Launch of the Centre for Entrepreneurship at the University of Exeter, UK by OENONE THOMAS

On Thursday 10th October evening the Aych Coordinator, Oenone Thomas, was invited to the launch of the University of Exeter’s new Entrepreneurship Centre. It’s always a pleasure for me to return to the campus where I studied for an MSc in Sustainable Development and was accepted for the Leadership module of the One Planet MBA. Thursday night was especially exciting and relevant because of the strong synergies between AYCH and the new centre. Just take a look at this short video:

The guest speaker was Deborah Meadon of the BBC’s Dragons’ Den

She spoke about the ‘role of the entrepreneur in society’ and took non-stop questions from a very engaged audience. It was a wonderful evening with far too much to report on here. But I did take the opportunity to mention AYCH to her. Perhaps we can follow-up on that?!

According to Deborah you can spot an entrepreneur because they are:

  • Very interested in everything around them – they scan their horizon
  • A bit restless and random – they can’t stand still
  • Always learning
  • Full of emotional intelligence
  • Able to spot a good idea and turn it in to a business

Importantly, Deborah believes that biggest problem that entrepreneurs can help solve at the moment is Climate Change.  It’s a challenge for us all and AYCH can play a part  in that.


ATLANTIC YOUTH CREATIVE HUBS: the Europe of Cooperation by Oli Raud

Oliver Raud project manager at Plymouth College of Art and speaker at the European Week of Regions has sent us his thoughts on what Aych is in Europe. A clear commitment to transnationality and cooperation in these very complicated moments, let’s read carefully everything you tell us.

Why/How has the Interreg transnational cooperation been essential for tackling the specific thematic challenges?

Transnational cooperation allows for the Confluence of ideas, people, cultures, perceptions, prejudices, Technologies, disciplines, demographics and opportunities.

We have developed a number of methodologies and pathways that have been co-designed, co-created and jointly implemented throughout the project partnership, drawing on skills, knowledge and expertise that we alone do not possess.

The Creative Jam comes to mind, principally. A  place where young people in transnational teams are presented with a brief to develop a service or product that responds to the societal challenges of our time – linked to the UN SD goals- and reimagine an interaction, a place, process etc developing a prototype of this and pitching the idea to their peers, experts, investors, local authorities and industry experts. It could be big, small, digital, analog, it’s a place to experiment in a transdisciplinary space. Young people are not done to, they are empowered to see themselves as the change agents we desperately need in society. It’s a longitudinal project and AYCH is the start of a transnational collaboration that will continue to Foster entrepreneurs across Europe that are able to be comfortable, confident and skilled in a society and job market that is constantly changing and is unstable, building social capital as well as financial capital.

We haven’t shied away from social entrepreneurship and creating businesses with a social purpose and meaning. I felt, when I was writing this project, that a fresh perspective on the way in which we empower young people, through design disciplines, digital fabrication skills and Key Enabling Technologies would bring a different approach to the type of entrepreneurship we were  fostering. An entrepreneur that was socially minded, inclusive, responsible and digitally savvy. By embracing methods such as User Experience design, service and product design as well as design thinking more broadly, we are teaching young people key skills to bring new products and services to the market, underpinned with technical, business and entrepreneurial formation. I also felt that it was  important to make sure these skills and expertise were democratised outside of the walls of higher education and fee paying environments. A young person accessing a youth service hub in Gijon, should have the same right to knowledge as a student from Liverpool attending university and the same is true across the partnership locations.

What is the added value of transnational cooperation for those thematic fields compared to other modalities of cooperation (cross border, Life +, H2020, etc.)

What was and is great about AYCH is that it doesn’t really look like your average INTERREG project. INTERREG AA programme has allowed us some real freedom and trust with regards to the types of activity we were proposing, the types of actors in the partnership and how we realised the activities. I’ve been in and around INTERREG projects for the best part of 10 years and they have generally been pretty safe bets, as Local Authorities tend to be the primary stakeholders, however increasingly in the UK and now across the rest of Europe, austerity has meant that LAs are unable to enact as much of their policies as they may be used to, giving way to new collaborations and whilst I definitely don’t think austerity has been a good thing at all, we have seen some wider, more innovative partnership actions coming to the fore.

