Interactive Innovation for Tourism & Sustainable Development

EU Industry Day Tourism

On 22nd February I took part in the workshop “Investing in the European Tourism of Tomorrow” organized by NECSTouR which gathered at the European Committee of the Regions in Brussels, the Digitalisation and Safety for Tourism partnership and some of the main Tourism stakeholders in the framework of the European Industry Day.

Mr Patrick Torrent, President of NECSTouR, reflected on what are the 3 key elements of the Tourism of Tomorrow? On the view of NECSTour he pointed out three key future areas: resilience, digitalization and sustainability.

During the workshop and also in social networks (particularly Twitter) took place an intense debate on building public-private investment to boost tourism business resilience, harnessing skills development in the sector and entrepreneurship. Digitalization is seen as the key driver of the investment linked to cross-cutting research & innovation to solve tourism challenges.

On my view, the opportunity for coming years for Tourism investment resides on enhancing synergies with cross-sectoral and multi-stakeholder perspective making partnerships with technology sector, creative industries and startups.

The Tourism sector is in a ‘cross-road’ and in order to tackle the challenges that is already facing (the future is now) has to undertake an open innovation process and focus on rediscovering the very idea of ‘travel’ for the XXI century tourist.

This process requires innovation brokers to make possible an interactive innovation and effective cooperation among multiple stakeholders (Tourism Boards, City Halls, Tourism Associations, Local Citizens Associations, Creative Industries, Startup Hubs, etc.), citizens and tourists and capacity building facilitators for the skill development needed (particularly on digitalization, audience development and destination branding, experience design) to co-build ‘creative tourism’ strategies able to deliver sustainable and inclusive development for local economies and for its people.

Economía Creativa has a key expertise (impact studies, research and capacity building) on creative tourism, audience development and storytelling applied to culturla and creative tourism


In praise of a Pan-European Ecosystem for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Declaration Jan

On this year’s World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, the WEF’s Digital Leaders of Europe –a network of digital experts and start-up ecosystem buildiers from the public and private sector across Europe has published a Declaration on a pan-European Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem (work in progress, to be further discussed and refined during the Startup Europe Week 2018. The full declaration can be accessed on:

The Declaration, which I fully support, contains the following 9 points:

1. Switch from a local to a pan-European approach

2. Increase collaboration between start-ups and corporates

3. Foster European venture capital markets

4. Encourage the public sector to be an innovation role model

5. Support maximum access to data, protecting only what needs to be protected

6. Build a world-class talent pool, foster mobility, and attract international talent

7. Boost digital education and upskilling

8. Build on inclusivity and leverage diversity in Europe’s innovation landscape

9. Address shortcomings in Europe’s infrastructure and boost interoperability

The nine points cover comprehensively the key barriers, challenges and opportunities to harness the development of a pan-European innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. Indeed it is essential to switch from a local perspective to a pan-European approach; even more, to a global approach. The Declaration states that “Entrepreneurs often start in a local context, but need to move to develop their capabilities” and also on point 6 emphasizes the need to foster mobility and attract international talent. Despite the importance of entrepreneurs mobility for improving their capabilities, it is essential to develop a pan-European/Global mindset among entrepreneurs and start-up founders that will enable them to conceive pan-European business models, to identify needs, to have a regular exchange in a daily basis at pan-European level.

There are already many entrepreneurs and startups who have this vision; I am, modestly, among them; since the moment I have startup Economía Creativa I chosen the domain .eu; on a regular week I have interaction by email, video-conference, Facebook, etc. with colleagues from around Europe and beyond for co-creating projects and developing partnerships; I have delivered field work, workshops, conferences and labs in many European countries.

However the lack of a pan-European legal framework, together with the not real existence of a EU Single Market in terms of banking and venture capital are important barriers to overcome. In order to develop a pan-European innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem is a necessary condition to create a pan-European framework for entrepreneurs and startups that will provide a social security, equality in terms of taxation (at the moment, a freelance from Spain pays considerably more taxes than a freelance from the UK or Slovenia), and be inclusive in terms of gender and social background, creating an ecosystem in which the driver would be the talent and not just the social class of origin or the contacts.

