RYCO – Brainster’s new co-innovation partner

Working on real projects is one of the critical activities for all Brainster Bootcamps. It aims to prioritize the learning process by solving real-life problems. This activity is of mutual benefit for our student’s experience and the companies that need innovative solutions for their projects.

The process of concluding a partnership is facilitated through the new platform for co-innovation and hiring as a quick and easy way to apply for interested companies.

The students from the Data Science Bootcamp worked hard for a client who is well known to all of you, and that is RYCO.

Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) is an independently functioning institutional mechanism, founded by the Western Balkans 6 participants (WB 6): Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, aiming to promote the spirit of reconciliation and cooperation between the youth in the region through youth exchange programs.


In this interview, we talked with Matilda Karçanaj about the co-innovation partnership with Brainster



Hello Matilda! First of all it was really nice to meet you and go through this project’s journey together. Tell us something more about yourself and your current position?

My name is Matilda Karçanaj. I hold the position of Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator at the Regional Youth Cooperation Office for more than two and a half years. I hold a BA in Political Sciences from the University of Tirana and an MA from Interdisciplinary Joint Master Program in Southeastern European Studies at the University of Belgrade, Serbia and the University of Graz, in Austria. My fields of interest vary from youth cooperation and reconciliation in the Western Balkans to the EU integration process of the Western Balkans and promotion of human rights.


RYCO (Regional Youth Cooperation Office) is an intergovernmental institution founded by 6 Western Balkans countries working on youth related topics. Could you tell us something more about RYCO, projects you are working on at the moment and what are your goals for the future?  

RYCO as an independently regional institutional mechanism was established through the Berlin Process by the WB6 governments in 2016 with the mission to promote the spirit of reconciliation and cooperation between the youth in the WB through regional youth exchanges as a ground of future cooperation, based on the values of co-existence, tolerance and respect for human rights and diversity as well as the commitment to inclusion and security. 

Some of RYCO’s regional mobility programs results can be considered the followings: 

  • Implementation of 4 Open Calls for regional project proposals for schools and civil society organizations. Currently we are designing the 5th one.
  • 1 New Regional School Exchange Program launched last year (part of a 5.5 mln EUR project in partnership with GIZ). We implemented the first cycle from February-June 2022, with involvement of more than 100 inspiring teachers and around 800 motivated young people aged 15-17. Two more cycles are expected to be implemented.
  • 1 Regional Volunteering Program implemented last year. +200 volunteers throughout the region benefited from the program.
  • 2 cycles of RISE Open Calls (2020-2021). Each cycle supports 12 social business projects with 2500 eur per each project. 
  • EU-WB Students Integration which will support 6 regional student networks. 


Meanwhile, the first pillar of our work for the new strategic period 2022-2024 continues to be providing intercultural learning and dialogue, and peacebuilding opportunities for young people. Second, supporting multipliers in WB6 by enhancing their capacities, resources and networking that contribute towards and are engaged in intercultural learning, peacebuilding and other RYCO thematic areas. And third, to advocate for the development of an enabling environment in the WB for peacebuilding, regional youth cooperation and improving the position of youth.



We are glad that we had a chance to cooperate with you and get to know your organization a bit more. How did you decide to start a cooperation with our Data Science Academy and could you explain a bit more about the project we were working on?

The Data Science Academy had the chance to brief their work to the RYCO Secretary General, who suggested me as the colleague responsible for data collection and analysis in the RYCO to follow up and explore whether we could have any opportunity for collaboration. After meeting with the team and studying the samples of previous work from Data Science Academy, I was convinced that we could work well together and utilize the data we collected from our After Activity Questionnaires for Young People.


Tell us a bit more about your whole experience throughout the project. How satisfied were you with the process and the final solutions? Did the students meet your expectations and needs?

I am very satisfied with the whole experience of collaborating with Brainster. My expectations were exceeded. I am very glad to have worked with such a professional team and a great group of students. All the solutions provided were very good and it was very hard to choose. Therefore, I invited my colleagues on-board for this task, so we could choose together. 


Would you recommend this process and partnership opportunity to your partnering companies and/or other companies? And why?

I would highly recommend partnership opportunities to everyone that is looking to communicate better their results through data visualization and for collaborating with a professional team. The team works very well together, they reflect feedback, follow up and are also very proactive. 


Lastly, thank you for taking the time and answering these questions. Do you have any final remarks for our students, the whole process and how it benefited you and your organization?

I would like to thank students for all their work and commitment during this time. I would also like to tell them to keep up with their very good work and encourage them to never give up, despite the challenges they may face. I also wish them very good luck in their professional career. I myself have learned from the experience of collaborating together. RYCO will be able to communicate its results further to the public, through the dashboard of the results prepared by the students. 


If you are still wondering why you should become a Brainster co-innovation partner, visit the co-innovation & hiring platform and see for yourself!

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