At the end of October, the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities hosted a webinar on “Heritage as a driver for new local creative entrepreneurship”. This online event was the second in the sequence of three webinars and is linked to a project on designing post-pandemic recovery strategies for Italian heritage cities.

How is the ECoC-SME project relevant?

Our project is governed by the question “How could local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) be engaged in and strengthened through, European Capitals of Culture?”. To find and implement adequate solutions, we brought together inter-regional and cross-sectoral intra-regional exchanges into a joint learning and co-creation process, powered by representatives of different sectors and the local communities.

Understanding the impacts of the Pandemic on the local CCI, our focus has shifted specifically onto the strategies for the local CCI entrepreneurs to alleviate and recover from the impacts of COVID-19. The five regional Action Plans – which are now being implemented – serve two overarching goals: to strengthen, and to introduce CCI into existing instruments.

Highlights of actions developed in our five regions

In Leeuwarden, existing programmes are being “CCI-proofed”, such as the ECoC legacy project Leeuwarden-Friesland 2028 and the Launch Game method for start-up simulation. Matera focuses on CCI-community cooperation, through the Basilicata Heritage SmartLab: cross-sector labs implementing open design methodology to support national and international exchanges and networking.

In Rijeka, among other measures, a digital problem-solving platform for CCI entrepreneurs, linking those with a problem with those with possible solutions, will be integrated into the local Start-up Incubator. Timisoara is committed to set up and use a similar platform, coupled with lively events such as a hackathon for cultural SMEs. In Kaunas, potential start-uppers from all higher educational institutes in the city will have the opportunity to participate in a seven-week training programme “Kaunastic Start-ups”.

Our project, its working method as well as its policy actions and good practices presented was well received, especially regarding our emphasis on the importance of ECoC’s legacy and impacts on the territories’ capacity to recover and revitalise their economies and societies in the critical post-ECoC phase. “This is one of the most important lessons learned, and one of the weak points of many cultural capitals.” – Pier Luigi Sacco, Senior Advisor to OECD for Culture and Local Development. Also, his webinar-concluding words confirm our own understanding that, especially in the cultural and creative sector, the improvement of a local business ecosystem is inseparable from the engagement of the local community – both regarding capacity building and impact on social and economic well-being.

Watch the webinar here.

Photo credit: Daniele D'Andreti from Unsplashed