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European creative districts will modernise regional innovation development Published on: 26/06/2013

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Two European Creative districts were officially launched in the spring 2013. Both initiatives aim to demonstrate how traditional industrial regions can, via their policies and support measures for entrepreneurship and innovation, help to create a supportive ecosystem in which entrepreneurs can develop, innovate, grow and internationalise.

Over the last couple of weeks, two European Creative Districts, Wallonia Creative District (24/04/2013) and CREATE (16/05/2013), have been officially launched. The first one was launched in the presence of Belgian Prime Minister Elio di Rupo, DG ENTR Director General Daniel Calleja Crespo and Minister Jean Claude Marcourt, Wallon Government minister of economy, foreign trade, SMEs and new technologies. The second one, launched in Prato, Italy, saw the participation of Gianfranco Simoncini, Regional Government minister of economic activities, employment and training, Tuscany Region, Luca Giusti, the President of the Chamber of Commerce of Prato and Stefano Giovannelli, Director of Economic Promotion Agency of Tuscany. Both events, gathered a great number of representatives from the respective regions, local policy makers, media and business people (over 600 guests in Belgium, Namur, and 70 participants in Italy, Prato).

Both initiatives have raised high expectations with regard to their regional approaches aiming at modernising their “traditional industries” through creativity and non-technological innovation. The idea of a “Creative District”, an initiative initiated by the European Parliament and implemented through two grant agreements by DG Enterprise and Industry these two regions, is to demonstrate how such “old” industrial regions can, via their policies and support measures for entrepreneurship and innovation, help to create a supportive ecosystem in which innovation and creativity can have a chance to happen and in which entrepreneurs can develop, innovate, grow and internationalise. Both Wallonia and Tuscany have made great efforts to put such “systemic” innovation and creativity strategies in place. The idea is to further test such approaches and demonstrate to other regions how creativity can help to transform industrial regions.

In Wallonia, since 2011, a framework programme called Creative Wallonia exists. The horizon for the programme is set for 2025 with an annually foreseen budget of €8 million. Wallonia European Creative District will build upon this regional strategy and add transnational mutual policy learning to it as well as open up the business support and access to finance actions as well as cluster activities to international stakeholders.  For a short video about Wallonia Creative District, please click here: http://vimeo.com/66338190. Some of the media response to the launch of Wallonia Creative District can be found by following the links to “Le Soir” or “Le Vif Express”.

Tuscany, and the Prato “textile district” will aim at transforming the traditional textile industry from a manufacturing district into a local system in which the outputs of the core activities, based on the manufacturing industries, also contain intangible ones such as design, fashion, coordination, marketing or distribution and thus by re-shifting and re-gaining larger parts of the value added chain. CREATE aims at upscaling the innovation potential of the micro enterprises and SMEs in the textile sector, building stronger branding of the whole textile district and by engaging into strategic and collaborative international cluster cooperation with other textile and creative districts in Europe and beyond. “This project aims to be the starting point through which to tell the world about Prato’s productive capacity,” said Lorenzo Guazzini, vice president of Prato’s Chamber of Commerce. His wish was that this project would "make people understand that Prato can be a point of reference in which creatives, brands and industry experts can all find what they are looking for”.

For more information about the launch of CREATE, please follow this link.