creative industries

After mapping, consulting and networking: what’s next in creative industries support. Insights from our Barcamp Documentation

After mapping, consulting and networking: what’s next in creative industries support. Insights from our Barcamp Documentation

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:

  1. Arts and Innovation Connect
  2. Fishing for talents
  3. Interdisciplinary Working Groups
  4. Experience-based business models
  5. Cross-sector incubation
  6. Access to smart finance
  7. Building strong networks
  8. Holistic competence development
  9. International cluster cooperation / Europe mix’n’mingle
  10. Radical innovation
  11. New finance instruments for incubators
  12. New approaches to coaching and consulting
  13. A toolkit for creative industries support
C2C presenting cases from small and medium sized cities at the final conference of the Urban Creative Poles project

C2C presenting cases from small and medium sized cities at the final conference of the Urban Creative Poles project

The Conference Venue

The Conference Venue

On November 7, the INTERREG project Urban Creative Poles held its final conference in the lead partner’s city of Cottbus, based in the region of Brandenburg for which we develop our creative industries toolkit. The organizers had chosen the fantastic, post-modern setting of the information, communication and media centre (IKMZ) of the Brandenburg Technical University of Cottbus.

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:

  • less dynamism
  • 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

  • housing prices
  • 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
  • job creation
  • 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.

IMG_20131107_104340From 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.

An overview about the actions and results of the Urban Creative Poles project can be found here:

Barcamp review: Access to smart finance

This session was hosted by Søren Würtz, chief consultant from our Danish partner CKO, the Danish Centre for Culture and Experience Economy. CKO’s work is centered around building frameworks for creative industries and entrepreneurs. At the moment, the topic of access to finance is one of their foci, as they have just been conducting a survey measuring the needs of creative industries vs. other industries in Denmark in order to answer the question: “How can we build an ecosystem in a regional area that fosters good investments?”

A key finding showed that creative industries carried significant ambitions for commercial growth – in this aspect, they were most alike to other industries.
Based on this survey and its results, Søren Würtz set out to discuss the questions: What is smart financing for the creative industries? What is stupid financing for the creative industries?

The theses and major points for discussion of the session were:

  • Ambitions for commercial growth:

This point was challenged by some participants. First, because the study did not take into account companies with less than two employees, freelancers and artists.

Jörn Krug who is a coach for creative entrepreneurs in the region of Brandenburg: “My experience proves both the myth that the creative industry is not interested in growth and the opposite, so I’m surprised that the difference shown by the survey is so small. This shows that the business development components are similar in all industries.”

  • Use of classical analysis tools for success measuring:

Classical investors use the 3-year-ladder, whereas in the creative industries it makes more sense to use the leap metaphor: development 1 step at a time, testing in between phases, and a close relationship with the investor – essentially learning by doing.

In Søren Würtz opinion “the typical 3-year ladder-models doesn’t correspond to the pace of the market, they can’t compete with new developments or miss them completely. Instead, investors and creative industries alike should become experts in change, they should focus on short-term strategies and step-by-step scaling!”

  • Need for immaterial assets, much higher within creative industries than others.

(Source: CKO (2013) Access to smart finance, study and presentation for C2C, May 2013)


In groups, the participants worked on the tasks 1) create a map of the investment ecosystem and 2) to develop a strategy for region x.

1) Create a map of the investment ecosystem

  • creatives in the center of the investment ecosystem as the most important aspect
  • creatives should reflect on whether they really need an investor and if yes, what kind, as investments can also be immaterial.
  • Investors should aquire more knowledge of the market, support life-cycle growth models and reflect on their own mindset, as investment gains can also be immaterial.


2) Develop a strategy for the region X!

Key questions:

  1. What are the elements of the ecosystem?

  2. How can we create good meeting places?

  3. How can we put new actors into meeting places?

  4. Why are banks always the main go-to actor when it comes to financing? What about venture capital, crowdfunding, private funding?


The session concluded that in order to improve the investment system for the creative industries
We need to change the cultural mindset: the intellectual property is unique, not the money involved.
We need to change the paradigm of needs/communication.
We need to help creatives develop business sense.
We need to mix financing sources.
We need to develop small scale financing/crowdfunding as business strategy.
We need to develop incentives and models for role models/ambassadors.
We need to focus also on mentors, not just investors.

A new incubation scheme for start-ups and professionals in Milan

speedmiupSpeed Mi Up is a new incubation scheme by the Milan chamber of commerceBocconi University in Milan and the city of Milan aimed at aspiring entrepreneurs and start-ups on the one hand, and at professionals under 35 working in communication fields (e.g.designers, graphic artists, web-designers, journalists, freelance advertising) or in business services (e.g. employment consultants, tax consultants, lawyers, auditors, financial consultants, accountants, IT technicians, company consultants, programmers) on the other hand. 10 start-ups and 20 professionals per year will be selected for the program.

Speed Mi Up’s ambition is to go beyond the design of established business incubators and tries to achieve this by offering a broad and unusual of mix of services to its users:

  1. Work spaces
  2. Financial tools
  3. Training
  4. ICT services for startups
  5. Development services

The mix between start-ups and professionals is definitely a novel feature that cannot be found in conventional incubation schemes. Once accepted, companies can also make use of a cooperative social networking platform through which they can interact with colleagues, tutors and other entrepreneurs via chat, postings, document sharing, conference/video calls and virtual meetings.

As the program just started, it remains to be seen how the program will be accepted by start-ups and professionals and whether it really can contribute to “speed Milan up”.


Further information

Interview with Fausto Pasotti, Director of Speed Mi Up on Youtube (in Italian)