Co.Start Villa Garagnani is the incubator and co-working space located in a regenerated building in Zola Predosa (BO), municipality near Bologna.
The property and the management of Co-Start is held by the municipality, with the support and contribution of both public and private partners for the development and promotion of numerous activities in the mansion and over the territory. The municipality yearly publishes a call for start-ups, in order to provide for free the spaces and the services offered by Co-Start (which include dedicated offices, co-working spaces, coaching and mentoring activities.
Through this project, the Municipality wants to offer new opportunities for sharing, contamination, and development of entrepreneurial ideas. The aim is to build a linkage between the users of the Co-Start service and local companies, facilitate collaborations, exchange of ideas and new job opportunities, creating synergies to further qualify the local productive context as a whole, multiplying knowledge and skills.
Co-start gives opportunities to new entrepreneurial ideas through a public selection: the selected start-ups have free access for free for 12 months to spaces, equipment, coaching and mentoring activities to facilitate their development. This project is sustained through private sponsor contribution. The development of the project, its facilitation, coaching, and mentoring activities are led by Ethic, a consolidated-experience company in this field.
Also, start-ups which are not selected through the public selection have the possibility to access to services upon payment.

Resources needed

Zola Predosa Municipality is sustaining all costs, including managing costs (caretaking, heating, light, cleaning and so on) and costs for internal staff.
Total annual costs are about € 77.000, about € 28.000 connected to professional staff.
In 2019 private sponsors contribution was about € 35.000

Evidence of success

The success is evidenced by the fact that 13 start-ups in 4 years have benefited from the Co-Start. Co-Start is a great example of Public-Private partnership. The public property and management ensure the accessibility through public selections. This combination gives the opportunity to find a balance between community-based interests and market based interests.

Difficulties encountered

Thanks to this project, the Municipal Administration won the challenge to play an active role in responding to the current issues of the world of work, new opportunities for sharing, contamination and development of business ideas.

Potential for learning or transfer

The main strengths which have the potential for learning and transfer come from two main aspects:
- The efficacy of the public-private partnership. The main problem for a start-up is (almost by definition) the lack of resources and the abundance of ideas and projects; the Municipality had the opportunity to give the spaces, the setting and the context; at the same time, the technical activities (in particular coaching and mentoring) have been externalized, giving a professional private service inside a public project. This results in an efficient use of a public space for the development (and with the help) of the private sector.
- The exploitation of R&D interests of big companies located in the territory to promote and develop local and innovative ideas. From the big company side, it is an opportunity to discover new talents and promote the image of the company; from the start-up side, it is a unique opportunity to learn from highly competitive and motivated mentors.

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Main institution
Metropolitan City of Bologna
Start Date
January 2017
End Date


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