Although very well-developed, the entrepreneur ecosystem in Leeuwarden and Friesland is more geared towards the technology sector than the tourism and culture and creative industry (CCI). Through interregional discussions in ECoC-SME project, similar struggles – and with them interests – in improving the accessibility to CCI within local/ regional their start-up ecosystems were voiced by other partners.

Concrete examples of Good Practice and Action Plan proposals from other regions have inspired us to also take a closer look at our own start-up ecosystem.

In Timisoara, the Faber-community and their “capacity-building” programmes gave us insights on their private efforts to strengthen the local creative ecosystem, and their willingness to contribute to the Timisoara 2023 ECoC year.

Rijeka inspired us with their programme to enhance entrepreneurial skills in children. It is important to stress that those skills are not necessarily about making lots of money, but learning to see new opportunities, creating new points of view, and adjusting to new circumstances – especially in the CCI.

Kaunas’ ideas festival reminded us to draw upon the broader context and include citizens, students and organisations from other than the usual suspects that are involved in the development of a start-up ecosystem. Their action “More Kaunastic start-ups” taught us that investments in young entrepreneurs through structured programmes can help the development of the CCI sector in congruence with the ECoC-event.

Founded in Friesland

The start-up innovation ecosystem in the province of Friesland is known as Founded in Friesland. Founded in Friesland is part of the Innovation Pact Fryslân (IPF) – a regional economic board and a network organisation formed by triple-helix partners from government, scientific institutes, educational institutes and business. IPF aims to create a Region of Prosperity and focusses on developing common agendas for themes such as innovation, start-ups, SME effectiveness, and education.

Founded in Friesland stimulates entrepreneurship and supports start-ups and scale-ups. However, the current programme is very much technology-oriented and geared towards the economic spearheads set for the region within the IPF: Water technology, Dairy/Agrifood, High Tech Systems and Materials, Maritime Technology, and Circular Plastics.

The "Founded in Friesland" layout a.k.a. the Friesian start-up ecosystem

Inqubator Leeuwarden is another element in the start-up ecosystem. Inqubator provides co-working space for start-ups and personalised coaching programs for the Incubatees. Currently, Inqubator has no specific CCI expertise or programme.

At present, the CCI does not feel it is actively supported by neither Founded in Friesland nor Inqubator Leeuwarden, and structural ties between the start-up ecosystem and the important cultural and creative organisations (including LF2028) and creative professionals and businesses are missing.

The action

Within this Action Plan, we have translated the inspiration and examples we have been acquainted with during the co-creation phase of the ECoC-SME project to our own local and regional context.

Over the past months, we have started on the development, pilot testing, and promotion amongst stakeholders of the CCI Launch Game.

For Founded in Friesland to be more geared towards the (potential) starting CCI entrepreneur, the proposed action is directed at including CCI proof instruments in the regular programme of Founded in Friesland. The following actions will be executed in the implementation phase of the ECoC-SME project:

  • Setting a regular meeting with the IPF and Founded in Friesland to discuss the start of the implementation phase, the progress and evaluate the newly incorporated instruments.
  • Identifying the primary instruments that need to be transformed so that they are CCI-proof, as far as that has not yet been done during the project.
  • Developing and testing the new CCI-proof instruments with test panels and in real life settings.
  • Implementing the best evaluated CCI-proof instruments in the regular Founded in Friesland programme.
  • By mid-2022, having a completely CCI-proved the start-up ecosystem in Friesland.

If successfully implemented, the CCI-proof start-up programmes can then be transferred to the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe as well.

Photo credit: IMAZZO