We always talk about how creative entrepreneurs need to learn more business skills, write better business plans, work on lowering their risks and so on … but what happens if you flip that assumption around?! How can investment be smart? And how can investors be better investors for and in the creative industries?
These are the questions we will be discussing tomorrow in Copenhagen during our second expert round table meeting. Our Danish partners from CKO prepared a promising study on the matter, based on qualitative interviews with investors and creative entrepreneurs and we invited experts from Denmark, Sweden, Italy and Germany to add as many different perspectives as possible.
After the very inspiring morning interview with Paolo of the Hub Rovereto, we got back on the train and rode further north to Trento, where we met Stefano Rossi from the university of Trento and Monica Carotta, from the business development agency Trentino Sviluppo, to talk about the program „Trentino Creativo“.
The meeting took place at the university, which is located in a former sanatorium on a hill overlooking the city. A great scenery, indeed!
Trentino Creativo is a call, aimed at bringing together young emerging designers and the local producing business. This connection is not very obvious in the beginning, as Trentino is not famous for design (in fact, the region has no own design school or so), but rather for agriculture (apples and wine), paper and wood manufacturing and small producers. These producers oftentimes work in very traditional ways and had to be convinced that the incorporation of design into their production processes from an early stage might indeed add some value to their products and thus their companies’ success, even in hard-knock economical terms. So, the program’s overall goal was to change the mindsets of people and to use design to make the region more competitive.
To this end, the program launches two calls each year with which are addressed both at designers and companies. The companies send in a short draft of their product idea which is then forwarded in an anonymised version to the 20 selected designers, who pick 2 ideas for which they hand in a proposal. These proposals are then again forwarded to the companies. Based on these drafts and proposals Trentino Creativo organizes a matching meeting and helps with settling the contracts, but then retreats and leaves both involved parties do their work as they see fit.
The reception of the program is very good on the side of the desginers as they seem to be really eager for a supported help with entering the company sphere. The companies, on the other hand, are not yet that convinced and need to be pushed a little more. So far, the program still needs to use monetary incentives (20% of the costs of the designers is covered by Trentino Creativo, which amounts to a maximum sum of 5.000€).
But the program can definitely already be seen as a success: there have been collaborations resulting in the creation of a new bathroom design, the newly designed interior of a local tourism office, a new design for balconies, innovative mobile homes that give shelter to people after natural catastrophes and new champagne glasses. Furthermore, right now, a group of designers is working on the development of items for the museum shop of the new science museum in Trento, which is about to open in July.
Alpine panorama from the university’s cafeteria terrace
While our first research trip to Italy in April brought us to Milan, Turin and Bologna, big cities in Lombardy, Piemont and Emiglia Romagna, this time we had designed a tour leading us more north-east-wards in search of smaller communities.
So, on Wednesday afternoon we got on a train, left the greater Milano area behind us (after an interview with the Chamber of Commerce of Monza and Brianza) and started heading up north. It may sound funny to German, Danish or Swedish readers, but we could really feel how we were travelling north and leaving the south behind us. The Alps were getting closer, the clouds were hanging deeper, the air smelled different … not to mention the different architecture …
Our next destination was Rovereto, a small town of 38.500 inhabitants on the foot of the mountains, where we had our next interview with Paolo Campagnano scheduled for thursday morning. Paolo is one of the co-founders of the Hub Rovereto. The Hub is a world-spanning network of professionals, creatives and coworking spaces with a social entrepreneurial approach. It is important to stress that the Hub wants to be more than „just“ another coworking space, as Paolo told us: in fact it is really more about a mindset and the shared network. The Hub started in London in 2005 and counts 33 locations worldwide today, with a growing tendency (e.g. There will be a Hub opening in Berlin). Rovereto is by far the smallest, which made it all the more interesting for us, as we were curious to learn how the typically rather urban concept of coworking functions in a smaller community, where, as Paolo (originally from Milano) told us, there are a number of challenges you don’t meet in bigger cities. These are for example old animosities between long-time aquaintances which are a constraint to building professional networks, or that the local community often sees the young creatives as „wanna-be-spacials“ and are reluctant to work with them.
Still, despite these constraints, the Hub Rovereto is a success story: It opened in 2010 and counts already 70 members today without ever having had to draw on public money for support.