The declaration also highlights the need of Increasing collaboration between start-ups and corporates ‘establish European funds or tax incentives for pilots between startups and corporates’. I have already written about the need of increasing collaboration between startups and corporates on my post in July 2017 ‘Harnessing innovation culture at corporations’ However, I suggest that the Declaration should also include on this point more accessibility of European Funds for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial projects (not only for start-ups); and similar for the tax incentives, which should be extensive also to Corporations and SMEs who hire entrepreneurs/freelancers on innovative projects.

This Declaration of the WEF’s Digital Leaders of Europe represents a great step towards a pan-European innovation and entreprenearship ecosystem. Since it is a work in progress it would be a great opportunity to open a call for proposals / recommendations from entrepreneurs, startups and public sector involve in the promotion of entrepreneurial ecosystem from across Europe. I look forward to it!

Economics enters XXI century

“Economics is the art of making the most of life” G.B. ShawThe rentrée brings good news to the world of economics!

Economics is often criticized by many for the responsibility for not being able to predict the Great Recession or for not providing the right solutions to the crisis, the growing inequality and adverse consequences of globalization on local economies and growing populism. I am glad to have discovered on The New Yorker about the CORE Econ project an accessible, relevant, real-world economics teaching tool free to anyone to browse online.

Back to my University time, I remember that many students we were already frustrated because the curriculum was focused on the free-market doctrine, considering the real life ‘ceteris paribus’ or constant. The most interesting topics on how economics can transform the way we live and contribute to more inclusive and sustainable societies were part of textbooks too, however they came after the orthodox topics on consumer preferences, supply and demand curves, the theory of the firm and the efficiency properties of atomized and competitive markets.

Although the CORE Econ approach seems not to be very radical or fully original (The Institute for New Economic Thinking in the US –which has contributed with some funds to the project- and the New Economics Foundation in the UK, among other institutions, have been working for some time to research and disseminate an alternative approach to economics to tackle XXI challenges), the interactive methodology that CORE presents together with its emphasis on providing tools to students and general public interested on economics and on finding answers to the complex questions we are facing (inequality, pollution, migration, among others), the global and collaborative team behind it (more than twenty economists from both sides of the Atlantic and India from Universities such as University College London, Science Po, Columbia and Oxford) and the aim of creating a global community of teachers and learners make this project a landmark for economics to enter XXI century, making possible to create a global campus, harnessing critical thinking to find solutions to real world problems.

As Christian Gollier, one of the founders of the CORE Econ project, highlights ‘The CORE is the best innovation in economic education that I have seen in my career. A smorgasbord of ideas that refresh our old concepts, moving our standard discourse from dismal to light, from a dehumanized science to a spirited vision of the world’

It is particularly the move from a dehumanized science (centered on the rational behaviour and on the ‘homo economicus’) towards a curriculum which takes seriously economic history, the fact that people aren’t fully rational and the free market is actually the ‘special case’ rather than the norm, what opens up a new horizon to the future of economics and economists themselves.

A new wave of economic thinking is on the rise to define in a global and collaborative way more sustainable and inclusive society in which people and the planet would be at the heart. I have called a while ago the ‘Cultural Era’. So let’s begin!

‘Trust’ and care, the wind for our sail

‘ The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them’ Ernest Hemingway
This week on the State Of the European Union debate #SOTEU, Jean Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, introduced his speech highlighting that the ‘wind is on Europe’s sail’, and that ‘Our values are our compass. For me, Europe is more than just a single market. More than money, more than the euro. It was always about values’. He pointed out three principles that must always anchor the European Union:

A Union of freedom from any kind of opression

A Union of equality, remarking that ‘In a Union of equals, there can be no second class citizens’

Third, our Union is not a State but it is a community of law

However these principles are fundamental for the prosperity and cohesion of the European Union and, in a wider sense, to any region or community in the world, it seems that a large part of European citizens do not –at least- perceive these principles on their everyday lives. They do not yet feel the wind back on the Union, because they do not feel the wind back on their lives and on their communities. This discontent with the current ‘status quo’ has been spoken out by the British people vote for Brexit and by a growing number of euro-sceptics in Poland, Hungary and other Member States; and on the other side of the Atlantic by the election of Trump as President of the US.