As an example of this, collaboration between research organisations, local authorities, youth organisations, CICs, business development agencies, from different sectors – mostly creative industries – have come together in AYCH and supported over 20 new products to market, in this first 18 months and given the opportunity for 100s of young Europeans to experience new skills in KET and enterprise, developing not only their business acumen but also their key 21st century skills, character skills, deep skills or soft skills, whatever you want to call them, as they work in teams, across national boundaries, supporting territorial development, from the ground up.

How could Interreg TN cooperation contribute to reduce disparities at territorial level and improve citizens’ well-being?

I feel they absolutely can and they are a very positive test bed for pilot actions, schemes and initiatives that can have a tangible impact as we try to reimagine our relationship with capitalism, the institutions that govern us, technology, data, social media etc.

At the core of the ethos of AYCH was an axis of two of the key partners – Plymouth College of Art and Brest Métropole – and their embracing of digital manufacture, maker cultures and making as an act of learning and resistance. Brest and Plymouth are the World’s 1st Twin Fab Cities. Joining this network of locally productive and globally connected cities has really positively contributed to what we see in the AYCH project, as a Fab City is a sharing, balanced, prosperous city that cares not only for its citizens’ welfare and environment but also the way in which we Foster innovation and value systems that are not extractive, nor reductive and exploitative. We are aiming to support our young people to be the citizens who are empowered to make their own future and not passively consume it. We talk about Smart Citizens who are able to benefit from a decentralised power system and positively support a larger number of people, across class and economic divides. They are also citizens that are able to benefit from the democratised access to production means – 3D printers, CAD, CNC manufacturing machines etc. to prototype and build for themselves and others, responding to a need of a place and connecting with others across Europe to share knowledge and resources. They are then confident and entrepreneurially versed enough to create value from their ideas and rollout their products and services more widely.

I believe this is possible from these projects and it should be celebrated that they allow us to do this, despite tons of bureaucracy and the hugely disruptive threat of Brexit looming!!!!

How could the financing of projects through Interreg TN contribute to the improvement of public policies?

If there was an improved policy platform to listen to and invite open, participatory democracy.

At present, it feels as if there isn’t really the mechanism to fully showcase the impact, merits and detail of a project to policymakers. There is a disconnect between the political classes and the people, which is giving rise to populism and populist policies.

As a piece of positive action, as part AYCH, we are developing a model and then a policy adoption, toolkit in order that others, across  Europe at both practitioner/operational level as well as civic leadership and policy maker level people are able to pick up and implement aspects of our project or adopt it wholesale in their locality. We feel this practically allows citizens and government alike to use the investment in our project over a longer term.

Aych in Brussels: European Week of Regions

Today the Aych project has been presented in Brussels at the European Week of Regions and Cities. Our partners of Plymouth Plymouth College of Art and Santo Tirso represent the whole partnership in this event so important to us.

Oliver Raud – Plymouth College of Art | Vera Araujo and Joao Correia – Municipality of Santo Tirso | Carlos Garea, Ismael Morán, and Carla Guimaraes – Join Secretariat Atlantic Area

Louise Honey in Cies: an amazing residence!

I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Cies islands off the coast of Galicia as part of Cíes Camp 2019. Not only beautiful but also rich with history, wildlife and fauna, my time spent on the Cíes islands was full of appreciation and awe. Working with an international team of volunteers of all ages, our tasks included cleaning the trails and beaches, designing educational puppet shows, informing tourists on the wildlife within the island and reforestation workshops. As I arrived on the island, I saw the beauty that draws so many tourists to the archipelago each year – clear waters, pure sand and luscious eucalyptus forests. Working alongside a team that was compiled of some that I had met previously in England and Spain and also an international team of volunteers, each day I saw the passion behind keeping the region in its natural beauty, which was enhanced by the innovative ideas discussed in design thinking workshops.

