Financially sustainable creative incubations units


DEC 14
InCompass gets started on the Regional Implementation Plans:
The Medway Proposal

The Medway Regional Implementation Plan (RIP) has been finalised following consultation with Regional Implementation Group members. The approach of the Medway RIP has been to create a framework of a range of projects to support the development of creative industries going forward.

Together, this framework of projects is intended to create a strategic approach that provides the basis for increased collaborative activity among regional partners. This is reflective of the consensus that emerged among partners in the development of the RIP, in that individual partner resources are being increasingly restricted, and that closer collaboration on projects was both necessary and desirable.

Dissemination of best practices observed from the InCompass project has provided a significant amount of assistance to Medway partners in conceiving the framework of projects that now populate the Medway RIP, as evidenced in the proposed projects and activities below. The proposed projects are intended to provide a guide and reference point to policy makers and funders, and are currently at different stages of development.
  • Strategic partnership – Medway will establish a formal partnership to provide a strategic overview of the creative industries activity in the region. It will apply some of the best practices observed among partners in Medway to ensure a greater level of collaboration between RIP projects.
  • Medway Incubator – Medway partners have met with the Director of the Centre of Creative Collaboration to discuss their management and financial model for an incubator, with a view to developing something similar in Medway.
  • Small business finance scheme – Medway partners will extend current business loan projects to specifically target the creative industries sector, making use of the model observed at Cockpit Arts. The project will provide additional support to the work of other RIP projects, including the Medway incubator.
  • Business Development vehicle – Medway proposes to set up an expert support structure to work with new creative businesses in a similar way to the support provided by Cockpit Arts. This project is yet to be agreed, but it is anticipated that it will work closely with the proposed incubator project.
  • Specialist training programme – Medway is considering a model, the ‘coding academy’ that is run by Camden Collective, and is currently considering how Medway could adapt this model.
  • Event programme – Medway partners propose to emulate the example provided by Carnival Lab in Patras by working with Medway Council to explore opportunities for new creative businesses to supply creative services to existing Council events.
  • Music venue – Medway partners are currently in negotiation over establishing a multi-purpose music venue, operated on a non-profit basis in Medway.
  • Creative Agency – the Medway RIP proposes to extend an agency project currently underway in Mid Kent College, which provides students with opportunities to work on commercial projects.

DEC 14
InCompass in the Creative Workshop 2014

12 Dec 2014, Athens

Image - Picture The Western Region of Greece participated to The Creative Workshop 2014, organised by the Regional Development Institute of Panteion University and held in Athens on the 12th of December. The agenda of the conference focused on the economic recession and the creative ways that will lead us to the path of economic growth and prosperity. The 31 speakers were individuals from the academia and the business sector that their area of expertise lies on the creativity. The workshop was divided into seven sessions, each one focused on different aspects of the creative sector:
  • Economic Crisis Political and Creative Forces
  • The Creative Economy of Athens
  • Symbolics Markets: Supply & Demand
  • Creative Clusters
  • Creative City & Local Developmen
  • Creative & Cultural Industries: Issues of Management, Supply & New Technologies
  • Local Development, Culture and Policies
The presentation of InCompass project took place on the session of creative clusters and the public was really interested to hear the project results.

All in all was an informative and enlightening experience that hopefully opened ways to tackling successfully economic issues.

NOV 14
InCompass Best Practices Toolkit

18 Nov 2014, Brussels

At the InCompass Final Conference on 18 November in Brussels, project partner Delft University of Technology  presented the Best Practices Toolkit.  The Toolkit presents, in a structured way, a number of observed best practices and their application in various incubators and regions. These best practices are based on study visits to 29 incubators in seven regions in different parts of Europe. Thus, on the one hand it provides dedicated ‘tools’ to local and regional policy-makers and other actors involved in the management of creative incubators, and on the other hand it also serves to present the results of InCompass in an accessible way to a broader audience.

The Toolkit presents the outcomes of InCompass on a project level, and as such is complementary to the Regional Implementation Plans that will be developed in all partner cities and regions. Besides the best practices, it discusses the cases visited, the research process and the transfer and implementation of practices. Successful transfer and implementation of practices requires detailed information not just on the region of origin of a practices but also on the region of destination, by way of ‘dual contextualization’. The latter is particularly relevant with regard to the impact of the project beyond the current project consortium and project period.

