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

The consortium studies area-based collaborative enterprises (ABCE) through a model that is based on the Institutional Analysis and Development Framework (IAD) and a theory of urban commons. The IAD Framework, developed by Nobel Prize laureate Elinor Ostrom and her colleagues from the The Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, is a systematic approach to understand the way institutions of policy making function, change and can be (re)developed. Building upon the ideas of Sheila Foster, Christian Iaione and many others, we work on a theory of urban commons that perceives the collaborative governance of ABCE’s in term of the collective management of shared resources in a self organising manner. Using the model to unravel the practices of the collectives we work with we create an insightful and innovative analysis of how they work, the roles played by different stakeholders, and what the obstacles or unexploited opportunities for fruitful collaboration are. This then, is the starting point for developing strategies and interventions that support their functioning and improvement.

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.