As an allocated beach and trail cleaner, each day it was clear to see the positive impact each team of Cíes Camp members were having on the cleanliness of each beach, but there was still work to be done. We sorted through the collected refuse which included discarded food wrapping, pieces of fabric, fishing net fragments, clothing tags, cigarette buts and remnants of plastic objects – all of which were collected between the distance of the shore line to the sand dunes. Each day we recorded our findings and I was surprised to see the variety of objects that washed up on the various beaches of the island. What we also discovered was rubbish being hidden under stone benches and rocks, which was sad to find.

During the evenings, after we had enjoyed water sports activities such as paddle boarding, snorkeling and kayaking, each design thinking team worked to develop their prototype ideas which focused on providing practical solutions that visitors could utilise to protect the islands; reduce plastic waste and to inform guests of the history of its natural environment. Inspired by the reforestation workshop and learning about efforts to slowly reintroduce natural fauna back onto the island, I learned that the eucalyptus trees that I had found so attractive on arrival were actually non-native and invasive to the area. Using this as a lead I supported the ‘Bolboreta’ team with designing and making accessories, designed from waste eucalyptus bark. Working to a tight time scale, two prototype designs were created – one clutch bag and a backpack. Using my experience within the fashion and lifestyle industry, I encouraged the volunteers to think of the sort of materials that could be used alongside the bark such as new vegetable leathers and ways the bag could be constructed with as little material waste as possible and without using harmful substances that would counteract the natural focus on the design.

It was really inspiring to see each team present their ideas on the final evening and I was amazed to see what was achieved in such a short period of time. I am so grateful for having the opportunity to visit Cies, to better understand the history of the islands and to have worked with such a vibrant and passionate team. I am looking forward to hearing about the selections reviewed during an event in Porto, Portugal next year.


Founded in 1898, the Santo Tirso Spinning Mill and Fabrics was one of the most emblematic factories of the Ave Valley, the heart of the Portuguese Textile and Clothing.

Located on the left bank of the river Ave, and close to the city center, the factory is an essential reference in the collective memory of Santo Tirso and a fundamental space to understand the development and the industry of the region.

The urban and economic development of the municipality of Santo Tirso is closely associated with an intense industrial activity which is mainly concentrated in the textile sector.

The Santo Tirso Factory is a symbol of the connection of the city and the textile industry at a time when it was understood as a symbol of progress, economic growth and a promoter of important social changes.

The Santo Tirso Factory project is inspired by some of the most interesting policies and current urban revitalization and development strategies with a clear focus on the relationship between cultural and creative development of industries and urban regeneration processes in cities.

The different projects that integrate the regeneration process of this city block are destined to be a work and business space, a space for experimentation and innovation, a cultural and leisure space at the same time. Through this diverse, multifunctional and dynamic union (meeting services, shops and restaurants) it is possible to offer a creative, solid and attractive space in the Santo Thyrso factory, based on fashion-related activities.

Innovation and creativity function as differentiating and facilitating factors in the various fields of contemporary activity, being able to guarantee proactive and sustainable solutions based on the most inexhaustible energy in a universe marked by competitiveness but also by the renewal of new challenges, having imagination And be human. creativity at the service of society.

Fashion and design and, in general, creative industries are today assumed as fields of applied research, capable of integrating technology and values, conceptual innovation and business strategy, local solutions and global perspectives. The focus on creativity as a differentiator and resource enhancer is decisive.

This is where the AYCH HUB of the MunicipalY of Santo Tirso is located, an impressive space where young people can find advice, training, residences, internships, … in the field of creativity.


Louise Honey is 25 years old from Devon (UK). She studied Fashion and Textile Design at Plymouth College of Art and Sportswear Design later on. She worked for Finisterre and is now working as a Content Creator at Flatspot. Thanks to the Atlantic Youth Creative Hubs project, she has just come back from a week of residency in Santo Tirso (Portugal), partner of this project.  Louise would like to become a sustainable design consultant, specialising within the fashion and sportswear industry. Her ambition is not just to tackle the current ethical problems within global industry, but also to shape the future.

How would you describe yourself as an artist?
I would not call myself an artist per se, but more a researcher who is looking to constantly learn and better understand different areas of design, production and the life cycle of an item. I enjoy collating images and information whilst learning more about history, how we form relationships with what we own and an object’s journey of becoming more than its original worth. I feel it is important to encourage people to consider the items they acquire, to limit waste and to increase the personal value of them. 

