Financially sustainable creative incubations units


JUN 14
Business incubators and co-working spaces in Sofia

Along with the public initiatives launched by Sofia Municipality, Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) begin to play main role in the city life. Some NGOs provide co-working spaces which offer flexibility to young artists in terms of location, space, and time.
Image - Picture The main aim of these co-working spaces is socialisation. By giving separate work place with size and layout depending on the needs of an individual, team or company, the landlords break the traditional way of doing business. That’s why most co-working spaces don’t look like ordinary offices – they provide comfort and satisfaction. Some of the positive aspects are the exchange of ideas and experience, establishment of new contacts, preservation of home comfort; all of them really inspiring, motivating and encouraging.

Betahaus Sofia is a good example. Any freelancer, individual with second job or small business could hire a desk for a day, week, month or year at prices starting from 19 BGN per day. Freelancers, digital nomads, and young people starting their own business projects are among the regular tenants. These areas are designed mostly for creative individuals, who just need a computer to realise their projects – graphic designers, journalists, writers, translators, software developers, programmers and others. By hiring a desk, one gets access to Wi-Fi, printer, copier, scanner, newsletters, job postings, internal events and professional advice. There are places for informal meetings, conference rooms for special needs, and etc.
Image - Picture Betahaus is not the only example. InitLab is a similar place which opened in 2010. The company was founded as a Business incubator, popular mainly among people involved in IT projects. Its concept is slightly different. It attracts people with similar interests and builds a professional community.

ther newly founded co-working company is SOHO (Sofia Holistic Coworking Company). SOHO aims innovation by integrating the activities of traditional co-working companies with art and psychology. This centre mixes work, culture, events, courses, nice and quiet place with garden, Jazzy-Funky-Punky cafeteria with homemade delicacies, and spacious garden with hammocks under a huge weeping willow, yoga hall and theatre in one.

One of the priorities of these companies is to strengthen the relationship between innovators and investors.

The European Investment Fund selected Eleven and LAUNCHub to manage the financial tools for entrepreneurship support and initial funding (Acceleration & Seed Fund). The initiative is funded with 21 million Euros under the JEREMIE within the Operational Programme "Competitiveness" and some of its events targeted at young entrepreneurs took place in Betahaus.

Creative/Cultural industries in Sofia

In preparation for the 4th meeting of the Regional Implementation Group (RIG) of project InCompass, Mrs. Lilia Georgieva - Project Coordinator on behalf of Sofia Municipality and Mr. Yuriy Vulkovsky – External Expert turned the attention of the RIG’s focus groups on developing zones for creative industries and their role as a tool to support the candidature of Sofia for European Capital of Culture in 2019.

At the beginning of 2014, Sofia pretends for something more than a city, capital, and metropolis – a cultural centre. Therefore, Sofia Municipality aims to improve the quality of life by beautifying the city, building a more efficient infrastructure, improving social life, reducing unemployment and developing art and culture.
Image - Picture "Art against Ruin" is an initiative that aims to transform the abandoned, old and neglected places in lively art & culture centres in order to attract citizens and tourists. The municipality sees the initiative as a tool to support its efforts to win the competition for European Capital of Culture in 2019. Recently, the beginning was given by public visits in the tram depot "Klokotnitsa", "UnderGara" at the Central Railway Station rotunda, industrial buildings near Stochna Gara and the buffer parking of "James Boucher" underground station. The initiative was widely supported by organisations and citizens on the 30.03.2014, as part of the Open Day of venues for transformation. As a result of the discussions, interesting ideas for the future of these places were generated.

For the tram depot "Klokotnitsa" the ideas vary from a Public Transport Museum, through a concert hall, theatre, gallery, workshops for artists, to a dance hall.
Image - Picture The UnderGara project’s purpose is to establish a Creative Hub as a symbol of cleaner, more comfortable, lively and attractive place. The idea will be realised by using a social co-operative model to integrate creative industries into the management. The UnderGara community in cooperation with the municipality has been able to clean the place, conduct origami festival and organise musical, dancing and other art events almost every week. The plan for all 140 stores located at the station contains leasing them to artists, organising various festivals, fairs, workshops and events. Cooperation with the Bulgarian Red Cross for a medical centre to help vulnerable groups is also considered.

Near Stochna Gara, where the buildings of the former stock exchange Zimnitza and refrigeration factory are situated, the time seems to stand still. The cooperation between the municipality and the owners of the buildings looks inevitable as all wish renovation and preservation of the historical vision. There are various ideas, the most interesting of them – to create theatre, exhibitions, cinema and different performances. Craftsmen, artists, musicians, entertainers and other art related people are interested in hiring the rest of the building.
Image - Picture Some ideas and projects have already been implemented. Part of the buffer parking’s lobby in "James Boucher" underground station has been given for free use to the Union of Artists. A theatre and rehearsals for future productions have taken place.

