POP UP COMMERCE is a programme aimed at testing and accelerating innovation in the design and retail industry.
Retail has been always a key sector for many local economies. Today retailers face new challenges and need to innovate and to update their skills to adapt to consumer trends that are changing dramatically to offer clients an enhanced shopping experience.
PUC programme aims to test and accelerate innovation in design industry and retail. Retail entrepreneurs go through an 8-week hands-on programme (it runs twice a year, for 8 weeks, with 8 participants per round). Participants go through a tailored training programme and coaching to develop their project from idea to prototype. The collaborative space allows collaborative making from 2 perspectives:
• Sharing the same physical space helps the creation of synergies among the entrepreneurs, in terms of exchange of ideas and mutual learning .
• Providing entrepreneur the possibility to show their products and ideas and interact with public, so they can get feedback from the public to improve their business idea or new products.
The main beneficiaries are young entrepreneurs wishing to develop new retail strategies, models and approaches on the local market. In fact, the programme is working in close cooperation with the main retail shops and tourism associations of the city: SShops Donostia, the Local Commerce Platform of San Sebastián, and the Hotel Association of Gipuzkoa.
PUC also involves citizens, who are invited to test the retail models, services and products that the participants are developing.

Resources needed

PUC has100% public funding. It is funded by the Donostia-San Sebastián Municipality and has an annual running cost of 80.000€ per year.

Evidence of success

According to the feedback provided by the local Retail Associations, the size of the programme meets the local demand. PUC has supported 48 retail entrepreneurs. Most of the beneficiaries were unemployed and have become self-employed thanks to their participation in the PUC. Also, each project led to the production of a prototype, such as:
- Printed and on-line Donostia tourist guide.
- App and web of personalized workouts.
- Sustainable fashion and local design products.

Difficulties encountered

Making the space known to the retailers and entrepreneurs and attracting participants to the programme was quite challenging. A close and long-term relationship with the local Retail Associations and with key shops in the city was important to kick-off the programme and to keep the momentum.

Potential for learning or transfer

This programme has a high potential for transfer, since the financial resources (80.000 €/year) needed for its implementation are easily affordable for a Local/Regional Authority, considering the impact achieved on employment and growth. In any case, scalability would depend on demand and on resources. So far, the size of the programme meets the local demand, and resources fit the current size of the programme.
The programme could be implemented in any other city. However, it would probably need:
- a large retail sector based on small shops, preferably family owned (or with a strong involvement of the owner in running the shop).
- a shopping destination, with somehow large and educated demand, less price-sensitive than quality driven.
- Some awareness about the new trends in retail among the entrepreneurs and the retail sector (the connection with retail associations is very important)

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Main institution
Fomento San Sebastian
País Vasco, Spain (España)
Start Date
July 2012
End Date


Xabier Hualde Please login to contact the author.

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