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18 · Jun 13 | Sofia Municipality, Bulgaria

The 2nd RIG’s meeting in Sofia took place on 18.06.2013. It was organised with the aim to introduce the observations of the first two fully completed study visit reports (Milan and Rotterdam) and the very first impressions from the later ones. At its Ceremonial hall, Sofia Municipality hosted representatives of Sofia Development Association, Observatory of Cultural Economics, Foundation for Urban Projects and Research, Sofia Foundation for Culture and Art, ICT cluster, Regional business incubator Rila, ICT Cluster – Sofia and etc.
Image - PictureDr. Todor Chobanov, deputy mayor on education and culture, welcomed the stakeholders, stressing the role which a creative business incubator (CBI) could play for the regional development. He expressed political will for giving place for such an initiative. All participants agreed that it would have positive impacts but some doubts occurred about its focus. The stakeholders agreed to proceed with further accumulation of good practices and ideas, and then, step-by-step, to start structural decision making process in order to formulate the accents of the future local policy.
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Luba Bencheva, moderator of the meeting, emphasised on the role of public-private partnerships as a good practice for launching CBIs. She made a brief presentation of Milan’s experience in stimulating CBIs in fashion and design.
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Botyo Botev, expert in Sofia Municipality, presented his expressions from the CBIs visited in Rotterdam – Creative Factory, RDM Campus, and DNAMO.

Liliya Georgieva, project manager and co-ordinator responsible for project InCompass in Sofia Municipality, asked for longer duration of the next meetings and offered some interesting ideas for discussion.
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Prof. Plamen Djurov, distinguished public man and expert, gave his support to her idea to organise open competition for generating proposals about the focus, aims, scope, structure, exterior, and interior of a CBI in Sofia.

Special importance was put on the challenges and opportunities which the policy makers in Sofia (and Bulgaria) will face during the integration of different aims, targets, strategies, and etc. concerning creative industries, business incubation and sustainability.

The following issues arose:

  1. If and if yes – how to engage the bank sector in development of creative industries? It was mentioned that during the next programming period (2014-2020) Culture Programme would be transformed in Creative Europe Programme with special focus on guarantee fund for cultural development initiatives, where banks from all over Europe would be attracted as partners. This is a great opportunity for Bulgaria to strengthen creative start ups and to support the creation and sustainable functioning of CBIs in the future.
  2. If and if yes – how to boost public-private partnerships? It was obvious for some of the participants that the Operating programmes for Bulgaria should be re-structured in order to facilitate inter-institutional and public-private forms of partnerships? The public sector could take part with land grants or other in-kind support at the beginning and smoothly to become moderator and controller while the private sector and NGOs could take leadership at the mature phases as managers, business advisors, know-how transfer officers, and etc.
  3. Which creative sectors have enough strengths and willingness to prove themselves as sustainable and thus to participate in CBI in Sofia? It was mentioned that the computer games industry had good potential to grow in Sofia. Some potential could be seen in craftsmanship and folklore, applied and performance arts. Such industries could have additional social effect and foster touristic industry. An idea for renovation of old urban space or an open area as a place for CBI was discussed.  
The following were pointed out as future steps:
  1. Development of an Advisory Committee (“Expert council”) in order to deepen the analyses and generate suggestions for potential approaches for good practices adaptation.
  2. Accumulation of new stakeholders from creative industries and culture.
  3. Organisation of competition for generating proposals about CBI in Sofia as a down- up decision making process facilitator and tool to attract and to involve the real entrepreneurs from creative industries to help RIG during the development of regional implementation plan.
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InCompass Project is funded by the EU’s European Regional Development fund through the INTERREG IVC programme