How we design our lives, how we want to present ourselves and the impact belongings have on our daily lives and the planet is of real interest to me. I am currently trying to educate myself on circular design which offers solutions for the current environmental issues we are facing, whilst also proving how we should be considering every step of an items life, how we can make better use of materials, utilise specialists during the design process and educate others on developing a longer lasting connection with what we own.

What or who are your influences and why do you focus on sustainability? 

I am influenced by small businesses and entrepreneurs, particularly individuals who are trying to make positive changes within the use of new processes and materials, whilst also being appreciative of traditional craft to keep this element alive. There is a strong community of creatives where I studied for my BA in Falmouth, Cornwall. People here are actually doing this and making it work in a rural area – I love discovering teams of people working to make things happen outside of major cities such as Falmouth, where groups and individuals are choosing to live their lives differently at a slower pace. Conversely, I really enjoy seeing developments and innovation within major cities. Anyone who shares a vision of a more sustainability based future is really inspiring to me – for example Lidewij Edelkoort, the Ellen McCarther foundation and any vintage clothing fanatics! 

I like to remind myself that sustainability is more than just a recycled material or something new made from something old, it is more about having an appreciation and understanding of design whatever its age. I was raised attending makers markets and art fairs where you could meet the person who designed and made the product, and I think seeing their ideas and inspirations has really shaped my career path and my interests. I am very emotionally driven by purchases and I like learning more about how others connect with what they select, how marketing and visual merchandising effects this, and how dramatically our habits have changed in recent years. 

The fact that sustainability affects everything – it is not objects or nice things, it is a way a building is made, a way a road is designed, social systems etc. – and the time pressure we are facing makes it a main focus for me. It can feel overwhelming at times but I think it is a positive incentive to see how innovation on both small and large scales connects us globally, which is often wonderful to witness.


What do you hope to achieve in the future with your practice? 

Gathering or creating a knowledge bank relating to sustainable, durable designs is my ultimate goal so that I can advise and support like-minded people and convert others! I would like to be able to assist in the making of products and help others to design and produce things in a conscious way. This could be by recommending a material, creating a visual identity for a company or by sharing my knowledge of up and coming or developing innovations. I want to feel positive towards the future of design, traditional skills and the lives of makers rather than feeling as though we are draining resources. I would love to learn more about historic craft from different cultures and just continue to absorb everything I can with an aim of helping others alongside my own creative projects.

What motivated you to apply for the residency? 

The opportunity to learn new things, travel and make new connections. Santo Tirso was not an area I was familiar with, but I knew it had a rich textile history. I wanted to witness the starting process of fabric production to better understand the challenges of introducing more sustainable systems, what the industry is already doing and to identify any preconceptions or potential challenges, whilst also learning about skills that could support my ethos.

The fact that opportunities like this don’t arise too often was a major bonus and I am progressively piecing together useful learning experiences that are helping to shape my career.

What was the highlight of your time there? 

Like all the AYCH events I have attended, I met a wonderful international team during my time away. In Portugal this included participants from Porto, Brazil and Poland who are working on some really exciting projects within 3D printing, detailed hand embellishment and furniture design. The host Fábrica Santo Thyrso team taught us about the history of Santo Tirso and the importance of textile production in the area, from a tour of the MIEC to seeing the oldest factory Fábrica de Fiação e Tecidos do Rio Vizela. We attended seminars by Joana Cunha and Rita Matos who shared their rich knowledge in trends, branding and communication which was really interesting to me. On our final day we visited the mountains overlooking Santo Tirso which was a real treat, and one of the participants Valeria has grown up in Porto and acted as our personal tour guide which gave us a real insight into the cities.

How do you think it might affect your practise in the future? 