The members are between 17 and 55 years old and come from the whole region. Some are entrepreneurs, some are freelancers or work for organizations or on projects. You’ll find people from such diverse specialized fields like energy, communication, web development, theatre, photography, peace research, neuropsychological science, tourism, food and nutrition.
The Hub offers them online and offline services such as the space of course, but also trainings on specific skills and access to the worldwide social media tool the Hub net, through which collaborations can be arranged. Some courses are also organized for non-members, such as long-term unemployed people or young wanna-be entrepreneurs. These are often arranged in collaboration with Business Angels or other orgnisations.
When asked about the future, Paolo mentioned the new Hub they will open in Trento this year and depicts a picture, with more separated rooms in the coworking space (e.g. for meetings), a closer collaboration with the local population and more small hubs turned into a private network of community hubs.
We will definitely follow this development and wish Paolo and his team good luck!
Do you know what an isthmus is? It is a very thin strip of land connecting two larger land areas, a kind of connection. The Italian word for that is: Izmo. In our case, however, IZMO is the name of a neighbourhood development agency with a participatory, social and cultural approach, based in Torino. It had been one month since we last visited the city. This time we came back for more investigation, namely to track down the many interesting hints Alessandro Bollo from Fondazione Fitzcaraldo had given us the last time. While the previous visit had been very focussed on programs on the municipality and greater policy level, this time it was all about urban development projects with an approach involving creativity and art …
After our first morning interview with Urbe, a group with an interesting approach on urban district development via use of streetart, we met with the very sympathetic Alessandro Grella, one of the co-founders of IZMO.
IZMO started as a group of friends and is organized as an Italian “assoziazione culturale”, which means that it is not for profit and serves a public, cultural mission. As a member-based organisation, IZMO is financed by the revenue of their work, the course/workshop fees and the membership fees and runs completey without public money. The core team is multidisciplinary and comprises 12 people, of which nobody works full time for IZMO and nobody has a contract. As far as we’ve learned during our research in Sweden, this is a very appropriate means of guaranteeing you don’t loose contact to the „scene“.
The professional backgrounds of the IZMO team are architecture, landscape design, urban planning, policy making, participatory design, product design, ICT and media engineering, which explains why all their actions are centered around architecture, design and territory.
And these are their field of action, or their mission, if you like:
Participation and social involvement as a tool for all activities (e.g. focus groups for decision processes)
Training and education for students, professionals or any other kinds of interested people (e.g. summer or winter schools, workshops and seminars, always case-based and very hands-on)
Realization, designing, building (in their own workshop which is located in a nearby compound with two alternative theatres and a bar, owned by the municipality)
ICT and new media (as another tool for participation)
Their target group are other non-profit associations, private entities or public administration, but not more than 50% of their work should be commissioned by private parties.
After one hour of interview, we felt we had grabbed the spirit. Now we wanted to see something! So Alessandro drove us to the previously mentioned compound and showed us around. Despite the burning midday-sun some people were working in the workshop, while others were getting ready for a theatre show in the evening and we could really feel how this place must be alive and buzzing at nights …
On thursday, 25th of April, we gathered at the Kultur Skåne building in Malmö’s Western harbour district for our first expert round table meeting on digitization in the creative industries. In order to gain a pan-European perspective on the matter, we had invited our partners from Denmark, Sweden and Italy, along with some other experts we met during our research trips.
Round Table 1
The basis of our discussion was the report presented by our partner Klas Rabe from swedish Tillväxtverket, which presented digitization as a growth potential for the CCI in general as it both changes business models and creates new products, new service patterns and new conceptual solutions.
According to the study, CCI companies are drivers of this trend (not “only affected” by it) and can contribute content and value creation for their long-term competitiveness, as there has been a change in global value chains to which SMEs, especially within the CCI, contribute significantly. Digitization thus gave birth to a a new type of CCI startups that are “born global”, small companies working together with other small companies in networks.
Of course, the sub-sectors react differently to this trend. The music industry has – after severe problems – recovered and notes significant growth in general today (think of the spotify success story, for example). And the sales for Swedish game developers nearly doubled in 2011 compared to the numbers of 2010. In the performance arts industry, digitization is used for the creation of new models of dissemination and new solutions for their shows in which digitization becomes part of the artistic production. The design sector is developing digital design as well as new ways to communicate with users through social media. In a survey by the Swedish Engineering Industries Association in 2011, it is shown that companies who invest in design, are up to 50% more profitable than those who do not. Very front-end in all this is, by the way, the cultural heritage sector, which adopts the possibilities of digitization very open-heartedly, e.g. in exhibitions but also for preservation and archiving.
