On this page you are able to learn more about the key terms used in this Atlas, as well as about the methodology we have used to select the cases and about the data collection process.

Key terms


Cultural heritage, as understood by HUB-IN, covers tangible and intangible values, and contains ecological, economic, and social dimensions. We base this understanding on work from UNESCO [1, 2], that includes both tangible and intangible cultural and natural heritage. Tangible cultural heritage includes elements such as buildings, monuments, archaeological sites and cultural landscapes. Intangible cultural heritage includes local know-how and cultural identities, such as performing arts, rituals, and knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts. This has been translated in the following types of heritage that are distinguished in the Atlas, and which you can use as filters when browsing through the initiatives:

  • Buildings and/or monumental structures
  • Landscapes / natural resources
  • Traditional craftsmanship
  • Traditional music/dance/rituals

Heritage-led regeneration:

The goal of HUB-IN is to stimulate processes of heritage-led regeneration. This is regeneration with the focus on the value of heritage as a powerful catalyst for transformational change – building on the ‘spirit of the place’, meeting the needs of residents whilst attracting investment, jobs and improving quality of life [3].

Historic Urban Areas:

Within HUB-IN, Historic Urban Areas are those urban areas that result from the historic layering of cultural and natural values and attributes. They extend beyond the notion of “historic centre” or “ensemble” to include the broader urban context and its geographical setting [4]. Historic Urban Areas do not exist in a vacuum and relate to both tangible and intangible factors that shape the area’s character and identity. 

Within HUB-IN we consider three subcategories of Historic Urban Areas, which you can also use as filters when browsing through the initiatives.

1. Historic areas which are, in whole or in part, town or city centres

2. Historic areas which are outside of the town or city centre. These will typically be part of medium and larger towns and cities. 

3. Historic areas that focus on the wider urban values that define the identity and character of the town, city, or place. In such a historic area, physical remainders of the past might have been lost, yet the values they represented are still important.

Entrepreneurial Ecosystem:

An entrepreneurial ecosystem is made up out of a set of interdependent actors and factors that are coordinated in such a way that they enable urban innovation and productive (value-enhancing) entrepreneurship. In HUB-IN, we are developing an entrepreneurial ecosystems approach that supports the emergence and development of innovative and/or entrepreneurial initiatives that contribute to heritage-led regeneration of Historic Urban Areas. The HUB-IN Framework describes an ecosystem consisting of eight ingredients (heritage, physical and digital infrastructure, marketplace/demand, support organisations, human resources, knowledge, finance and leadership) and four institutional/cultural arrangements (urban culture, entrepreneurial culture, networks and formal institutions). More information about the framework approach can be found on, or in van Twuijver et al. (2021).


According to the vision of HUB-IN, activities within Historic Urban Areas can take place within three common clusters of innovation. Each cluster responds to specific global trends and challenges and addresses particular themes in a Historic Urban Area. These clusters provide a common goal and concentrate geographic activity. The three clusters defined within HUB-IN are:

  • Culture and Creative Industries (CCI): in this cluster cultural heritage is at the centre of innovation and creativity, to nurture socioeconomic development.
  • New Lifestyles (NLS): this cluster is focused on improving urban wellbeing by stimulating sustainable living patterns, inclusivity, and diversity.
  • Resilient & Human Connected places (RHCP): this cluster is focused on improving ecological and social resilience of historic places through the sustainable and regenerative use of resources, enhanced community cohesion, and increased digital and human connectivity.

The three clusters do not represent silos of activities: there is overlap and interaction between them. Therefore, in the Atlas you will find many initiatives that operate within more than one cluster. In Gregorio and Vieira (2021) the three clusters and the specific trends, challenges and themes they address are explained in more detail.


It might be that you are interested in a certain type of activity that takes place within Historic Urban Areas. Therefore, we have made sure that you can filter on themes in the Atlas. The different themes you can filter on are the following:

  • Circular economy
  • Community action
  • Creative industries
  • Education
  • Energy transition
  • Entertainment
  • Green space
  • Housing
  • Sharing economy
  • Smart city
  • Social inclusion
  • Public space
  • Tourism

Selection Criteria

The initiatives that you find in our Atlas have been selected based on their expected ability to add to our understanding of the shape and conditions of innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystems in Historic Urban Areas. This means that initiatives have been selected using the following five criteria:

(1) There is evidence of regeneration of historic urban areas (realised or ongoing).

