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Regional Policy Improvement for Financially Sustainable Creative Incubator Units (InCompass)
Start date: Dec 31, 2011, End date: Dec 30, 2014 PROJECT  FINISHED 

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 Europes 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 focussed 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". The consortium has 15 partners: 7 regional/local authorities, 3 universities and research institutes, 2 business parks with incubator units, 3 economic and regional growth agencies. All are directly involved in policy development. 9 member states are involved across 4 geographic areas.All partners appreciate the full value of the project and all expect to both contribute to, and benefit from, the process of the exchange of experience and the opportunity for policy improvement across all regions.The project involves a programme of: study visits and reports on good practice; thematic seminars to share the findings within the consortium; Regional Implementation Groups of stakeholders to assess the transferability of good practice and make regional policy recommendations. The project will deliver the following outputs and results: minimum 12 case study visits; 10 thematic seminars; 12 Regional Implementation Plans with recommendations for policy improvements. Interpretation and translation will be provided as necessary to ensure that language is no barrier. Dissemination of the results will be done via the project website, social media, e-newsletters, brochures and conferences - one of which will be the final conference at the Committee of the Regions in Brussels. Achievements: The InCompass project is a partnership of 15 institutions across 12 European regions: Scotland, Spain, Netherlands, Lithuania, Greece, Slovakia, Italy, England, Portugal, Sweden, Hungary and Bulgaria. The aim of the project is to support increased self-sustainability of creative industries business incubator units. Led by Lead Partners Dundee College, the partners will undertake a programme of research and analysis of innovative practices in this area across the EU. The intention is to enable them to develop and share these methods across the regions, and to move away from the current, general dependence on public funding. Even before the current economic crisis, these sources of public funding were under growing pressure, and the need to find alternative sources is now of even greater importance. Participation in other EU funded projects enabled core partners of InCompass to experience working with a number of organisations that support business start-ups in creative creative industries. They were able to observe that, while still relying on public funding in the main, a number of individual, innovative approaches were providing incubators with sources of income that enabled a limited move towards greater financial independence. It was felt that the effect of combing these approaches to collectively inform and stimulate collaborative development of local, regional, national and EU policy could have significant impact in the bid to help creative industries start-ups beat the recession, and to flourish against the odds, thereby increasing the capacity across the EU to create more spaces for experiment, innovation and entrepreneurship in the creative industries. And to enable them to continue provide a driver for sustainable growth and job creation as stated in the Lisbon Agenda. After its approval in December 2011, the Regional Policy Improvement for Financially Sustainable Creative Incubator Units project, to give InCompass its full name, , held its kick-off conference in February in Dundee, Scotland. At this meeting the working arrangements and guidelines for the smooth running and reporting of the programme were established. A Steering Group representing all partners was formed and it was agreed that the meeting would constitute the first meeting of the Group and the project guidelines and structure agreed and minuted. Component 2&3 Leaders presented aspects of the overall project framework: Component 2 Leaders presented a dissemination strategy for the project which was agreed by all partners. Component 3 Leaders outlined the approach to the project activities before ending Day 1. Day 2 was devoted to discussing and agreeing the leadership, composition and methodology for the project Study Visits – the first two being arranged for Rotterdam in May and Milan in June. In both cities, project partners had the opportunity to identify and discuss examples of good practice and five reports describing these, and their potential for transfer across regions, have been produced. The methodology is for three workgroups to focus separately on the Commercial, Social and Support initiatives identified in the case study visits and to produce reports on the transferability of them into other regions. Once externally verified by independent expert teams, these reports form the subject of a series of thematic seminars to disseminate the findings throughout the whole project partnership. These reports will then be taken back to Regional Implementation Groups set up in the twelve regions for them to be further assessed and incorporated, where suitable into the development of regional policy. Future visits and seminars are planned for Malmo, Sweden; Patras, Greece; Aviles, Spain; Gyor, Hungary and Brussels, Belgium for the final conference in November 2014. Further information can be found on the project website:

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