The likelihood of business start-ups to succeed is increased if they are located in an incubator facility during their establishment. This is also the case for creative sector companies. Organza project analyzed a number of incubators which combined both the intangible services that such incubator often offers to its companies (business advice, networking, training, etc.) as well as the physical location that many incubators entail (office space, places to meet and network, etc.). Incubators vary significantly from case to case and that the composition of services offered and the identity they have in the region they belong to depends to a large extend on the institution that manages it, the mission it has, the cost start-upper have to face and the presence of other institutions/partner/investors.
A macro distinction we underline in our first research is among Public and Private incubators. Public incubators have a mid-term perspective, a good quality of standard services and sometimes access to EU resources and local administration initiatives. Private Incubators usual are more reactive on a time to market basis, they offer interesting capital for the initial investment and a good network of associated companies. According to our research, the success factors we have individuated during our survey is the presence of a powerful network of existing traditional sectors (universities, company associations, local administration) investing their effort on initiatives aiming at stimulating a new environment for the growth of new creative ideas. The city of Nottingham has bring to our attention the best example of this kind of approach with The Hive, the incubator of Nottingham Trent University, and Confetti Media Group, a consortium of companies which offers a wide range of services and up to date technological structures to support creative business with specific focus on the media sector. Two pilot actions have been undertaken in this field by Treviso and Bremen. In particular, the pilot work plan of Treviso foreseen a detailed analysis of The Hive selection service before starting the incubation phase, in order to reply this method in the tutoring services of the Business Incubator “La Fornace” in the city of Asolo (TV). This is because of the high percentage of successful businesses after 3 years from the exit (about 80%) in order to individuate the methodology applied to select in the most effective way the most structured and potentially successful new start-ups. Through the other pilot, Bremen aims at creating a co-working space for creative people in one dismissed building of the city, already designed in the city plan as an interactive and collaborative place for creative people, and Confetti – Antenna was chosen for its innovative ways to approach business, education and social attitude which can convey positive vibrations to a new born creative space.
Partners Involved: Treviso – Nottingham
Stakeholders involved: Fondazione “La Fornace” di Asolo – The Hive
Purpose and scope was clearly defined from the beginning? Overall mission achieved? Fondazione la Fornace and Treviso Tecnologia are partners in the development of action tailored to improve the innovative attitude of local young entrepreneurs. Therefore since the first version the work plan has been focused in developing the capacity of the tutoring service of La Fornace to better understand the potential of the aspirant entrepreneurs. The pilot action addressed mainly business incubator selection and tutoring services, since the incubator will be the main vehicle for the transfer of new methodology for assisting business start-ups. The pilot action, in its starting phase, aimed also at connecting different audience through collateral events, such as the one held at Spazio Paraggi in April 2012 in the frame of the networking pilot. This kind of event, that are going to be repeated in the coming months, will help disseminate information about the services available at the Fornace, since the dislocated venues of the business incubator can be a disadvantage for having a significant number of clients.
The pilot Fondazione La Fornace is enthusiastic about the information received about the tutoring service implemented by The Hive. In particular they are very keen in developing what The Hive calls “the germination phase”, namely the Head Start programme of 13 weeks during which a tutor helps a potential entrepreneur to go in detail in all the aspects of the business idea, and make them better understand if their idea can actually work. Indeed, this is the necessity of the Business incubator La Fornace: improve their capability of selecting good idea, before give them the chance to stay in the incubator. This will help to maintain a high level of quality in start-up, which is not so easy to maintain in a period of social disease for young people seeking for a job, resulting in an increasing number of “one man” companies.
The proper target group has been identified? In this first stage of the pilot action, due also to the short timing at disposition to develop the action, the attention was converted mainly to the business incubator tutoring and managing staff, that in the second phase of the programming will be in charge of transferring the new methodology to potential start-ups. A further forecasted, yet not easy to achieve, step will be the creation of an international networking of start-ups which will amplify the potential of local activities through the exchange of good practices among incubators and new businesses. The contact with The Hive could be considered the milestone for a change of perspective toward a more international behaviour of the incubator.