Interlinked effects of digitization that affect all sectors are:
Availability: Digitization contributes to an increased availability of culture: more people can access and exercise more culture.
From consumption to participation through the blurring of the traditional boundaries between cultural consumption and production, made possible by technological developments and the creation of new media.
Production: More blending of media than before.
Cooperation: the new interdisciplinary methods of production bring together people and professionals from different sub-sectors. Think for example about the development of a computer game: It requires the cooperation of screenwriters, musicians, designers, programmers and engineers.
Communication and co-working: teams who are physically apart can still co-work on one and the same project through the use of new media; and teams and companies who don’t necessarily work on the same project still choose to share a common work space as they feel that this setting benefits their work. Here the driving forces are not purely economic but mainly driven by people’s needs and preferences on their work life surroundings.
Traffic and defense turn to computer games industries for their tools on simulating and other effects.
Scientific data and results communication through visualization → can then in turn be used for architecture, design and media development for example (one example for that is the micro-level material research in Lund)
Problems and challenges which accompany the trend and which need to be investigated into further, are for example access to finance (as many new solutions don’t fit into the typical funding categories), or the already largely debated upon issue of intellectual property rights (as the digital development will present significant challenges for existing and new entrants regarding future cost and price models and thus business revenues related to intellectual property rights.) One specific major challenge identified by Tillväxtverket is getting the public players to know and understand service innovation in the area, and the needs of the respective target groups, for a flexible approach to shape effective development efforts. The public workers need to develop skills in areas such as technology, communications, statistics and law. Government agencies and national organizations need to strengthen the monitoring of developments in this field, and take notice of common challenges and coordinate their different solutions.
Another important action would be to enhance the cooperation of public workers with external professionals and specialists from within the CCI, who know about the needs and interests of CCI entrepreneurs. This would in return improve and accelerate digital audience development. In general it can be said, that the entire innovation and business support system will need to gain additional skills in order to keep track with the development, as the current schemes are not yet adapted to the needs of the new businesses.
To follow the subject and to find out about the need for coworking also in other regions of Brandenburg, we have designed a survey with 10 questions, which is still open for participation (see post from March, 15th).
In two days C2C will host its first expert round table (n° 1 out of 4) in Malmö, Sweden, on “Digitization in the culture and creative industries”. With our expert participants from all four involved regions – Sweden, Denmark, Italy and Germany – we will be discussing a report on the matter compiled by our Swedish partners from tillväxtverket and broaden its scope by adding the different regional perspectives, by presenting examples and by assessing the topic’s relevance for each region, it’s challenges and potential.
We look forward to a vivid and inspiring exchange and hope that we will be able to identify a lot of fields of action to be worked on. More information on what we discussed will be published here right after the meeting.
For those of you who would like to know more about digitization in the culture and creative industries, we have compiled a little background information reading list (in English):
we are looking for illustrators for our workshops, the barcamp in June and our final conference in Brandenburg. You should be able to visualize statements, the course of discussions and thus to summarize the results of our workshops around creative industries topics. If you are interested, please contact our project manager Noémie Causse with a short overview over your portfolio and you experiences with illustrating events: email@example.com
The second regional workshop took us to the 42.00 inhabitant town Oranienburg about half an hour north of Berlin. Our goal was to test how relevant our previous findings would be for those in local business or culture administrations in the districts of Brandenburg. Together with Katja Dietrich-Kröck, the creative industries coordinator in Brandenburg, we invited about 20 people who already were active in this field.
The meeting place seemed like a symbol for future creative industries development in Brandenburg: we met at Oranienwerk, an ensemble of buildings that had been used as a mill until 1989. The different parts of the building structure shall be developed into a location for cultural and creative industries. The building application has been handed in, they are just waiting to kick off.
