Younger people, in general, are familiar with coworking space, especially young people from bigger cities. At the begging of the P-IRIS project, nobody from our stakeholders in Croatia discussed the actual possibility of establishing co-working space in rural areas. One of the critical features of the Gorski Kotar rural area is a low degree of cooperation between public, educational, scientific and entrepreneurial sectors. In phase 1 of the P-Iris project, during different study visits, our stakeholders and Pins as project partner are getting familiar with good practices from other countries. So, we started to discuss possible solutions with all stakeholders which could be suitable for our rural and mountain area.
During stakeholders’ meetings, we are also noticed many differences between rural coworking spaces and coworking spaces in big cities. Also, we know that copy-paste solution from other regions will not be suitable as our possible model. There are many factors which we are taking into account such as local people mindset, entrepreneurial needs, local potentials.
After a series of discussions, we decided to develop a rural coworking space adjusted to our needs but based on good practices from other countries that we visited in Phase 1 of the project (Slovenia, Norway, Finland, Italy and Spain).
Pilot action within the P-IRIS project supported this kind of activity and we established rural coworking space in the small mountain city of Delnice in Croatia. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot, as we opened coworking space at the beginning of March 2020. Coworking space has been shortly closed and we have to take care of people safety and reorganisation of work within coworking space. The main challenges that we identified are how to attract more young people, and how to keep users on right track – motivate them to visit and use coworking space more regularly but within a smaller group. We manage to organise work in coworking space by coordinating users and take care of their safety.
We also learned that rural coworking space is mainly used for networking, socializing and education, less for work. For these reasons, we managed to organise some networking events and workshops also for smaller groups. In our case, we saw that people do not prefer online events. The organisation of live workshops and networking events even in smaller groups raised some innovative ideas such as an idea for a project where our stakeholders plan to use gamification as a tool to teach entrepreneurship in schools and within the adult population. Among stakeholder’s discussion between IT, sector and cooperation with wood industry also raise first ideas. We manage to exchange cooperation with an urban startup incubator in the nearby city of Rijeka. In this way, we create the first rural-urban linkages. These kinds of ideas show that we manage to tackle innovation in rural areas and cooperation between different actors, as well as urban-rural cooperation.
PINS - stakeholder meeting