(2) Innovation or entrepreneurship is used as a way to realise regeneration.

(3) Tangible heritage (like buildings or monumental structures with heritage value) and/or intangible heritage (like traditional craftsmanship or traditional music/dance) is utilised

(4) An initiative should operate in an urban area with 5.000 or more inhabitants. [5]

(5) An initiative should operate within European territory. 

To find initiatives, we have used existing databases, work from other European projects and the networks of HUB-IN cities and partners. We would specifically like to thank the EU H2020-projects Open Heritage (GA 776766), Naturvation (GA 730243), Urban Maestro (GA831704) and CLIC (776758) for their inspiring work that we were able to draw on. If you are interested in a more detailed description of our selection criteria and sampling strategy, please get in touch through our contact form

Included in the Atlas are cases that we perceive as 'good practices', e.g. cases that conduct activities and show practices that provide positive learnings for others who wish to embark on a similar journey. At the same time, we acknowledge that heritage-led regeneration is a complex process that can involve different perspectives that are shaped by the historic and socio-economic circumstances connected to a specific locality. Because we have to rely on publicly available information about initiatives, we are not in the position to judge the overall impact of an initiative. Hence, being featured in the Atlas is not a certification label or quality stamp. The Atlas provides an overview of examples of heritage-led regeneration in Historic Urban Areas that we believe can provide inspiration to others.

Data collection 

For data collection, a standardised list, which contains almost 100 questions, was used. This list contains a combination of text answers and drop-down selections in order to collect information on a range of variables in line with the HUB-IN Framework. The variables include among others questions on the aim, governance and stakeholders involved; forms of networking and co-creation utilised; (financial) resources and business models utilised; characteristics of the Historic Urban Area; outcomes and impacts aimed for/realised. In a workshop with the HUB-IN consortium in December 2020, a start has been made to operationalise these variables into a data collection sheet. This list has been refined in follow-up meetings with a selected group of project partners, and after an initial pilot in June 2021, in which the data collection process has been tested on 5 cases, the data collection sheet was finalised. 

Data for the initiatives has been gathered through desk research. A range of official and semi-official sources have been utilised for each case, including output from policy, business and community organisations, research projects, newspapers, and organisational websites. Researchers from different HUB-IN partner organisations have collected this data. A guide, including definitions of terminology used and an example case, was written to accompany the data collection sheet. One-on-one training was provided to all researchers by the coordinating researcher. Furthermore, regular group meetings have been held to discuss terminology and collected data in order to create a common frame of reference among the researchers.

Data validation

We have used multiple methods to make sure the data represented in the Atlas is as accurate as possible.

Firstly, we have tried to ensure that the information recorded is based on a multitude of sources. Secondly, all data collection sheets have been checked by the coordinating researcher for consistency of data among the variables, completeness of the data collection sheet and accuracy of the data input. Thirdly, we have designed a process of data verification, in which the respective initiatives have been offered the opportunity to comment on their Atlas profile before publication, and provide us with additional information.

Do you represent one of the initiatives included in the HUB-IN Atlas, and do you want to suggest changes or additions? Please get in touch via our contact form.

Limitations in the accessibility of data due to language barriers have been mitigated as much as possible by selecting researchers for data collection with language skills complementary to the cases analysed. In cases where this was not possible, native speakers have been approached to help with the translation of key documents. 


[1] UNESCO (1972). Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. UNESCO. Available at:

[2] UNESCO (2020). Basic Texts of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the intangible Culture Heritage. UNESCO, Available at:

[3] Cultural Heritage Forum (2019). Commission expert group on cultural heritage (E03650). (2019) Available at:

[4] Member States, 2019. The UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape. UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Available at:

[5] UN Statistical Commission (2020). Statistical Commission: Report on the 51st session (3-6 March 2020). ISSN 0251-9976. United Nations. New York, 2020