The ECoC-SME project 'kicked-off" with its First Project Workshop for interregional exchange, 24th to the 26th of June 2019, in Leeuwarden, Netherlands.

During the three days of the workshop, the ECoC-SME Project Partners, representing five European regions, and at the same time, five -- former, current or prospective -- European Capitals of Culture, could meet for the first time in person. The workshop was hosted by Inqubator Leeuwarden and the City of Leeuwarden, who also assisted the Lead Partner team from Finland in planning the content and structure of interregional exchange.

Participants presented in more detail their regions as well as their respective European Capital of Culture projects. As an important foundation of the work to be done in the next three years, participants could familiarise themselves with the diverse local-regional contexts, the key themes and features of the ECoC events hosted in these regions as well as the five Policy Instruments targetted by this project with respective Action Plans. 

Based on this common understanding, participants started to prepare for the first round of Local Learning Labs (LLLs) that they would implement from September until mid-October in their own regions with the engagement of local stakeholder groups. These LLLs will be the first in a sequence of four, each focussing on a different aspect of utilising the opportunity the mega-event offers to develop existing and prospective local small- and medium enterprises (SMEs), and hence strengthen and extend a positive ECoC legacy in their regions.

The workshop also included an interesting site visit, a guided tour to Blokhuispoort, a former prison in Leeuwarden hosting now creative start-ups.