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Rethinking local policies: Spaces for innovation

By Platform
Man standing giving a presentation

On 31 May and 1 June 2023, the Policy Learning Platform organised 'Rethinking local policies' in Ghent. Throughout the two days, we explored local sustainable development through integrated approaches.

The event had four workshops running in parallel, one of them being spaces for innovation

What was the workshop about? 

An innovation centre is a building or group of co-located buildings that provide collaborative spaces for innovative companies, start-ups, support intermediary organisations, research centres, and other users such as venture capital companies, Fab Labs, training or learning centres, start-up accelerators and/or incubators, and/or not-for-profit associations.

Innovation centres often aim to reduce fragmentation and promote collaboration within a particular innovation ecosystem.

The first day brought forward keynotes and good examples from around Europe on FabLabs and Makerspaces – this was a common session with the ‘Spaces for Entrepreneurship’ workshop.

We had an insightful study visit to DeKrook Ghent, which is home to the public city library, labs and offices of Ghent University and the imec research Centre for Nanoelectronics and digital technology.

The second day was dedicated to group discussions about the policy challenges that policymakers face when designing and implementing innovation centres:

  1. How to secure political support and
  2. How to ensure funding and financial sustainability.

The discussed solutions included:

  • Use a mix of public and EU funding (regional, national, and European) for building the infrastructures.
  • Private funding is also needed for balancing running costs and can be secured through service delivery and renting spaces. Private funding can also sponsor equipment, services, and events/contests.
  • Take advantage of competitive funding calls.

The workshop concept and overall moderation were ensured by Marc Pattinson, Arnault Morisson and Laura Varisco, Policy Learning Platform thematic experts.

The workshop presented three good practices from Interreg Europe projects Design4innovation, INNO INDUSTRY, and NEXT2MET, namely:

It aims to promote information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the City of Fundão, Portugal.

The creation of the collaborative space was the result of a quadruple helix leadership to address the region’s high unemployment rate and brain drain. The collaborative space has successfully attracted international and private companies.

The Digital Innovation Room Mecklenburg-Vorpommern consists of 6 collaborative spaces throughout the rural region of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany.

The initiative is coordinated by the Ministry of Energy, Infrastructure and Digitalisation and provides physical spaces for start-ups and creative and knowledge workers.


It is a government-led initiative by the Valletta Cultural Agency in Malta, was created in 2018 to transform an old abattoir into a space for culture and innovation.

The Valletta Design Cluster offers various facilities, including a makerspace, studios for creative practitioners, project labs, a conference hall, a roof garden, and a coworking space, fostering collaboration among artists, creatives, and entrepreneurs.


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