So why is this disenchantment spreading all over the ‘Western’ societies?

I went yesterday to Elektrownia Studyjne Kino, (a cinema co-founded by EU at Masovian Contemporary art Centre, Radom, Poland), to watch the Polish ‘premiery’ of the last Palm D’Or at Cannes Film Festival, The Square, a Swedish film directed by Ruben Östlund (and also supported by EU), which helped me to find the path for answering this question and understanding what is happening.

The Square is a poignant satirical drama reflecting our time; about how the sense of community and moral courage have been lost; about the affluent person’s need for egocentricity in an increasingly uncertain world; about the lack of trust and care about others, about our community and, in consequence, about oneself as human being.

The Square shows a broken society in which there not only second class citizens, but ‘human waste’ as Zygmunt Bauman described the wasted lives of the ‘superfluous’ populations of migrants, refugees and other outcasts as an ‘unavoidable’ side effect of economic prosperity.

Christian, the protagonist of the film, presents the idea behind a new artistic project that will be shown at the museum of which he is director, The Square, which symbolizes ‘trust and care’: everyone in it has equal rights and responsibilities within. People refer to each other with respect and help themselves’. This sounds great, in theory, in practice the movie shows that elementary concern for another man seems to be utopia, which has no right to exist in a postmodern, socially overlooked society.

The principles that President Juncker has highlighted on his SOTEU speech sound also great in theory; however it is needed a strong effort to implement them in practice to be able to transform the actual populism and discontent into a sense of collective purpose and community based on mutual trust, care and genuine interest for the other, open to diversity and the richness of complex identities of nowadays.

Although the European Commission, the European Union and Member States have to work hard on transforming the ‘community of law’ –which is necessary but not sufficient- into a ‘community of citizens’ in order to open up new horizons for the European project, it is resposibility also of the citizens themselves and of the different actors and stakeholders who we together shape our society, our economy, our art and culture and our institutions.

In doing so, we all will be contributing to our own prosperity, economic and community development. Nonetheless Guidao Tabelini on ‘Culture and Institutions: Economic Development in the Regions of Europe’ (2010) proves that ‘trust’ and ‘values’ contributes to economic prosperity.

But how we can regain the lost ‘trust’? The best way, as E. Hemingway said, is simply to start trusting others.

A global perspective on ‘creative economy’ for development

It is very actual the debate about the term ‘creative class’ and the question whether Richard Florida assumption that the rise of the creative class implies -per se- economic development and social inclusion for cities and regions which would be able to ‘attract and retain talent.However the so-called creative class represents an important role on the dynamism of a place and on its innovative character, it seems that a more global perspective on cultural and creative economy is needed to fully spread the virtuous circle that creativity harnesses throughout the whole population and neighbourhood of cities, not just for the creative class or in the creative districts.

On this direction, I have had the privilege of attending Sir John Tusa ‘Masterclass’ this week at the I Cultural Economics Congress in Lublin (Poland) where he gave the insightful and inspiring lecture ‘’Nurturing the Grassroots in the Arts the Basis for a Healthy World of Creativity”. The title captures by itself the need for a global perspective on creative economy for ‘a Healthy World of Creativity’.

In order to achieve a Healthy World of Creativity, regional development policies have to consider a wider concept of ‘creative economy’, term often confused with creative industries; and harness a holistic development of the local ‘culture’ and people’s creativity to add value to the whole economy and society, as John Howkins defined creative economy in 2001.

Cultural and creative economy to be the catalyst for a sustainable and inclusive development cannot be implemented as a ‘branding’ strategy for attracting ‘cultural tourists’ to a ‘destination’ by iconic projects (museums, creative centers, etc.). Although these projects can be important to change the perception of a city or a place, there are not sufficient to achieve an integrated ecosystem able to thrive and nurtue creativity and transform it into an endogenous engine for economic development.