Zone Culture Fest in Sofia municipality

Within InCompass project and the initiation for candidature of Sofia for European Capital of Culture in 2019 a Festival Zone Culture Fest has been conducted.
Image - Picture The main aim of the fest is people to learn more about culture and to participate actively and directly in the improvement of their city. The events were conducted in old abandoned industrial buildings both public and private ownerships that have been  transformed into lively art & culture centres in order to attract citizens and tourists. The buildings are situated in an industrial part of Sofia: the former Stock Exchange "Zimnitza" and the former Refrigeration factory.

Between 27 May and 1 June 2014 in Sofia was held a Festival Zone Culture Fest with support of Sofia municipality. Various cultural events was organized in the art area: cinema, theater, literature, dance, art and painting, graphics.

On May 27 in Factory Urban Art (Stock Exchange "Zimnitza" Vladaisko River 204) artists and audiences implement a project RE> LA> KS with the idea to breathe new life and rethinking of abandoned places and objects. The project provides art interventions in some capital areas in order to build places for recreation. Three authors - Bobby Smith, John Kumanovo and Ninko Kirilov read especially for festival visitors new and not so new literary texts within ZONA CULTURA fest. In refrigeration factory, a large room (Industrial Street 11) some actors of ATOM theater presented to the audience spectacle CARNEM. The authors show movement and dance.

On May 28 actors presented "Cain" - dance performance that recreates the theme of human relations beyond gender. It is based on the story of Cain and Abel and further interpretations in which the death of Abel interpreted as a metaphor for the separation of the sexes. In the halls of the Zone Culture fest a young Bulgarian artist Angelica Radeva present her exhibition "Make me" including 11 paintings. She brilliantly demonstrates the endless expressions of the abstract painting.

On May 29 representatives of the art of cinema “BACK IN TIME” projected student films in various subjects.

On May 30 in Factory Urban Art actors presented a Psychodramatic Workshop and a Workshop "Almonds" - a joint challenge for the senses, thoughts and imagination as part of the Zone Culture Fest. They presented a project of Theatre atoms whose idea is to unite together independent artists and organizations from different fields of the arts. This event is a four-hour marathon in which the audience can circulate through all floors and can include in provocations prepared by artists.

On May 31, representatives of shop "Impression" demonstrated the various effects on the fabric with spray and paint of Marabou. Actors of Playback Theater realized an improvisation performance based on the personal stories of people in the audience. It has a structure, form and rhythm, but there is no script. The actors use their ability to listen, to go deep into the experiences and creativity of others and reproduce the stories of people. In same time musicians play spontaneously music for them in live. A young author Evelyn Dimitrov presented graphics with interesting name "Light of Shadows" in Communication room.

On June 1 (the day of the Childe), Rockacoca showed the world as they see it, namely their “Custom World”, in which the everyday familiar objects are transformed into something interesting, unique and different. Factory in Urban Art (Stock Exchange "Zimnitza" Vladaisko River 204) organized meetings and real communication between the people, where everyone can become part of the Social Sofia and to diversify your lives.

The events of the festival Zone Culture, with the support of the Sofia Municipality aim Sofia and South-West region of Bulgaria to become in the "European Capital of Culture 2019".

DIC 12
Info day at Western Greece Region about Smart Specialisation

3 December 2012, Patras, Greece

Western Greece Region organized at 3 December 2012 in Patras an info-day about Smart Specialisation. Smart Specialisation is a strategic approach to economic development through targeted support to Research and Innovation (R&I). It will be the basis for Structural Fund investments in R&I as part of the future Cohesion Policy's contribution to the Europe 2020 jobs and growth agenda. More generally, smart specialisation involves a process of developing a vision, identifying competitive advantage, setting strategic priorities and making use of smart policies to maximise the knowledge-based development potential of any region, strong or weak, high-tech or low-tech.

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Western Greece Region is among the 3 regions of Greece which have joined the S3 platform (

The info-day was actually a broad brain- storming between several stakeholders, research institutes and policy makers. There were 5 thematic subjects concerning new technologies, sustainable development, the agro-food sector, tourism/education/culture end finally new ways of entrepreneurship. The case of business incubators as also hubs, clusters, Key Enabling Technologies (ΚΕΤs), clusters were at the frontline of the interest.
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The info-day opened with speech by Mr Apostolos Katsifaras, Head of Western Greece Region, pointing out the importance WGR shows for new models of entrepreneurship based on innovation and specialised networks.

All the members of WGR’s INCOMPASS Regional Implementation Group (RIG) – formed at the 1st meeting of July 2012 – had invited to the info-day. There were interventions/suggestions by members of INCOMPASS project from Western Greece Region and University of Patras.

