Financially sustainable creative incubations units
Incompass Project View information in English | Greek | Spanish


The InCompass project aims to support the self-sustainability of creative incubator units and enable them to develop and share innovative methods to move away from a general dependence on public funding.

Co-financed by the EU’s European Regional Development fund through the INTERREG IVC Programme, the project objective is to inform on and stimulate collaborative development of local, regional, national and EU policy and thereby increase the capacity to create more spaces for experiment, innovation and entrepreneurship in the creative industries, and to enable them to provide a driver for sustainable growth and job creation as stated in the Lisbon Agenda.



Incubator units for creative industries business start ups provide much needed space and act as vital support mechanisms and catalysts for the development of entrepreneurship and innovation in this sector right across the EU.

The creative industries (e.g. Advertising, Textiles, Fashion, Television & Radio, Photo Imaging, Graphic Design and Interactive Media, Publishing, Animation, Computer Games, Film and Commercials Production and Post Production) provide significant employment opportunities, and are now recognised as one of "Europe’s most dynamic sectors" (EU green paper: Unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries"), with strong potential to contribute to growth and job creation.

However, most survive only with some Regional Authority funding or subsidy and, with the current public funding cutbacks, many are now facing serious threats to their financial survival and ability to realise their full potential as a force for change and economic development.

While much research in previously funded projects has focused on the role and value of specific activities undertaken within creative incubator units, InCompass will focus exclusively on how they can become independently financially sustainable. Using a number of existing incubator units across the EU as the main study vehicle, the project will identify a number of existing good practices that are already providing levels of financial security and transfer them for collective adoption into, and improvement of, regional policy. The adoption into policy of the combinations of these good practices will potentially offer "total financial sustainability solutions".


  1. To identify existing, innovative good practice that contributes towards the achievement of financial sustainability of incubation units for business start-ups in the creative industries.
  2. To assess and test the transferable nature of these good practices between regions for local implementation and adoption into policy, thereby making a significant contribution to evidence-based regional policy making and improvement.
  3. To develop practical and realistic implementations plans for the transfer and application of good practice and improvement in regional policy across all regions.

  1. To undertake a programme of transnational research and analysis – the project will look at existing and emerging innovative practice in how incubator units can become less dependent on public funding, and how regional policies covering the development and financial sustainability of these units can be improved by the adoption of the project findings.
  2. To exchange information about the good practice within the consortium and adopt the new good practices identified across regions.
  3. To inform and influence the regional policy makers associated with the consortium, and across the EU, and secure the political commitment to ensure full use is made of the implementation pans developed
  4. To disseminate the findings of good practice and recommendations for policy improvement identified by the project as widely as possible across the EU.


InCompass Project involves a programme of Study Visits and Reports on good practice; Thematic Seminars to share the findings within the consortium; and Regional Implementation Groups (RIGs) of stakeholders to assess the transferability of good practice and make regional policy recommendations.

For this purpose, three workgroups has been set up to analyse 3 different aspects of the financial sustainability of creative incubator units:

WG 1 – Commercial contextualisation: the role that commercial activities can play in seeding, developing and supporting examples of successful cluster operation.

Within creative incubators, the commercial contextualisation of their financing is mainly about finding the optimal balance between keeping fees and rents as low as possible to new incubatees in a very infant stage and gradually increasing fees and rents with their increasing financial capacity with survival and growth. In addition, it is also about renting out services, facilities and spaces to external companies and institutions at commercial fees.

WG 2 – Social contextualization: the role of social activity in supporting successful and financially resilient specialist clusters.

The contribution of social activities to financial sustainability of creative incubators is mostly founded on forms of informal learning by interchange of information, ideas and knowledge. It is mainly mediation activities that connect incubatees to each other and to stakeholders in the outside world that facilitate informal learning.

WG 3 – Tiers of support, networks and partnerships

The topics of interest for WG3 include all sorts of more or less organized and planned forms of networks and partnerships both within the incubators and with external partners that have favourable effects on the profitability of either individual incubatees or the incubator itself.

From research of the findings of similarly themed projects, and recommendations within the project partnership, suitable creative incubator units for Study visits will be indentified that are most likely to show good practice in areas that can impact positively on financial sustainability and show greatest opportunity for transfer and policy improvement.

These Workgroups will each undertake at  least 4 Study Visits to incubator spaces, and prepare reports on their findings and instances of good practice, where identified. These reports will then be disseminated at 12 Thematic Seminars held as part of regular Partner Meetings over the lifetime of the project. This will result in the transfer of good practices between partners and implementing actions to improve the financial sustainability of incubator units via the Regional Implementation Groups.

Following this methodology, the project will deliver the following outputs and results: minimum 12 case study visits; 12 thematic seminars; and 12 Regional Implementation Plans with recommendations for policy improvements.
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InCompass Project is funded by the EU’s European Regional Development fund through the INTERREG IVC programme