The partners launched ABCitiEs to dig deeper into good and bad practices on how collective power can boost urban development and local entrepreneurship in particular and how policy makers can support these initiatives to reap the benefits of such actions. The aim of the kick off was threefold: firstly, we aimed to get a grip on the project plan, workload of the different partners and project administration. Secondly, we discussed our theoretical framework and ways to study our cases. Thirdly, we wanted to get to know each other, both the ABCitiEs projects in the cities and the people from the different cities dedicated to the project. We did this by listening to presentations and workshops, visiting inspiring cases of area based collaborative entrepreneurship in Vilnius and having dinner together.

Our approach

At the moment, the consortium is using the Institutional Analysis and Development (AID) framework to study the area-based collaborative enterprises (entrepreneurship initiatives). The AID framework is based on the Commons theory of Nobel prize winner Elinor Ostrom, and Sheila Foster, and others, who introduced the concept of Urban Commons. The framework will give guidance in the way we will analyse the different cases in the cities, will get more knowledge on how they work, and the roles played by the different stakeholders and the impact these collaborative initiatives have.

The initiatives in the cities

During the kick off workshop, which was held on 9-10 of October, 2018, in Vilnius, Lithuania, partners shared their experiences and discussed possibilities to strengthen collaborative initiatives. In Amsterdam different entrepreneurship collectives are active with aims varying from urban regeneration to knowledge sharing and innovation. While a shopping street collaborative like Plein 40-45 focuses more on social cohesion, the innovation collaborative Knowledge Mile has the ambition to improve the living and working climate in their area by linking education and research, connecting people and knowledge and exchanging good ideas.

Manchester has experience in developing Business innovation districts (BID). BIDs are focused on a small area, e.g. a street, where operating businesses join into a community and collaborate in terms of marketing, representation, administration, etc.

Zagreb area experienced drastic economy changes after the collapse of Yugoslavia. Current trends of economic development also witness community based structures like Creativity center, Urban research factory. Their focus is very much on cultural heritage.

Athens is the largest city participating in the project with particularly big role of SMEs in the economy, dealing with thehuge impact of the recent economic crisis. Their economy is characterized by weak ties between firms and local economies and societies. This makes it difficult to form synergies and undertake joint action. Nevertheless, Kypseli Municipal Market was opened in October 2018 - the first social entrepreneurship market in Greece - which transformed an otherwise demolished building into a collective space.

Vilnius has introduced the Innovation and creativity centre “Linkmenų fabrikas“ at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University and Užupis Art Incubator as initiatives, boosting community cooperation for entrepreneurship development such as providing start-ups and artists with product development, prototyping and marketing opportunities.