Senad, Marketing and Sales Director from Networks INT in Bosnia and Herzegovina went to Madrid in August/September 2017, to meet Factoria Cultural and its team, through the European Creative Hubs Network and our Peer-to-Peer Scheme (P2P).
Working for creative, start-up and innovation centre Networks INT taught me that one of the most important things in professional sense is human network you create through building bridges between people, opportunities and creative initiatives on micro and macro scale. That is why applying for ECHN Peer-to-Peer Scheme Exchange seemed as the ideal chance to build the bridge between extremely creative Networks team from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, with hub that, through other ECHN activities showed that is place worth learning from, Factoria Cultural in Madrid, Spain.
But just before description of my Spanish adventure and since these stories are read by numerous members of ECHN it is worth mentioning that creative, start-up and innovation centre Networks is the most popular gathering space for young people in the centre of the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since its inception, it represents modern and up-to-date platform for youth and ambitious people, platform that aims at expanding entrepreneurship by linking local start-ups with experts from different parts of the world who can contribute to the development of projects and their breakthrough on the international market. Our business and co-working community in Networks is intended for launching innovation, ideas, entrepreneurship and creation of new jobs. One of main goals of Networks is to help build a sustainable start-up ecosystem in Bosnia and Herzegovina by connecting the most talented young people with local and global companies. Nevertheless, Networks is designed and equipped precisely with the purpose of technological revolution and provides a unique opportunity for young people who want to start their own companies and succeed on the local and international scene.
My journey toward Madrid started weekend earlier, on August 26th, since it is not the easiest task to connect with big European cities directly from Sarajevo. Extremely high airport taxes at International Airport Sarajevo prevented majority of big airline companies to provide direct flights toward here, at the same time hiding one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, rich heritage, stunning architecture and tasty food from curious eyes of the world travellers.
ADVICE: Visit Sarajevo in 2018, it is worth of every effort. You will be impressed!
First stop was International Airport Zagreb via picturesque and colourful roads of Bosnian and Herzegovinian scenery, then Prague Airport with first and finally Adolfo Suarez Madrid Barajas Airport with second airline connection. Journey of more than 12 hours was worth enough since I knew that next week will be the most educative, creative and life-learning experience. And I was in my most favourite city in Europe. Valle!
After Sunday in the El Retiro an sightseeing around Malansana, Chueca and Gran Via, loads of Spanish food and Flamenco in the evening, Monday said hello with warm and welcoming smile of Paula De Aguirre from Factoria Cultural. And even though we were located in Matadero (Eng. Slaughterhouse) it was not painful and scary at all.
Actually, the story of this amazingly inspiring and very successful model of restoration goes like this: Matadero Madrid used to be a former slaughterhouse in the Arganzuela district of Madrid, which has been converted to an arts centre. Nowadays it represents a lively, constantly changing space at the service of creative processes, participatory artistic training and dialogue between the arts. Since beginning of 21th century it was set up to help reflect on the contemporary sociocultural environment and support processes to build the culture of today and tomorrow, as a unique lab for experimentation and promoting new cross-disciplinary formulae. In the context of numerous abandoned industrial complexes in Bosnia and Herzegovina it seems to be perfect role model of how change of the function can change not just infrastructure but the energy and functionality of whole neighbourhoods. Therefore, Factoria Cultural found her home here, together with many other creative individuals, foundations, companies and projects. Well done Madrid!
And as it is usual within ECHN networks, I was not alone. My participation at Factoria Cultural within P2P exchange was accompanied with Natalia Palombo from Many Studios (Glasgow, United Kingdom). This interesting initiative represents platform with coworking spaces, shop front creative units, contemporary art galleries, multifunctional meeting rooms and event spaces, all designed not only to support creativity, innovation and commercial success but also to be flexible enough to meet the ever-changing needs of the creative industries. Their amazing space and even more amazing leaders really represent crucial creative values in the city of Glasgow.
After introduction to Factoria Cultural model of functioning, business model and challenges in everyday work, then Skype session with Factoria Cultural founders, brainstorming of Many Studios, Networks INT and Factoria Cultural showed us that we are fighting the same battle: struggle with financing and promotion of co-working culture and values. This discussion raised up many debates: struggle for money vs. networking people + creativity, renting spaces vs. renting values, community hub vs. place with expertize.
Following days were busy with sight visits and networking with other representatives of creative and co-working community in Madrid:
– Media Lab Prado – Madrid with Jamel Gonzales,
– Impact Hub Madrid with Hamel Gonzales,
– PlayStation Talents at Factoria Cultural with Paloma Aragon, Coordinator of PlayStation Talents.
Media Lab Prado is a citizen laboratory (public space) of production, research and broadcasting of cultural projects that explores the forms of experimentation and collaborative learning that have emerged from digital networks created in redesigned sawmill from 1920’s.
Impressed with what I saw I was free enough to invite them to join Networks INT team within second edition of regional innovation forum “Sarajevo Unlimited 2017” happening in November this year in Bosnia and Herzegovinian capital as panelists, speakers at the main stage and participants (one of the first concrete results of this p2p exchange). This platform seemed as ideal partner for us in the context of our newly re-opened Makerspace, platform for education about 3D technologies, creativity and prototype experimentation. This site visit also raised some extremely interesting and important questions: Does bigger means more vulnerable? Fitting the context of open innovation within creative hub? Funding options for creative hubs?
Impact Hub Madrid represents part innovation lab, part business incubator and part community center, which offers a unique ecosystem of resources, inspiration, and collaboration opportunities to grow impact.
As we have heart from the nicest host in the world, at Impact Hub they believe that a better world evolves through the combined accomplishments of creative, committed and compassionate individuals focused on a common purpose. I have been at many Impact Hubs in Europe but this one was far bigger and more crowded that the others. Fact that they are building and opening two more in the following two years is clear proof of trust they enjoy from co-workers and creative individuals. For me the most interesting concept were Hub hosts, multi-disciplinary team of hosts and catalysts with skills in micro-finance, human rights, advocacy, event planning, project management and finance that are working voluntarily with having some additional benefits (e.g. usage of hubs co-working space and venues).
PlayStation Talents is hosted by Factoria Cultural and it is first PlayStation Europe video game accelerator. Its aim is to support national talent through the training of professionals, the empowerment of entrepreneurship in the field of video games and encourage collaboration between national studies. Participants, small studios or local developers, have the possibility to create video games for PlayStation 4, while working in amazing co-working space of Factoria Cultural. This initiative was another potential collaboration point, since some of the Networks mentors and experts are the world’s most famous character artists, engaged worldwide. Direct contact with Sony Spain was established while being within P2P exchange program.
Five working, out of ten days spent in Madrid and with Factoria Cultural family through the European Creative Hubs Network and Peer-to-Peer Scheme (P2P) gave me many lessons. It really did establish strong bridge and bound between our two creative hubs, it created new friendships and inspired me for creating new and even more creative content back home. Even though I got robbed by Iberia Airline staff members at the Adolfo Suarez Barajas Airport in Madrid the most important lesson that this exchange gave me is that within right platform there are no boundaries and limits as long we are all working on establishing better, brighter and bigger community of creative individuals and human beings. Well, next time I will be more careful with choosing the airline but at least I know I have chosen the right family to be part of.
Thank you European Creative Hubs Network!