The presentation of the Toolkit was followed by brief reflections by Astrid Severin (Greenovate Europe) and Michele Coletti (independent consultant for the Province of Milan). They emphasised the important of transfer of practices and the need to critically regard the possible roles of regional policy-makers in this.

The Toolkit has been developed as an interactive pdf and has been distributed at the InCompass Final Conference and via the project website.

SEP 14
InCompass in European City of Culture Conference in Sweden

23-24 Sep 2014, Umeå (Sweden)

Image - Picture As part of the European City of Culture 2014 programme, the Swedish city Umeå hosted a conference where the InCompass project was presented.

The conference took place on the 23-24 of September at the Umeå art campus. There were about 200 delegates present. The focus of the conference was the interface between culture-driven growth and sustainable urban development. The conference also addressed the topic of entrepreneurship and enterprise development within the cultural and creative industries. Among the participants were representatives from government ministries, government agencies, county administrative boards, regions, municipalities, scholars and industry organisations and others involved in local and regional development including urban planning.

The conference was moderated by Rasmus Wiinstedt Tscherning, Roskilde, Denmark, Center for Cultural and Experience Economy (CKO) and the European Creative Industries Alliance (ECIA).

Diane Milne from Dundee City Council presented highlights from the InCompass project. She was accompanied by David Pello and Lucia Arias from LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial in Gijon in northern Spain, which was part of the InCompass study visit programme in Astuarias. David and Lucia talked about how they work to establish a community of creative people, a theme of great interest to many towns throughout Europe especially those facing industrial changes. The project explores many innovative ways to engage both students, school children, teachers and artists in creative experiments using traditional art and digital techniques.  It wouldn’t be surprising if we were to see more cooperation across Europe among Fab Labs and similar initiatives.

OCT 14
Extraordinary RIG meeting in Rotterdam – Delft area

12 Nov 2014, The Hague (Netherlands)

Partner 3 in InCompass, Delft University of Technology, organizes a workshop on the project during the international event Dutch Incubation Forum that will be held Wednesday 12 November in The Hague (Netherlands). All active parts during the workshop - speakers, panel chairman and panel members roles – are played by members of the Regional Implementation Group on the region Rotterdam – Delft. The workshop may not only yield valid input for the Regional Implementation Plan for this region, but is also an excellent platform for dissemination of InCompass project as a whole. The expected total number of visitors to this and one parallel workshop is 150. The Dutch Incubation Forum is the 2014 edition of an event organized annually by the Dutch Incubation Association (DIA). The general objective of this repetitive symposium is to strengthen the position of the infrastructure in the Netherlands for growth and development of ambitious pioneers in the enterprising ecosystem of innovative production.

MAY 14
From Brussels with love: some interesting observation for InCompass

22 May 2014, Brussels

Thursday 22 May, 450 participants in INTERREG IVC projects from 26 countries, including a number of experts in thematic capitalisation and selected speakers in thematic workshops, gathered together at the event ‘Policy learning, policy sharing’ in Brussels. The event was held in the Wild Gallery; a composite of four spaces designed according to a modular system in the former principal seat of the Diamond Board.  Due to its large size of over 2.000 sq m of floor space and ceilings of 5 m high, the building is well equipped for such large events.

To stimulate policy learning and policy sharing between the representatives of IVC projects that were present at the event, the major part of the event consisted of 3 rounds of 4 parallel thematic workshops, plenty of time for spontaneous meets and greets during breaks in between the workshops, and a ‘networking cocktail’ as a closing session. Together, the themes of the 12 workshops covered the entire scope of INTERREG IVC. The most relevant ones for InCompass that could be selected to visit were entitled Creative Industries and Innovation Capacity of SMEs.

The Creative Industries workshop started with basic statistics: a total of 385 good practices [at the time of the event] were collected from 14 projects. The largest share of these (43%) aim at strengthening companies in creative industries (by coaching, clustering etc.). The second largest group (31%) address pre-conditions to establishing creative industries policies. And the remainder 26% of the practices focus on strengthening spillover effects of creative industries with other sectors of the economy, including public policies as such. In line with the central objective of INTERREG IVC, reflected in the title of the event, these are good practices with the aim to influence and improve policy making. Two observations in particular made during the workshop are consistent with observations made in the course of InCompass. Firstly, involvement of creative industries in the regional innovation system is a priority for state-of-the-art renewal of creative industries policies. Secondly, innovation in creative industry development is crucial for survival but needs investment. So, future financial sustainability of creative incubators is not merely an issue of public budget cuts. For the complete .ppt presentation, see:


