The city of Bologna has implemented an innovative scheme to provide support for the cultural and creative industries.
Established in 2010, INCREDIBOL! boosts the cultural and creative industries using a simple formula: small grants + spaces + tailor-made services. The scheme involves a network of public and private partners and is administered by the city of Bologna and financed by the Emilia-Romagna regional government.
Every year INCREDIBOL! launches an open call for projects in the cultural and creative industries (CCI) sector. Through this call, selected cultural and creative professionals, in their start-up phase, receive small grants, rent-free spaces, promotion, training and mentorship to fill any gaps in their entrepreneurial skills and feedback and evaluation to the winning projects.
This project was awarded the 'URBACT Good Practice Label' in 2017. Learn more about the award.
Background and objectives
INCREDIBOL! has been the first support scheme for CCIs established in Italy, and since 2010 it has been evolving according to the changing needs of the sector. INCREDIBOL! is based on an integrated and holistic approach that considers creativity not only as a sector, but also as a driver for economic development, urban regeneration, quality of life, social innovation and city attractiveness.
The key objective of INCREDIBOL! is to retain the region’s creative talents and promote CCIs as a driver for innovation and economic development. The scheme includes:
Strategic use of the public heritage
Through the spaces provided to winners, INCREDIBOL! regenerates areas of public real estate by creating small "creative clusters".
Integrated and participative approach
INCREDIBOL! is based on a large public-private partnership, which over the years has been extended to the winners of the previous editions, who have become mentors for new CCIs.
INCREDIBOL! is a project of the city of Bologna, with close cooperation and support from the Emilia-Romagna regional government.
INCREDIBOL! encourages the development of new economies based on CCIs, usually "green" and characterised by a low impact on the environment.
INCREDIBOL! helps deliver the implementation of inclusive policies and actions for the city, promoting social and non-technological innovation.
Sustainable economic development
By promoting "spillovers" between the creative sector and traditional sectors, INCREDIBOL! provides innovation to the traditional economic sectors.
The CCI sector plays an increasingly important role in Bologna, not only in terms of economic development and job creation, but also in terms of social innovation, urban rehabilitation and life quality improvement. Moreover the project is based on a regional public/private network offering guidance, training, ad-hoc consulting services according to the needs of the winners of the call.
Activities of INCREDIBOL! include:
- a recurrent call to promote the creation of start-ups in the creative and cultural sector
- a recurrent call to foster the internationalization of regional creative companies
- a consulting desk service (by appointment only)
- premises and venues owned by the city of Bologna are given on gratuitous loan to cultural entities and creative professionals
- information and opportunities published on the official website www.incredibol.net, on the Facebook page under the “creative” section of www.emiliaromagnastartup.it
- organization of free workshops, public meetings, networking and b2b events, etc
- special and pilot projects and participation in European projects, networks and international activities about CCI
INCREDIBOL! uses an integrated approach that takes into account economic development, culture, urban regeneration, youth policies, social innovation. A good example of INCREDIBOL!’s integrated approach is the strategic use of public heritage: free spaces offered to young creatives in deprived areas of the city have given young entrepreneurs a chance to set up their activity in a physical place. At the same time, the areas have experienced the settlement of a small creative cluster and small-scale regeneration processes have started. On a larger scale, the major presence of creatives has enhanced social cohesion and safety in these areas.
Financing and resources
The lead agency for INCRODIBOL! is the city of Bologna, with financial support of 200K€/year provided by the Emilia-Romagna regional government
INCREDIBOL! has an evolving network of public and private partners (30 at present), including the local university, Academy of Fine Arts, Chamber of Commerce and many private partners including entrepreneurs, consultants, incubators, training providers) which offer free services and participate in defining the evolution of the project. Each partner contributes, according to its own specialisation, in a win-win approach able to create positive effects with a small budget, which includes dedicated support staff and a strong communication campaign.
Results and impacts
INCREDIBOL! has achieved the following results:
82 winners aged under 40 have been selected through five calls for entrepreneurial project.
27 public buildings have been assigned to creative professionals and companies in Bologna.
The scheme has supported, through dedicated calls for internationalisation projects, small urban regeneration projects and has provided assistance to more than 100 beneficiaries per year.
The mortality rate of projects/companies started by the INCREDIBOL! winners is 4% of the total, a very low index compared to other entrepreneurial sectors or support schemes.
Barriers and challenges
The key challenge for INCREDIBOL! is to provide cultural and economic opportunities for the CCI sector by consolidating ongoing funding from both the public and private sector and continued community support.
Lessons learned and transferability
INCREDIBOL! has established a new approach for the public sector: more horizontal, informal and flexible and less dependent on high budgets (the average financial budget per year is 200,000 euros, however, the global value of the project has been estimated at 500,000 euros).
The project features a win-win holistic approach based on the cooperation of dozens of different actors from different fields, and an audience of active stakeholders, its effects have become relevant for the whole city, not only for the target group. The "INCREDIBOL! approach" has demonstrated its success and has been adopted in other initiatives as a good practice.