PLACE : changing the migrant and refugee narrative through innovation

For our latest article, FAIRE shines the spotlight on our partner: PLACE. Active since late 2016, PLACE is a Paris-based project that aims to change the migrant narrative; from a “migrant crisis” to an opportunity for innovation and growth. Founded by the London-based innovation studio, Wow!Labs, PLACE keeps innovation & interculturality at the core of all its activities.

Empower and support refugees to get started as entrepreneurs in France

One of PLACE’s strengths is their belief that newcomers are valuable sources of innovation for Europe that bring opportunities to create new economic, social and cultural value. They also enable private, public and civil society actors to take proactive and strategic roles in unlocking newcomer talent.

PLACE’s work is centred around unlocking the potential of newcomer talent, notably by helping them build their entrepreneurial projects and matching newcomers with opportunities for employment, incubation and higher education.

To achieve their mission and help refugee startups achieve growth, PLACE runs PLACE Labs, one of PLACE’s many forms of intervention. PLACE Labs take on an immersive workshop format where newcomers are guided through the design process for early-stage ideas. Newcomers learn tools from design thinking and human-centred design methodology and transform a problem into a tested and prototyped solution in a mere 24 hours. Led entirely by newcomers trained in innovation facilitation & taking place in emblematic-spaces in European capitals, the PLACE Labs are spaces where the possibilities for migrant-led-innovation are endless.

However, PLACE’s approach to developing newcomer talent goes beyond the Lab format. Over the past three years, PLACE has leveraged several forms of capacity building – including public speaking training, coaching & mentoring, collaborative art projects, interactive storytelling and immersive fellowship models.

The Catalysts: exceptional talents from unexpected places

PLACE goes beyond support to refugee entrepreneurs and provides leadership training for high potential newcomers: the Catalysts. Catalysts are high-potential newcomers who have chosen the develop their projects and acquire leadership skills through PLACE.

With deep connections in informal networks, PLACE has a track record for sourcing exceptional talent from unexpected places. Catalysts are identified and selected based on their potential to lead, influence and act in France. Many come to PLACE with countless ideas for projects and start-ups, looking for a place where they can test & grow their idea and develop a network.

Recently, PLACE decided to continue to invest in Catalysts, by creating the Catalyst Academy, a program designed for newcomers to accelerate their positioning in France. The Catalyst Academy has been designed to provide the skills required for our shifting economies and meet the needs of newcomers for long-term meaningful integration in France. All Catalysts have access to training on key Future of Work skills, opportunities to anchor their economic integration in France (full-time incubation, employment or certified learning) and the opportunity to build a far-reaching professional network.

Next steps: an innovative and promising fall for PLACE

Stay tuned to discover more exciting news from PLACE, such as their brand new leadership for Catalysts happening this fall, and the launch of their blog “Stories of PLACE: Where Migration & Innovation Meet”; providing news and stories that aim to change the narrative around migrants and refugees.

You can discover more about PLACE and the diverse team that leads it here.