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Towards an urban economic system of Social Incubators
  • Economy Economy

Times of crisis push cities to develop “emergency plans” in order to support the emergence of new economic activities (sustainable, cultural and social development). Social enterprises can also serve to improve social cohesion, which gives them a role as a driving force in achieving sustainable urban development as described in the Lisbon and Goteborg strategies. This is why, for three years the cities participating in the URBACT Urban N.O.S.E. project worked to develop new business incubator models adapted to the needs of private stakeholders in the social sector.

Main Results


Recommendations for decision makers:
  • Create a legal framework for social incubators and change the institutional framework that regulates the local public offers.
  • Provide concrete support for the dissemination of information about social incubators.
  • Create local funding programmes for social incubators that are not managed in a centralised manner.
  • Invest locally in funding programmes and special micro-finance “packages”. The idea is to work with the Local Support Groups in order to implement new schemes for public offers by including social criteria linked to issues of financing, quality, employing the most vulnerable, and socio-economic and environmental impact.
  • Special attention should go to the following: producing goods and services that promote the environment; supporting SMES as well as start-ups and spin-offs stemming from local universities; for the services sector, specific measures to strengthen services and businesses focused on networking and regrouping, including those in the volunteer sector.
  • There is also a need for legal and regulatory measures that facilitate the financial operations of social incubators.
Recommendations for cities and those who set up social business incubators
  • Promote networking among social business incubators, in partnership with local, national and international partners.
  • Provide training in skills management for social incubators using an operational tool, primarily through the recognition of qualification levels.
  • Promote actions that favour social entrepreneurship and support the structures that advise and fund social businesses.
  • Work towards the overall recognition of the added value of social business incubators; adapt the legal framework; promote the social economy and volunteer-based activities; increase visibility of new forms of local cooperation; include integrated initiatives into local policies and programmes promoting a new culture of cooperation and governance.
  • Look for business partners, not only financiers, to set up social incubators.
  • Encourage competition among social businesses, with the goal of attracting the best partners and financiers.
  • Fully integrate governance models, both vertically and horizontally, when setting up a social incubator.
  • Deploy knowledge and learning systems from the pre-incubation stage.
  • Provide social incubators with financial and administrative tools and methodologies capable of improving the growth of the incubated businesses.
  • Increase awareness and knowledge among incubated businesses, inside and outside the social incubator, in order to create an atmosphere that is conducive to their post-incubation growth.
  • In addition to partners, sponsors and financiers, use tailored tools to ensure the financial viability of the incubated businesses.

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