The workshop Innovation Capacity of SMEs underlined the crucial importance of this capacity for Europe’s economic competitiveness and growth but also observed a worsened performance on important indicators of this capacity, first and foremost due to the economic downturn. The following five key-barriers for regional or local policy makers to tackle were identified:
  • difficulty in accessing funding for innovation projects, 
  • difficulty in accessing international markets for innovations,
  • shortages of skills to manage innovations,
  • lack of research and technological capabilities,
  • weakness in networking and cooperation with (external) innovation stakeholders.

The good news is that a total of 93 good practices and policy measures from 7 IVC projects address these barriers, with a minimum of 9 per barrier. Given the difficulty to separate between good practices for respectively incubator and incubatee development that InCompass faces already since its very beginning, several of these practices sound familiar to the project partners. These are for instance voucher schemes and bank loans by regional authorities and venture capital funds; programmes to improve management skills of start-ups; mechanisms to transfer knowledge and research findings form knowledge institutions to start-ups; and (in)formal ways to improve networks of cooperation of start-ups.

APR 14
Two days with a focus on cultural and creative industries

6-7 March 2014, Malmö

6-7 March 2014 were 140 people in Malmö to take part in seminars and discussions focusing on national and regional development work in the cultural and creative industries.
Image - Picture Photo: Tony Meurke, programme manager at Tillväxtverket presented some facts about InCompass.

The conference was organized by the the Swedish Agency of Economic and Regional Growth (Tillväxtverket) and Region Skåne, together with the Media Evolution and offered speakers from both the public sector and from industry.

Among others spoke ministry secretary Katarina Höög from the Ministry of Culture along with Henrietta Schönenstern from the Ministry of the key findings and lessons learned from work with the Government's action plan for KKN 2009-2012. Other names on the list where , among others, Tony Meurke from the Agency, which told of the results of the Interreg IVC-project InCompass, and Alders from Anagram , who shared their work to build a culture conglomerate with festivals and events mixed with productions for film, television and digital channels.
Image - Picture Photo: Therese Lily Caption: Alders, CEO, Anagram, including buying up the production company Pocket Film, where Tillväxtverket co-financed the development of specific applications for the future of  Television.

Take part of the full report of proceedings from the date on (Only in Swedish).

OCT 13
Medway Council to host the seventh study visit in February 2014

25 - 27 February 2014, Medway and London

On Tuesday 25th February 2014, Medway Council will host the seventh study visit of the INCOMPASS Project. Partners will spend 3 days in Medway and London visiting creative incubators and places such as Camden, Shoreditch and Trinity Buoy Wharf in London, the Historic Maritime Dockyard of Chatham and Rochester High Street in Medway. Geographically close to London, Medway has seen its creative community increase over the past few years and has engaged in economic regeneration thanks to the creative sector. Medway Council is involved with significant organisations such as Arts Council of England and successfully runs local festivals such as the Dickens festival and FUSE Medway and a film festival.
Image - Picture Medway Council is lead partner in an INTERREG IV A project called RECREATE which aims to regenerate town centres, in France and in England, by refurbishing empty spaces and turning them in creative workspaces or pop-up shops for small entrepreneurs. During the partner meeting, partners will have the opportunity to visit Sun Pier House, the site chosen by Medway Council to be refurbished as part of the project and located in the emerging the creative quarter of Chatham.

The visit will also look at two differing models of creative business incubation through the Joiner’s Shop project (operated by a workspace charity with the support of the local university), and Project 161 (an independent peer-based incubation facility).

The study visit will include a number of creative incubators across London using a variety of business models – from purely private not-for-profit companies such as Cockpit Arts, to not-for-profit companies that have emerged from a public sector environment (Camden Collective and CIDA). The tour will also include incubators aligned to universities such as Accelerator London, DMIC Ravensbourne and the Centre for Creative Collaboration.

The visit will aim to provide partners with an understanding of approaches to creative incubation, from a cross-section of projects – many of which have no on-going public sector grant support. The visit will also look to identify a ‘menu’ of interventions and approaches that can be replicated by partners, while looking to demonstrate as far as possible the financial story behind each project.