A bottom-up approach is, therefore, needed for cultural and creative economy to seed the ground, pollinizing the multiple economic sectors, resurfacing the local culture and identity and its linkages with the wider world; making people aware of their own creative power to transform their reality and, ultimately, themselves. That is why the emphasis has to evolve from atracting and retaining the ‘creative class’ –understanding that there are a class who is creative vs. others who are not- towards empowering people to be creative.

This has also been debated at Forum Europe Ruhr Culture 360 celebrated this week in Germany –which I have followed on twitter – underlining that when ‘the ministry of economics or science would have organized a cultural conference’ then ‘culture’ will play its full role (quoted from tweet by Bernd Fesel).

In consequence, cultural and creative economy have to be understood by governments, stakeholders and society not just as a sector but as a new paradigm of society built by creative people.

Get in touch for consultancy on creative economy ecosystem development and capacity building on developing creativity (individual and organizations):

Exploring ‘The Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor’

The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission has recently published the Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor, an excellent tool accessible to everyone interested in the impact of culture and creative economy and urban and regional development.

The Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor (CCCM) is a new tool to monitor and assess the performance of ‘Cultural and Creative’ cities in comparison, both in quantitative and qualitative terms, with others across European countries (this first edition covers 168 cities in the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland).

The CCCM evaluate cities/countries using 29 indicators relevant to nine dimensions reflecting three major facets of cities’ cultural, social and economic vitality:

Cultural Vibrancy measures the cultural ‘pulse’ of a city in terms of cultural infrastructure and participation in culture

Creative Economy captures how the cultural and creative sectors contribute to a city’s employment, job creation and innovative capacity

Enabling Environment identifies the tangible and intangible assets that help cities attract creative talent and stimulate cultural engagement.

The Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor offers an interactive online tool that allow ussers to browse the 168 selected cities and the quantitative and qualitative information about thir performance. It also includes key facts about the cultural life of the city (I have just discovered a ‘Europe for Festivals’ on Traditional and Avant-Garde Music in Lublin!). It has also the option to create a new city entry, by adding new data, and to compare it to selected cities in the Monitor (however not fully available yet).

Culture and Creative Economy has become central to urban and regional development, particularly since the adoption of the first ‘European Agenda for Culture in a Globalising World’ (2007). However, mapping cultural and creative assets and measuring their value and impact in a systematic way acrross Europe has remained a challenge, particularly at city level. The CCM has the aim to meet this challenge, providing common evidences and insight on culture and creativity at city level to:

Support policy makers, identyfing strenghts, learn from peers and assess policy impact

Advocate and disseminate the importance of culture and creativity for improving socio-economic perspectives and resilience

Inspire new research questions and approaches to studying the role of culture and creativity in cities

So, let’s explore the CCCM for a couple cities, Seville (Spain) and Lublin (Poland) and see what key insight we can obtain.

Seville is the largest eity of the autonomous region of Andalusia in southern Spain. In 2006 Seville was appointed the first UNESCO Creative City of Music (important festivals include the ‘Festival de Música Antigua’ and the Biennial of Flamenco) The overal Seville Cultural and Creative Index is 20.1. The weaker facet of Seville is the ‘Creative Economy’ with only 7.2 on the index for Jobs in Media & Communication and only 2.2 on ICT patent applications. On the Cultural Vibrancy Seville shows strong index, 44.7 on Concerts & Shows indicator.

Lublin is the capital of the Lublin region and the biggest town in eastern Poland. It is known as a student city due to the presence of five universities. The overal Cultural and Creative City Index of Lublin is 14.2. Lublin shows strong performance on ‘Satisfaction with cultural facilities’, 35.7 (Cultural vibrancy) and on ‘People trust’, 63.6, (Enabling Environment).

Find out how does your city perform on the Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor and how it compares to peer cities on your country or across Europe!

On my side, I look forward to the availability of the ‘create your own entry’ option. In the meantime I will continue exploring and disseminating this great and inspiring tool for evaluating the Cultural & Creative Economy contribution to urban, economic and social sustainable and inclusive development.

Get in touch for policy evaluation and impact assessment studies on cultural and creative economy:

Montalto V; Jorge Tacao Moura C; Langedijk S; Saisana M. The Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor. 2017 Edition doi:10.2760/031627

Online Tool: