It is no secret that the resources and potentials of rural regions in Brandenburg (and elsewhere) differ substantially from those of urban and metropolitan areas: Rural areas are structurally weak and suffer form demographic change and the migration of large parts of their population towards economically more attractive regions.
On the other side, rural areas offer numerous natural resources and regionally rooted companies which allows for completely distinct approaches.
One indispensable precondition for the development of such approaches is a functioning network for the exchange of ideas, knowledge and practices.
As C2C is not only a research project but also aims at testing (and developing) formats, which could be suitable for Brandenburg, we set out – against the previously described backdrop of challenges and potentials – to develop a model for strengthening the regional economy and innovative strength, through connecting local companies and universities, their know-how, resources and technologies within the framework of very hands-on formats for research and development.
As the model served the open source project Grüne Werkstatt Wendland, based in the very rural western-German region called Wendland, mostly famous for the anti-nuclear protest movement (read more in this earlier blogpost or go directly to their website).
At the core of the whole concept lies the so-called local „Projektbörse“, a kind of project pool containing unsolved problems, undeveloped ideas and the like which are fed into the pool by the companies for students from different disciplines (such as e.g. design, engineering, cultural tourism and the like) and different regions to be worked on in close collaboration with the companies.
The connection of the universities and the oftentimes unidentified know-how of the local companies harbors the great potential of being able to refine existing business models and products in an innovative way, to test approaches which have not yet been taken into consideration and to identify focal points, which are content-wise and technologically new.
This attempt shall be pursued beyond the borders of the individual regions of Brandenburg, building a network to which each university and business location can contribute with their own individual knowhow and competencies – the network of the „Creative regions Brandenburg“.
In addition to the “Projektbörse” we also discussed the following formats:
interdisciplinary project weeks
cross-sectoral innovation camps involving different universities
an open and very practical format involving vocational colleges and similar educational institutions
a temporary regional display window
a creative business competition with jury and prize, e.g. a creative business cup
Workshop situation 1
Workshop situation 2
Our guests discussed each format with regards to their own experience in the field, the resources and contact at their disposal and developed some of the ideas further.
Of special interest were the questions as to which university disciplines to involve and on how to start (involve the whole “Land” or start with a smaller group of one or two pilot regions).
The participants also agreed that the building upon already existing structures and involving already active players in the regions would be key.
They discussed if yet another competition was necessary and how this format could maybe be developed further in order to create something new and unique which stands out against the other existing competitions and really helps the winners. For example it might be useful if the winners would not receive a prize but the support for realizing the idea for which they submitted a concept.
Workshop situation 3
The participants also developed the temporary regional display from something nonmotile to an interactive and mobile format with potential for involving the local population and creating a real buzz in the media and visibility for the whole region.
A working group was not formed out of the meeting, but the individual participants are already discussing next steps. We will try to keep track of the developments ans write about them here …
The aim of our Barcamp was: on one hand to discuss the relevance of the project’s research findings with creative industries project and programme managers from Sweden, Italy and Denmark and on the other hand to provide a fertile and open ground for exchange in order to create new knowledge, to extend our focus and to initiate a small European network ourselves. In order to achieve this, we “betrayed” the Barcamp method and set a couple of topics that seemed relevant from our perspective for future creative industries support.
Here, we now provide the full documentation in digestible PDF pieces:
The keynote from Prof. Joan Ganau from the University of Lleida in Spain highlighted some of the weaknesses of intermediate cities with respect to creative industries development:
lack of opportunities for qualified jobs
difficulties to attract and retain talents
no economies of agglomeration
bad international accessibility.
From his perspective, the strengths of intermediate cities lie in
more possibility of social cohesion
richer “social capital”
no formal social relation networks (more dense and fluid)
quality of life and sustainability
place identity, ensue of community.
The second keynote speaker, Ralf Ebert (urban planner and CEO of Stadtart) made an attempt to answer the question why CCI can be important for medium-sized cities:
for the marketing of the city
necessary part of business oriented service industries
sector as part of the regional innovation system
locational factor for companies from other sectors and for households
spill-over effects on city development.
Tom Fleming from the British creative consultancy TFConsultancy gave an inspiring speech and stressed the necessity of talent development and the need to invest in experimentation, convergence and disruption. From a governance perspective, he called for joined-up approaches to creative industries development including culture, tourism, innovation and wider “creative” spill-over effects. His considerations also confirmed another observation we discussed a lot recently: the observation that the role of business support for the creative industries seems to change the overall rationale of business support in the sense that facilitation, moderation, building of local, national and international networks and the enabling of collaborative practices becomes central to supporting an industry and therefore fundamentally challenges the self-understanding of business support as it has been practiced before. This implies that the discourse about creative industries may not take the shape of a “dolphin” (in the sense that it is a nice topic that makes everyone smile and evokes good feelings) as Tom Fleming pictured and highlighted. Rather, it is discourse that calls for action and that should not be separated from other societal and economic transformation processes.