Workshop ‘Financing Creative Enterprise Centres in the EU Policy Context’

18 June 2013, Rotterdam, Creative Factory

On behalf of InCompass, Arie Romein from Delft University of Technology participated in the one-day workshop ‘Financing Creative Enterprise Centres in the EU Policy Context’, which took place on 18 June 2013 in the Creative Factory in Rotterdam. The workshop was part of a research project entitled ‘An examination of the contribution of creative enterprise centres to the development of more sustainable communities’, carried out by the University of East London, the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences and the Erasmus University Rotterdam, and co-financed by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (UK) and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research NWO.

The objective of the project was to encourage knowledge transfer between creative enterprise centres (CEC) across the UK and Netherlands. In particular, it sought to identify and examine strengths and weaknesses of different ways of developing creative enterprise centres, strategies to finance these, and their socio-economic impacts on the surrounding neighbourhoods. In order to do this, it ran four workshops with CEC managers, academics and grass-root organisations from across the UK and Netherlands. These workshops were held in turns in London and Rotterdam during 2012-2013 and included a range of discussions based on presentations by various stakeholders. For a broader perspective, the project also included practices of CECs from third countries, i.e. Spain, Italy, Slovakia and Denmark.

In addition to contributing to the discussion during the day, Arie Romein gave a presentation of the interim results of InCompass, entitled ‘Supporting the self-sustainability of creative incubators: the EU-project InCompass’.

See also

InCompass Project participates at “Ilia of Extroversion and Innovation” Development Forum

14 October 2013, Labour Centre of Amaliada, Greece

The event of the DEVELOPMENT FORUM with subject “Ilia of Extroversion and Innovation” took place on Monday 14 October 2013, at 18:00 pm in the hall of the Labour Centre of Amaliada under the auspices of Ilida Municipality.

Aiming at the widest regional priority for Extroversion Everywhere and at strengthening the relationship between Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the organizers invited specialists to state their point of view. The conclusions of the event, which is included as part of the 2013 events of the DEVELOPMENT FORUM, are expected to contribute, together with the significant work done by the organizers in Achaia and Aitoloakarnania, in creating a useful “agenda of priorities” for extroversion and innovation. Apart from the organizers and speakers, the Mayor of Ilida Mr. Giannis Lymperis and the President of the Commercial Association of Amaliada Mr. Petros Papadatos also attended the event. Representatives from the InCompass project also participated in the event.

In detail, Kostas Tsekouras and Christos Bouras, Professors at the University of Patras, made a presentation with title “Local government, Extroversion and Innovation: Best Practices from Abroad”. During this presentation, the InCompass project was introduced to the participants together with the good practices that were identified at the Study Visits that have taken place so far (in Rotterdam, Milan, Malmoe, Beja). In addition, the way that these best practices can be applied in Western Greece Region was also discussed.

You can access more information at:

JUL 13
InCompass presented at the AESOP-ACSP Joint Congress ‘Planning for resilient cities and regions’

15-19 July 2013, Dublin

The global AESOP-ACSP Joint Congress ‘Planning for resilient cities and regions’, held from 15 to 19 July in Dublin, is one of the main conferences where academics meet regional planners and policy-makers. This makes the conference an excellent dissemination forum for projects and research in the field of regional policy-making, such as InCompass. In view of this Arie Romein and Jan Jacob Trip from Delft University of Technology presented two papers in Dublin based on the results of InCompass. The first, ‘Creativity-led regeneration: towards an evaluation framework’, was written in cooperation with Jeannette Nijkamp from Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, and was partly based on Working Group 2 of InCompass, particularly on the case of the Creative Factory visited during the Rotterdam study visit. The second paper, ‘Towards financial sustainability of creative incubators in times of austerity’, provided an overview of practices observed in the first three study visits, and gave an outlook on the possible implications for regional policy. Both papers were received well and provided many starting points for discussion. They may be obtained from or

DIC 12
Collaboration is the Key!

Collaboration is the key to open innovation and creativity is a key agent of collaboration. Based on this rationale, the INTERREG IVC projects CREA.RE, SEE Platform, ORGANZA, Creative Metropoles and InCompass have embarked on a process to intensify cooperation by examining the potential of joint activities.