It has given me a greater understanding of traditional processes and the integration of modern technology. I have improved my understanding of how it can be a slow process of change when it comes to introducing new innovations and how they might not always be necessary – it could be a case of appreciating the heritage of craft more and promoting ways to have younger people interested in continuing the history of a technique that sustains the heritage of different communities. I think seeing processes away from the UK is always interesting and the realisation of how much is happening within each company is really eye opening – from spinning on machines that are over fifty years old to performance fabric testing and textile design. It reminded me to stay open minded and absorb everything I can, to appreciate specialities within different countries and to stay excited about the future. During one of our seminars we were introduced to Bruel wool which is made in a certain region of Northern Portugal. I would like to visit the original factory one day and to improve my language skills so that I can ask more questions! 

How beneficial have you found your relationship with AYCH and the support and opportunities it offers?

Extremely. Since joining the AYCH team I have been exposed to a range of new opportunities, friendships and connections I would not have otherwise made. As an alumni of PCA, I remember the dedication and support from the college whilst I was studying for my BTEC and to have an opportunity to be connected again was very appealing to me, especially having witnessed the amount of ongoing development PCA has achieved since I was last a part of its student community.  

I am very grateful to AYCH for enabling me to become more aware (and actively involved) of the possibilities available and the impact we can each have within the future of design and sustainability. The project has allowed me to reignite my enthusiasm for more sustainable approaches by raising my consciousness of the amount of young people working towards a better future and the importance of collaboration and skill sharing. The AYCH team has been very supportive of individual aspirations from a variety of design backgrounds. I am kept up to date with networking, events, workshops and other opportunities that I wouldn’t otherwise be aware of and there is a real enthusiasm behind the team, which I first experienced during the Creative Jam event in Gijón. I feel very lucky to have been selected and to have their support and opportunities such as my residency in Porto available. 


This is Fernanda Passos, 27, promoter of the project “Studio Nanda

It aims to develop a system for the creation and production of sustainable, quality and lasting clothes, as opposed to the abusive fast fashion industry. The aim is to create a Modern Tailoring Atelier, where a personalized service will be made available to the customer, reliving the old arts of tailoring and non-industrial sewing, but in a modern, relaxed and not elite way.

The Aych project hub is located in the Factory of Santo Tirso, there a group of professionals support young entrepreneurs to develop their ideas and projects.


by Xosé L. Garza (Director of Cies WorkCamp).

When one has spent almost all his life, twenty years already, working with and for the youth, he is willing to make an analysis of what really motivates to have chosen this path and not another: many of us can think that it was an exit through the side door, others that was an escape route or others that was a promising future. Well, none and all. The time of life teaches us to the succession of events leads to a goal and that time brings you closer to a goal. When I started in the free time sector I could not think what I would need to work so much in the education of young people, we knew that educational free time was there, but I had no idea how necessary is the education in values ​​with, first the boys and girls and then teenagers. When you really see things you realize that you have to follow a road map with a very marked line in human values.

The young man when he comes to an activity as a Volunteer Camp thinks that he is really having a good time, which is true, but he does not expect the large amount of content and value that will be carried out for his home and that he will expand where you develop your daily life. When young people participate in a European program where several countries interrelate and cause synergy among adolescents from various backgrounds, they are also not problematic that there are many and other values ​​that are going to be difficult there. Their parents don’t know it either, they think it is an ideal place, a learning activity among people of the same age, away from a patent reality: the reality of non-formality in the education of our youth society.

The academic is training, the everyday is education, but what is not training or education? Well, it is simply value. All the activities that young people today do not do in the academic field and in the family environment have to have a strong primer of value, to give meaning to their thoughts, their questions and to let them grow what they have to do whatever it costs and whoever likes it. The new educational methodologies have to go this way: the enhancement of young people’s free time through attractive activities in which the youth itself is responsible for programming, executing them, being involved, making decisions, controlling and specifically evaluate everything they do and be able to correct it if necessary even coming to propose inter-rationalization, why not?