Although the small and medium sized cities have not been the sole focus point of our project, we of course identified and looked at creative industries support schemes in these contexts. Therefore, we were invited by the organizers to present some findings from this part of our research. From Sweden, we explained how the region’s initiatives were initially triggered by support from the national level. We presented the cases from Skåne of the consulting project Selfmade, the creative industries development approach of KELA as part of a wider urban development strategy in Landskrona as well as the incubator Creative Plot in the university city of Lund.
From our research in Italy we showed how the audience development initiative of the cultural department of the city of Bolzano managed to not only increase cultural participation within the city but also from among the surrounding villages. This example raised for us the question how the smart use of (guerilla) marketing methods could also integrate the local creative industries. In the close to the city of Milan located Vigevano, the business department builds on the work of Leonardo da Vinci to redevelop the castle in the heart of the city that has been empty for decades. The plan is to establish a permanent exhibition but also to attract creative entrepreneurs from the field of digital media through offering coworking spaces.
The challenges of the adoptation of a support scheme initially designed for a city as big as Bologna became obvious in the case IncrediBol! This programme is being extended to the province now where stakeholders are dissipated and the needs of the entrepreneurs and public administration seem to be different from the ones in Bologna. Finally, we presented which challenges the introduction of the typically very urban infrastructure and networking concept “The HUB” brings with it when established in a city as small as Rovereto. Here it seems that more communication efforts are necessary to gain acceptance by the local population compared to a more urban environment and to provide an understanding of the work and life situation of entrepreneurs.
The last months were pretty turbulent for us and we are still working on documenting the different events for you to read about them here on our blog: After the barcamp in early September, we immediately began working on our booksprint, travelled to Copenhagen for CKO‘s and InVio‘s international day of innovation concentrating on cross innovation and contributed with a presentation on C2C’s first findings in this field. We also held the second meeting of our advisory board in Potsdam to discuss the relevance of our research findings and the findings from the barcamp and hosted a workshop for discussing the possibilities of developing a new format for cross innovation, collaboration and knowledge transfer between local companies and universities in Brandenburg.
Next Monday, we will be in Vigevano, Italy, for our third expert round table meeting. This time, the topic is: “Cross Innovation – which potentials lie at the intersection between arts, creativity and business?”. We have invited experts on the field from all involved regions and countries and will discuss the first results from Prof. Giovanni Schiuma’s study on the topic and try to identify further challenges, potentials and possible trends.
Right after this meeting, we will travel further South to Bologna, to meet with our booksprint authors Emma Estborn (Media Evolution, Sweden), Giorgia Boldrini (Business Department, Commune di Bologna, Italy), Steinar Valade-Amland (ThreePointZero, Denmark) and Carsten Busch (Institute for brand communication, Germany) for a whole day of working on finalizing the chapters of the booksprint. The Booksprint is one of the core elements of our project: it is a collaborative way of writing a book. Usually, authors are invited to contribute a chapter from their respective field of specialization to a publication until a certain deadline. With the Booksprint format, we made this process a collaborative one: the authors were not only asked to contribute with their expertise but to also engage in a weekly exchange about their chapters, identify similarities, comment on the chapters of the other authors and thus developing their texts further through this collaborative method.
The chapters of the final publication as the result of the Booksprint will focus on various dimensions of creative industries (support): Emma Estborn focuses on the importance and impact of collaboration. Steinar Valade-Amland analyses design history and puts design in an value chain perspective. Georgia Boldrini from Bologna in Italy describes her experiences how the introduction of business support instruments for cultural and creative entrepreneurs has shaped both the image of the artists as well as the relationship between cultural funding and business support. Gamification and digitization is the topic of Carsten Busch focussing on the broad application fields of games in companies and education. Carsten Becker puts creative industries in the perspective of innovation and describes their role as innovator and innovation driver. Finally, out board chairman Dirk Kiefer reconsiders the right mix of business support instruments for the creative industries.
Finally, on the 7th of November, we will be in Cottbus to contribute to the final conference of the EU project “Urban Creative Poles” with our insights on creative industries support in small and middle-sized cities with examples from Italy and Sweden.