Against Women in Conflict Summit at the ExCel Centre over the next few days.  The summit has been convened by Angelina Jolie and William Hague to raise awareness about these issues.

We will be supporting the technical delivery of the Fringe event '1325 On Trial' - a dramatic mock trial exploring the international legal instruments used in fighting for womens rights, with key participants including Cherie Booth QC (Matrix Chambers), Professor Chintin (LSE International Law) and Anne-Marie Goetz (Director of Women, Peace and Security, UN Women), with support from the barristers at 9 Bedford Row Chambers.

Entry is free so do come along, support the cause and say hello if you see us!  More info here:

Kevin presents social entreprise at the UN

Aha Founder Kevin Ackermann hosts a workshop on women in social entreprise at the United Nations 58th Commission on the Status of Women.  Excellent work Kevin!





Highlights from our web training

It's been great working with the team at ELATT, providing their jobseekers with a two day website training course.  The training went very well and we're fortunate to have met and worked with such talented people and we look forward to continue to work with them as Aha freelancers, as and when the opportunities arise.  Check out our video for the training highlights (select HD for the best playback resolution)!

Looking ahead at 2014

Did you make a New Year's resolution?  Are you still going strong, or have the inevitable tides of reality pulled you back into well-worn habits?  I know how you feel - I completed a full month on a raw vegan diet and thoroughly impressed myself, before gorging on a fully carnivorous Iranian feast in early Feb.  I may have given up the diet, but I'm feeling healthier and looking forward to the year ahead!

We've also been reflecting at Aha Design and after a cracking first month, it's full steam ahead!  We're balancing three core business services right now - large custom development projects, small startup website projects (which we complete with our jobseekers for their work experience) and developing partnerships with charities to explore how to scale our jobseeker programme.  The team is working hard and we're very positive about moving ahead quickly!

As always, great to connect with new people, so give us a call and coffee's on us  :)

Welcome Rami!

It's been a while, but we're back on schedule!  I guess our biggest news is that we've got a great new team member, Rami Abdelal, who brings a great deal of enthusiasm and commitment to each project. He's already finished his first project for the UN and is hungry for more!  Rami also played a key role in supporting our recent delivery of a website training course for East London charity ELATT, for their jobseeker clients.   Keep up the good work Rami!


© 2014 Aha Design