A HUB-IN Ecosystem

Historic Urban Areas can provide fertile ground for innovative and entrepreneurial behaviour. Stimulating such behaviour is an important step in creating historic areas that are dynamic and vital, embodying a spirited culture, a vibrant and inclusive social life, and a flourishing local economy while being environmentally sustainable. On this page, you can learn more about the ecosystem approach that HUB-IN develops in this respect.

HUB-IN Places are able to utilise historic elements to create a brighter future.

In HUB-IN, we aim to uncover the ‘ingredients’ that are likely to stimulate innovative and entrepreneurial behaviour. We have utilised literature from the academic fields of urban innovation (Concilio et al., 2019) and entrepreneurial ecosystems (Stam and van de Ven, 2021) to identify eight ingredients and four institutional/cultural arrangements that, combined, can support innovative and entrepreneurial behaviour in Historic Urban Areas. The ingredients and arrangements combine into an ecosystem in which the different elements interact with and influence each other. In HUB-IN, we aim to configure the elements of the ecosystem in such a way that innovative and entrepreneurial behaviour is encouraged. We call this the HUB-IN ecosystem, and it provides insights into the ingredients a HUB-IN place can utilise to develop place-specific solutions that contribute to heritage-led regeneration.

HUB-IN Ecosystem

The Ingredients of a HUB-IN Place

Each historic urban area can draw on different resources that are unique to that specific place. These resources form the ingredients that can be used for innovative and entrepreneurial initiatives. In HUB-IN, we consider 8 ingredients of particular importance for heritage-led regeneration of Historic Urban Areas.

Heritage represents those tangible and intangible elements inherited from the past which reflect and express constantly evolving values, beliefs and traditions. For a HUB-IN city preserving, developing and (re-)valorising heritage is a key priority, and can act as a catalyst for urban regeneration. This shows for example in activities where (cooperative) re-use of historic buildings is stimulated, or where traditional crafts, for instance tapestry, acts as a base for new entrepreneurial initiatives.

PAX - Patios de la Axerquía (Córdoba, Spain) has utilised historic patio houses, and the traditional community values attached to them, to create modern co-living arrangements in a high value historic setting.

Physical and digital infrastructures refer to the availability of structures and facilities (e.g. buildings, energy systems, modes of transportation) that facilitate proximity and ease of interaction between different stakeholders. In a HUB-IN city, the physical infrastructure can provide unique resources, like heritage buildings, unique streetscapes, or an unrivalled ambience. At the same time, the physical infrastructure can be the object of innovative and entrepreneurial efforts, for example by implementing energy efficient solutions in historical structures or through the adaptive re-use of physical heritage. Nowadays, next to physical infrastructure, digital infrastructures also gain importance in supporting connectivity and cooperation, and provide opportunities to (re-)produce heritage and make it accessible to new audiences.

On Sugar House Island (London, UK) the historic street plan and old courtyards are respected and maintained, contributing to the preservation of the historic industrial character and strengthening the unique ambience of the neighbourhood.

Marketplace / demand shows the importance of innovative and entrepreneurial activities addressing a clear need or a receptive marketplace. HUB-IN Places find novel ways to utilise their heritage to fulfil emerging needs and market opportunities, either related to local citizens, local businesses, visitors to the area, or the environment, or combinations of all four. Throughout this process, HUB-IN Places are sensitive to the unique character of their Historic Urban Area, and are mindful of competing demands on their urban space and a diversity of purchasing powers within their citizen base, helping to shape markets in inclusive ways that do right to different target groups in their population.

The Sargfabrik (Vienna, Austria) and the Miners’ Houses in Idrija (Slovenia) show how historic buildings can address crucial demands for housing in historic urban areas.

A well-developed range of support organisations, like research institutes, incubators or co-creation spaces, can provide input for innovative and entrepreneurial processes. HUB-IN Places are able to connect and utilise these different support structures in a way that facilitates connectivity, creativity and co-creation.

As part of a wider generation programme of the historic Porta Palazzo (Turin, Italy) the municipality supported the creation of networks of entrepreneurs, and the formation of organisations that provide guidance in business creation. It also collaborated with the Artisan Restorers School, providing a great impulse to the local arts and craft industry.

Human resources incorporate the experience, skills, and talents of the local population and those attracted to the area from outside the city. HUB-IN Places aim to empower the local population by reinforcing the skills, experience and talents of those living in their Historic Urban Areas, building on place-based expertise, craftsmanship and artisanship that have developed over generations.

In the Kapana Creative District (Plovdiv, Bulgaria), an area that has been home to craftsmen for over five centuries, a special programme was launched to stimulate the development of local artists and attract (inter-)national talent to the area.