The creative industries are the focus in each project and it quickly became evident that sharing experiences to develop a joint set of policy recommendations could enhance their impact. Consequently, in a workshop initiated and hosted by CREA.RE and moderated by SEE, the projects employed creative, inclusive and design techniques to share experiences of the barriers facing the better use of the CCI in Europe and generate proposals for tackling them. Some of the barriers stem from the most fundamental challenge of defining the creative and cultural industries and capturing their impact and analysing the metrics. Other thematic challenges then emerged relating to: skills, education and research; awareness, support and promotion; and regional and/or national governance and funding.

Key policy recommendations aimed at local, regional and national government as well as the European Commission were developed and included in a report that presents the key challenges to the better use of the CCI in Europe. This document is intended to be a think piece for discussion among the actors in Europe’s CCI arena and was validated by the INTERREG IVC projects representing over 60 European stakeholders. Above all, it is intended to be a living document for the projects to continue their activities beyond the end of their INTERREG IVC project funding and is open for adaptation and re-interpretation.

It was officially presented during the Final Conference of the CREA.RE project in Gent in November to the European Commission, represented by Mrs. Hélène-Diane Dage, Deputy Head of Unit, DG Enterprise and Industry and to the European Creative Industries Alliance, represented by its chairman, Mr. Rasmus Wiinstedt Tscherning, Managing Director of the Center for Experience Economy, Denmark.

You can download the report and reccomendations from the InCompass website at
Image - Picture From left to right: Rasmus Wiinstedt Tscherning, Chairman of European Creative Industries Alliance; Esther Ruiten, ORGANZA coordinator; Anna Whicher, SEE platform coordinator; Steve Harding, Creative Metropoles coordinator; Andrew Mackenzie, InCompass project manager; Hélène-Diane Dage, European Commission/ Deputy Head of Unit at DG Enterprise & Industry; Lucia Seel, CREA.RE project manager).

DIC 12
Greece, the host of the next InCompass Study Visit

After the Malmoe’s study visit, Greece’s study visit is being programmed around 1-15 June 2013 (exact dates to be defined regarding the Portugal’s study visit somewhere around 15-21/4 /2013 or 16-18/5/2013).

While the program has to be definite , there are two main organizations to visit:

1) Patras Science Park

PSP is an organization of a particular structure, establishing mechanisms and services primarily targeted on promoting the creation, operation and growth of "innovative firms". Firms may be characterized as "innovative" if their activities are based on innovative technology know-how. In other words, an innovative firm is focused on rapidly converting the results of scientific research into commercial success. For this reason, innovative firms are also known as "high growth enterprises".

2)Patras InnoHub

The InnoHub operates with the same high quality standard as the very successful and multiply awarded Athens InnoCenter, and is designed to accelerate the successful development of innovative companies in Western Greece through an array of business support resources and one-stop-shop services, developed and orchestrated by Hellenic Tecnology Clusters Initiative.  The InnoHub dedicates its resources primarily to start-up and early-stage companies, however, small & medium companies and corporates may also find here a cost-effective place to setup their branch offices to get access to Western Greece markets and Patras’ pool of talent.

NOV 12
InCompass Project Partner Meeting and Study visit in Malmö, Lund and Copenhagen
Image - PictureTillväxtverket, the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth,will host the next study visit covering Sweden and Denmark on 28-30 November and the Steering Group Meeting. The third study visit of the InCompass Project will present the Partners the successful creative incubators of Media Evolution City, MINC, Ideon and Danish Design Center.

SEP 12
Baltic Dynamics Conference in Lithuania

Regional Implementation Group (RIG) of InCompass project will meet for the second time on 14 September, 2012 during an international conference Baltic Dynamics 2012 which will be held on 13-15 September in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. The Conference is an annually organised initiative of Baltic countries aiming at a promotion of international co-operation in the fields of innovation, SMEs support and technology transfer. This year’s Conference will aim at a promotion of innovativeness among policy makers, business, science, education and society.

FEB 12
InCompass Project participates in IF
Image - Picture On 27-28 February, some 300 policy-makers and practitioners gathered in Milan (Italy) for the official launch of the European Creative Industries Alliance (ECIA) during the Innovation Festival Finale. This event brought together for the first time the 28 partner organisations from 12 countries that build the core of the ECIA. The conference began with policy discussions highlighting the importance of creative industries and how these industries can better be supported in Europe. During the two days meeting, InCompass’ coordinator, Andy Mckenzie, has the opportunity to present the project.
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InCompass Project is funded by the EU’s European Regional Development fund through the INTERREG IVC programme