The values ​​of the future go through a participatory and committed youth where the environment has to be a basic priority in their training and where passivity cannot be in their backpacks. In a volunteer field such as Cies Camp, many values ​​are learned but perhaps the most important are coexistence, passion for nature and youth awareness: our young people become vindictive with what they think is wrong and if it is against nature becomes even passionate advocates of a life that has little to do with what they have in their daily lives. To this in our volunteer field we have to add the saber to awaken the spirit of ideas. The value of the idea is one of our objectives, since we want young people to be a manager of ideas in the struggle for the environment that our future generations may have. Ideas, coexistence, the environment, … we are talking about terms that although they do appear in books cannot be taken into account until they are put into practice; We may have a lot of knowledge that if we do not really practice them, they cannot be objectively real. That is the key piece of non-formal education: the implementation of a world of ideas and values, so that young people today have support beyond academics and family. That is the function of the volunteer camps and that is the function of projects like Atlantic Youth Creative Hubs.

This has to be our way, that’s my route.

AYCH PLATFORM: Your Ideas In Liverpool.

Aych Platform is the Pacific Stream brand for the Atlantic Youth Creative Hubs project that aims to bring the youth of Liverpool to the business world and new technologies.

In the Baltic Triangle of Liverpool they have opened a multi-purpose center where you can find advice and help to develop your ideas and your business. Baltic Triangle, a converted industrial zone, is an alternative neighborhood with new alternative businesses housed in old warehouses near Jamaica Street. The neighborhood houses music studios, informal restaurants and a garden for outdoor events, innovative coworking spaces, ….

The Aych methodology is a new way of doing things within the development of youth towards new ways of understanding the development of a life project. Non-formal education is very present in the Aych project, so it wants to show that outside the “official” projects and ideas can also be developed and support a new social movement with youth as a true protagonist.

If you want more information you can follow the social networks of Aych Platform or its website:

“Plastics, plastics, and more plastics” by Sira López

Sira López has a degree in Marine Sciences and an expert from Aych. He currently works as a manager of the Cíes Volunteering Field where Free Plastics activities are carried out.

Plastics, plastics, and more plastics. Look to your right. Now to your left. And now head on. It seems impossible not to see plastics wherever we look up. And we have begun to use this material in such a massive way that it is everywhere. But, being honest, the truth is that they are very comfortable. They do not weigh. It Does not Break. They are cheap … They seem all advantages. But unfortunately, in this story, there is a B face. And we don’t make responsible use of them. We generate tons and tons of plastic waste annually. Most of them end up in landfills, where they are incinerated. Some, the least, recycled, usually in third world countries. And, more and more plastics are accumulating in the oceans, the true lungs of the planet, since this is where most of the oxygen we breathe is generated. Plastics spend hundreds of years in our seas until they degrade completely. During this process, they break into smaller and smaller pieces. So small that they are practically imperceptible to the human eye. They are the microplastics. But these microplastics can also come from cosmetic products, such as scrubs, going directly to wastewater, so that it is impossible to treat them in a treatment plant due to their tiny size. And although they are not seen, they are fatal. For a while now, plastics are appearing in the most unexpected places. Not only are they in the stomach of fish, but they have also appeared in table salt, in tap water or in honey. Without us noticing, they have become part of the food chain, incorporating into living beings the toxicity that everything derived from oil entails. And the long-term effects that they can carry are not yet well known. Alarms about this problem have jumped worldwide and, fortunately, more and more countries are deciding to ban the use of single-use plastics.

For some years, young people from all over Europe flood the Terrestrial Maritime National Park of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia. But, unlike the ordinary visitors who receive the islands, we want to talk about people who come with a clear idea: to contribute their grain of sand to make this dream place a little better place. They are part of Pink-Power, a group of volunteers who decide to spend part of their summer in the Cíes Islands doing multiple tasks in coordination with the park staff. His work is focused on the environment, highlighting the cleanliness of beaches, awareness of the citizenship or the proposal of prototypes that help replace the plastic of our daily life or eliminate it from our environment. Thus, through the cleaning of beaches, they not only systematically collect the garbage that reaches our beaches, but also identify and quantify it, transferring this data to the Ministry of Environment through its Citizen Science program. With the help of these results, which will be subsequently analysed in more detail, action will be taken accordingly according to the type of waste most frequently found. In this way, the chain of awareness continues. It is no longer simply about eliminating waste from an area. It’s about going further, preventing this from happening, not making the same mistakes again. Seeing the will of the coming generations, it seems that we are on the right track.