New applications of existing knowledge, as well as the development of new knowledge, fosters creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. HUB-IN Places invest in the (re-)generation of knowledge that aids fulfilment of emerging needs in novel and sustainable ways. Knowledge as an openly accessible resource, thus allowing it to be shared and built upon, is an important tool for HUB-IN Places.

In the innovative mixed-use neighbourhood of Strijp-S (Eindhoven, The Netherlands), a Living Lab allows different stakeholders to work together to stimulate a flow of knowledge from one partner to another.

The availability of adequate financial resources is important to facilitate innovative and entrepreneurial initiatives and support creative communities. HUB-IN Places dare to experiment with new financial structures, combining traditional public funding streams with other (private) sources of funding. In creating novel financial structures, HUB-IN Places carefully balance potential shifts in the distribution of power and influence, making them contribute to inclusive and sustainable development of their city.

At Base Milano (Milan, Italy), private investors were stimulated to fund cultural projects through tax deductions offered by the local authority.
Sometimes, lowering cost is also an effective financial strategy. NOD Makerspace (Bucharest, Romania) has been able to attract in-kind contributions, such as free IT-facilities or PR-advice, from locally active companies.

Strong leadership can help to create a shared vision, (re-)invigorate a sense of place, and coordinate cooperation. To enable collective action, visionary individuals or collectives are needed to guide and direct this action. HUB-IN Places have leaders that are visible, committed and accessible. This role can be taken on by a wide range of actors, including but not limited to the local government, entrepreneurs, artists and/or citizens.

The creation of the SOHO Arts District (Málaga, Spain) was ignited by a group of residents and entrepreneurs who formulated a vision of what their revived neighbourhood should look like.

Cultural and institutional arrangements in a HUB-IN Place

How the ingredients available in a Historic Urban Area are combined and utilised is influenced by the broader urban context of which they are part. The urban culture, the entrepreneurial culture, (formal and informal) networks and the presence and priorities of formal institutions all influence the way in which ingredients can be mobilised, combined and employed.

Each city has a unique urban culture that includes the sense of place and symbolic meanings that those living in, working in, and visiting Historic Urban Areas attach to these places, as well as a specific ambience in (parts of) the city. For HUB-IN Places elements of urban culture, like specific values or traditions, provide inspiration for innovative and entrepreneurial initiatives. On the other hand, the urban culture can be strengthened through such initiatives, creating a unique ambience and an attractive setting for the local community, local enterprises, and visitors.

In the Meatpacking District Copenhagen (Denmark) a fusion of traditional food-producing industries and contemporary creative industries in the monumental district has resulted in a distinctive urban setting with a unique identity.

An entrepreneurial culture provides opportunities for innovative actors to learn from each other, to share risks, and to have spontaneous interactions that spark creative processes. In HUB-IN Places, being entrepreneurial is encouraged, and places for experimentation and enactment of ideas are stimulated.

The Gamlestadens Fabriker (Gothenburg, Sweden) is home to an incubator hub for entrepreneurs and innovators. This incubator is part of a city-wide initiative "The entrepreneurial Gothenburg", that aims to create city-wide facilities for entrepreneurship and innovation.

The presence and density of networks (or lack thereof) plays a role in how easy knowledge, information and ideas can circulate in a community, and in how easily different stakeholders can connect to each other. HUB-IN Places acknowledge the value of networks, both on a local level as instruments to strengthen connectivity, creativity and co-creation, and on an extra-local level, to access inspiration and fresh knowledge.

Färgfabriken (Stockholm, Sweden) has built a variety of collaborations with various local design and art initiatives, among others resulting in a collective label under which products from local artists are sold.

Because formal institutions set out rules and regulations, they greatly influence the ‘rules of the game’ that need to be followed by, among others, entrepreneurs and innovators. In HUB-IN Places, formal institutions create space for experimentation and innovation, and are open to adapt the existing rules of the game in line with novel, tried and tested, activities. Furthermore, citizen engagement, and local needs are a focal point of action.

In the municipality of Naples (Italy), regulations allow for the formal use of squatted public places if they serve community needs. This has enabled the development of a range of social, economic and cultural activities of Scugnizzo Liberato in a former convent.

Coming to an innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem for heritage-led regeneration

Each HUB-IN Place can draw on different ingredients and arrangements, making each HUB-IN Place unique. What these places have in common is that they are able to mobilise, combine and employ the elements available to them in a productive ecosystem that creates supportive local conditions for the emergence of innovative and entrepreneurial processes that preserve and build on the unique history and heritage of a place. As part of the HUB-IN project, we are analysing these ecosystems in more depth to learn which elements are essential for heritage-led regeneration. Would you like to receive a message when we publish something new on this? Please use our contact form to subscribe to our newsletter.

Would you like to know more about the ecosystem approach that we use in HUB-IN? Have a look at the paper ‘The Ingredients of a HUB-IN Place’, which is part of the overall HUB-IN Framework.