In the course of the workshop we presented some of our findings from our trip to Skåne and Copenhagen. Although to some of the participants the examples seemed to be a bit “too urban”, some topics emerged as being relevant in Brandenburg as well:
1. Infrastructure/Work Space: while some argued that coworking was indeed only a topic for the more urban structures in Brandenburg like Potsdam, others stressed that due to the increasing lack of low priced space in Berlin, alternatives in smaller cities that still could easily be reached by public transport opened up scope for action in Brandenburg. Allowing for experiments and not being distracted by manifold events and activities in the capital could indeed be a field of action for Brandenburg in supporting creative industries.
2. Mapping and Visibility: a huge deficit is that creative entrepreneurs and companies hence are not visible enough to decision makers. While oftentimes “facts, facts and only facts” count, the value of creative industries for local and regional development is still not well-known. The participants of our workshop discussed that it would be beneficial to have a template for quantitative and qualitative measurement that could easily be adopted by towns or districts.
3. Consulting and Coaching: While a systematic account of the existing consulting and coaching structure is lacking, our participants uttered doubts whether the existing structures really served the special needs of creative industries entrepreneurs. Wolfgang Flieger, project manager at our cooperation partner IBF (Institute for occupational area research and corporate planning in the media sector) gave our participants valuable insights into his experience with creative entrepreneurs within the “Innovations need Courage” program. While there are manifold institutions and consultancies in charge of consulting entrepreneurs in the stage of the formation of their business, coaching in an earlier as well as in a later phase is lacking. The IBF thus invented an early stage consulting approach when there is not yet a business plan that could be discussed. This kind of consulting seems to be especially relevant for CCI entrepreneurs, in Brandenburg typically coming from cultural projects backgrounds
4. Networking seems to be an everlasting demand when it comes to creative industries support. In Brandenburg, there have already been attempts to address this demand, e.g. for the design sector with the “Design Days Brandenburg“. Networking towards other industries, among CCI entrepreneurs of different disciplines and also on the administrative level is still underveloped.
From our point of view, our findings about CCI instruments in Skåne and Copenhagen triggered a discussion and an exchange of ideas in the region and helped identifying need and gaps in CCI support. The workshop served as a starting point for a more regular exchange. Moreover, C2C and its cooperation partner IBF can accompany some of the initiatives arising from the workshop during the next months, giving advice and providing tailored consulting.
Hallo liebe Brandenburger Kreative! Wie ihr vielleicht schon bemerkt habt, interessieren wir uns sehr für das Thema Coworking. Vor Kurzem haben wir dazu schon einen Workshop in Potsdam ausgerichtet und darüber bereits eine Menge über die Bedürfnisse der Potsdamer Kreativakteure erfahren. Da C2C sich aber für ganz Brandenburg interessiert, möchten wir die Masse der Befragten nun erweitern und alle Kreativen, die in Brandenburg leben und/oder arbeiten, ebenfalls befragen: würdet ihr einen Coworking Space nutzen? Wie würdet ihr ihn nutzen? Welche Features wünscht ihr euch? uws.
Um dies in Erfahrung zu bringen, haben wir eine kurze und anonyme Umfrage mit 10 Fragen ausgearbeitet und möchten euch einladen, daran teilzunehmen. Das ist eure Chance, euren Bedürfnissen Ausdruck zu verleihen und uns mitzuteilen, wie ihr euch das Arbeiten der Zukunft vorstellt!
Bitte hier klicken, um auf die Umfrage zu gelangen. Bitte teilt den Link auch gern mit Kollegen, Freunden und Bekannten, die sich für das Thema interessieren. Je mehr Informationen wir zusammen bekommen, desto mehr können wir erreichen – idealerweise können wir mit den Ergebnissen tatsächlich konkrete Aktionen in Richtung der Eröffnung von Coworking Spaces in Brandenburg bewirken.
Hello you creative people of Brandenburg! As you may already have noticed, we have a thing for coworking and since we just hosted a workshop on that issue in Potsdam and already got a good feedback on the demand that local people have there. But as C2C is interested in the whole of Brandenburg, we would now like to broaden the scope of this mini-analysis and ask all those who live and work in Brandenburg’s other regions what they think of the subject: if they would use a coworking space, how they would use it, what features this space should have etc.
To this end we designed a short anonymous survey with 10 questions on the subject and would like to invite you to participate in it. This is your chance to verbalize your needs and wishes for the future of working together!
Click here to access the survey and please feel free to forward and share the link! The more information we gather, the more impact we can create – and ideally initiate concrete actions for establishing coworking spaces in Brandenburg.