The info-day will be a basis for enriching the RIG’s composition, connecting and intergrading different European financial tools. The second meeting of INCOMPASS Regional Implementation Group (RIG) will be held up to 10 January 2013 at Patras.

DIC 12
Round table “Culture and Entrepreneurship – Best Cases from Sofia”

12 October 2012, Betahaus | Sofia – co-working space
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An ambitious round table event was organized in the city of Sofia on 12.10.2012 under the slogan “Culture and Entrepreneurship – Best Cases from Sofia” at Betahaus|Sofia. The initiative falls within the scope of "The intersection of Culture and Entrepreneurship – Best Cases from Sofia" project, developed by the Foundation for Urban Projects and Research and Sofia Municipality programme “Europe”. In that regard, the main focus of the gathering was directed at the presentation of variety of good examples for efficient and successful blends of culture and business in the different creative industries’ sub-sectors concentrated on the territory of the Bulgarian capital.

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Nine creative organizations’ presentations took place across three of the panels of the round table agenda: Rockacoca, Electric Force, Sprite Graffiti Fest, Time Аrt, Praktrik, Game Craft, Derida Dance Center, + tova and Shop By Many. The young entrepreneurs had the chance to touch upon good practices and pressing issues in respect to the topics Creative entrepreneurs and young audiences, Creative entrepreneurs and the new technologies and Spaces for creation and Spaces for selling.
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The forth panel was devoted to the guest of honour – Mr. Leo van Loon. He readily shared his experience as co-founder of the incubator Creative Factory Rotterdam and the European Creative Business Network and introduced effective formulas for stimulating creative entrepreneurship.
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The conceptual round table also extensively aimed at raising extra awareness about the creative industries’ great and mostly untapped potential among the responsible local authorities and the local society. In that regard, approximately 100 people attended the four panels of the creative convention and took active part in the thematic discussions, which were conducted. The representatives Sofia Municipality – Dr. Todor Chobanov, Deputy mayor on culture and education and InCompass project manager, other “Culture” directorate experts and Mrs. Irina Yordanova as Chair of the standing committee on European questions and civil society relations, engaged exclusively in various talks regarding the identified existing hurdles and barriers before the development of the creative entrepreneurship in Sofia.
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JUN 12
Co-working in Milan

Milan municipality meets the co-workers

June 25, Milan municipality (General directorate Innovation, Economic Development and University) organized a workshop focused on co-working practices present in Milan system.

Main objective of the event was create a forum about the theme of co-working through which public authority can learn more about the needs coming from this new model of work and provide innovative tools and instruments to help this sector.

Apart from local experiences (ACTA, CoWo, Hub Milano and Make a Cube) European experiences: “Le cantine” from Toulouse and Betahaus from Berlin attended the workshop, presenting their model..

This event was organized within the framework “fondata sul lavoro – confronti a Milano” an important initiative dedicated at employment and careers issues.

For further information about the event click here.

JUN 12
First graduates of the creative industries introduce themselves in their work

In 2008, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (VGTU) has launched the first study programme for creative industries in Lithuania. June 27th 2012 is a date when bachelor diploma ceremony for 32 creative industries students is held and the exhibition marking four-year of creative activities is opened.

"Students were expressing themselves as well as rendered creative expressions initiated by academic environment during these four years of study. Creativity was one of an integrative force of student groups that shaped mobile and changing groups, and resulted in the multifaceted outcomes. Different personalities, diverse contexts and specific creative directions raises the difficult challenge for the composition of the exhibition, but the goal remains simple – to deliver creative projects and a variety of creative expressions realised in four years," - described a coordinator of forthcoming exhibition, a graduate of creative industries Ignas Petronis.

The exhibition consists of two parts. In the first part works emphasizing the creative artistic expressions are presented. Photographs, objects, installations, videos, graphics, and painting as well as works – embodied in ideas about art and its understanding of the visual style, media opportunities, cultural movements taking place in the field are exhibited in this section. The second part of the exhibition is both an antithesis and a supplement to the first part. Here are exhibited complete works, ideological sketches, individual self-expressions as well as practical creative works: projects implemented during the period of studies, advertisements created by students, music video clips, photos from the study tours and other objects that do not fit into defined categories. This part of the exhibition aims to reveal how creative ideas are born, grow and mature as well as how students' creativity was expressed, and what were their main interest and self-expression fields. Each part of the exhibition connects the interaction between the different contexts of the authors, tools used, the views and aspirations.

Bachelor of Creative Industries welcomes the opportunity to show the exhibition and festival participants leaving little more than glossy shoes, collars and levelled just received diplomas.

Opening of the exhibition will take place in 2012, June 27th (Wednesday) 15 hour Faculty of Architecture courtyard at Pylimas str. 26/1, Vilnius, Lithuania.
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InCompass Project is funded by the EU’s European Regional Development fund through the INTERREG IVC programme