How the communication with stakeholders worked? The communication worked smoothly thank to the existing good relations between Treviso Tecnologia and Fondazione La Fornace. The communication and reporting proceeded smoothly and the organization of meeting, travels and work plans followed the foreseen path. The natural evolution of this pilot action will be a more direct approach to the basins of potential users of the Incubator’s services, so once the new tutoring proposal will be implemented, totally or partially, the problem to be tackled would be a capillary diffusion of information about the incubator services. This will hopefully bring grasp the attention of private investors which, once they recognized the importance of this service for the territory, will help in to create a closest connection between the incubator services and the business background of the territory, improving in this way the acknowledgment of the incubator and its services.
Any budget matters? For a basic activity, no budget problems where faced during the pilot implementation. Also, looking at the proceeding of the implementation plan after the pilot’s end, the inception of the methodology will not imply the availability of extra budget to put it on the test. Nevertheless, an increased budget effort in order to better fit the spaces for a more flexible approach to “unusual” businesses, and training staff of the incubator to this new approach. Stating that in this period we are facing a reduction of funds coming from public Local and Regional administration, the chance to exploit this kind of support cannot be taken into consideration, while the perfect approach would be the individuation of strategic partners and investors that could sponsor the activities of the incubators. This would mean an increased awareness of local stakeholders about the importance of promoting creative enterprises to local and regional development through dedicated spaces for their growth.
The Risks foreseen have occurred? How they have been managed? Did they effect the outcomes? No risks but worries about the timing that will be required for implementing this new approach in the standard serviced of the incubator of La Fornace. Also, another question mark pending on the development of the action is the changing director of the Fornace, that my cause some delay in the new activities approval. Nevertheless, the proposal has been issued and will be finalized as soon as the new director will be appointed.
Possible further cooperation with municipality? The cooperation with the municipality has already been established, since the Chamber of Commerce of Treviso and Treviso local government are participating to the budget of the incubator La Fornace. Nevertheless, a networking support in order to better spread in the territory the information about the incubator services and bring its presence to the attention of other strategic stakeholders (University, Business Associations, ectc..) would be the right way to formally recognize the importance of this kind of support to sustain the economic growth of the region. Treviso Tecnologia plans to propose the creation of informal meeting on a regular basis, thanks also to its network of contacts, in order to link the Fornace incubator, the University and the Business sector of the city.
Partners Involved: Bremen – Nottingham
Stakeholders involved: City of Bremen - Confetti Group
The pilot action involving the partner of Bremen has been included in a more general requalification plan of the city, which sees the renewal of a former Liquor Factory “Jürgensen” to the new destination of a space for creative businesses. The best practice that more could give precious hints to create a stimulating environment for young creatives by offering interactive and collaborative place with a number of facilities such as a café bar, co-working possibilities and mixed large and small offices.
Purpose and scope was clearly defined from the beginning? Overall mission achieved? The development of the pilot action was ensured by the already existing plan of city development. Therefore, the creation of dedicated spaces for co-working and cooperation activities which Bremen has selected as its pilot action in the Organza Project fitted in a perfect way to the needs of the city development plan, and helped the action to shift from the state of proposal to an on-going activity.
The proper target group has been identified? The target group of the pilot action are mostly young entrepreneurs and creatives in a start-up and pre-start-up phase. The feedback on the pilot activities is positive but obviously not of a concluding character because the work is in progress. The target group was properly addressed.
How the communication with stakeholders worked? The communication with local stakeholders worked very well since, as stated before the pilot action work plan has become part of a more extensive plan of urban developing of the city. This meant that the path to be followed was already open and the communications channel with stakeholders where already opened to discussion. Moreover, the city of Bremen.
The Risks foreseen have occurred? How they have been managed? Did they effect the outcomes? The foreseen risks didn’t occur in the expected way, because the dynamic of the new development of the former liquor factory Jürgensen focussed the energy and work and helped to make the discussions with stakeholders concrete.