Models of creative enterprise centres: characteristics, local impact and sustainability

Start Date:  July 2012   End Date:  Aug 2013   Status: Completed


The future sustainability of communities depends upon the ongoing generation of wealth. In the search for economic development strategies that are centred upon the cultivation of entrepreneurial abilities and rely increasingly less on State funding, the creative industries offer an important potential solution for at least three reasons: firstly, they are growing faster than many other sectors of the economy; secondly, the creative industries are important for the future of sustainable communities as they partly rely on the socio-cultural and historical fabric of the locality in which they operate; thirdly, they tend to cluster geographically, thus they are more likely to generate a critical mass of economic activities that might contribute to the economic development of surrounding areas. Although there is substantial research on the creative industries and clusters of creative companies, there is only limited research available specifically on the role and potential of creative enterprise centres and their socio-economic impact on surrounding areas.


This knowledge exchange project aims to circulate ideas and examples of good practice about creative hubs across Europe and maximise the link between creative hubs and their surrounding communities which often experience economic and social disadvantage.

The project will aim to:

  • explore the extent to which different models of 'creative hubs' can be developed and what their merits and de-merits are;
  • explore the contribution of creative hubs to the economic and social sustainability of communities;
  • maximise knowledge transfer of good/bad practice between creative hubs across the UK, the Netherlands and other European countries.


We organised four workshops which invited a wide range of stakeholders including creative enterprise managers from various European countries (Italy, Spain, Netherlands, UK, Denmark, Slovakia), creative based community organisations from the UK and the Netherlands, and academics from various research disciplines.

Main Findings:

View report


  1. We built important relationships with Erasmus and Delft (e.g. Romein and Trip, 2013). The latter in particular is conducting a large EU funded project (InCompass) on financial sustainability of creative industries incubators and is, therefore, a potential partner for future research given their direct experience in both EU funded projects and creative enterprise academic work. Indeed, we are now engaged in discussions with project partners to apply for EU funding through Horizon 2020 and use CECs as an existing infrastructure that might enable to further the cultural unification of European countries via sharing of skills and expertise of knowledge-based industries.
  2. We created strong links with CECs and grass-root organisations and brokered relationships between other CECs and two large CEC networks. Through the project, we also brokered a range of relationships between CECs in different countries who were chiefly interested in each other strategies of financial sustainability. We brokered relationships between Europe wide CEC networks led by the Chocolate Factory in London and the Creative Factory in Rotterdam.
  3. We will shortly be submitting a journal article on the results of our work which was partly informed by a wide range of conversations from this project.

Project Lead

Dr Marcello Bertotti

Project Team: Dr Marcello Bertotti (Institute for Health and Human Development, University of East London), Jeannette Nijkamp (Centre of Expertise Innovations in Care, Rotterdam University of Applied Science), Professor Jack Burgers (Erasmus University), Frans Spierings (Rotterdam University of Applied Science)

Funder: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)

Project Partners: Chocolate Factory (London); Creative Factory (Rotterdam)

Report: Download (PDF)

For more information, contact: Dr Marcello Bertotti

Dr Marcello Bertotti

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