Good practices

25. november, 2010
The ESA Tallinn Creative Incubator

Talthe (ESA) Tallinn Creative Incubator, one of three enterprise incubators run by the Business Support and Credit Management Foundation (Estonian acronym ESA), was officially opened in September 2009, though it had already begun to provide support for creative enterprises in 2008.

The idea for the Creative Incubator was born in 2004, when one of Estonia’s well known contemporary jewellers, Kärt Summatavet PhD, became a client of the incubator. A collaborative effort by Kärt Summatavet and Anu Lõhmus, a member of the board at ESA, produced the concept for the Creative Incubator, and in September 2006 it was presented for the first time to the Tallinn City Enterprise Board. The City of Tallinn gave the green light for the Creative Incubator and supported it by covering the expenses of planned preparatory projects. From 2010, a support measure was added to develop ESA creative industries support structures. With this assistance the ESA Creative Incubator is able to fund its activities and develop infrastructure. Even so, the City of Tallinn is the primary source of funds for the ESA Creative Incubator and is an interested party, and because of this the support measure is primarily aimed at creative enterprises based in Tallinn. The Creative Incubator generates its own income from the rent of rooms and sales of services and training sessions, and businesses are subsidised by up to 75%.

The mission of the Tallinn Creative Incubator is to provide a supportive environment for creative enterprises by initially providing them with incubation services. The main emphasis is to improve the business expertise of creative enterprises and to establish a soft infrastructure by developing mechanisms of inclusion, cooperation and participation and to help enterprises become international. This includes making the Creative Incubator an important influence in the creative industries sector.5alt
All enterprises wishing to be included in the incubator must undertake a thorough basic business training course and they are required to compile a business plan. The business plan is assessed by a group of experts and the business is given thorough feedback on their weaknesses and strengths. The entrepreneur defends their business plan before an assessment committee.

Businesses in the Creative Incubator can compensate for their lack of resources (both material and nonmaterial) with help from the incubator and business consultants to develop their business – this assistance can range from business know-how to do with starting and running a business to studio-style rental premises that are below market price. Businesses are included in training sessions, information and network seminars, workshops and educational travel and cooperative marketing events organised by the incubator. With financial support from the incubator, businesses have also had the opportunity to develop their specialist skills through training courses and workshops.

The most popular services provided are business consultations and training, as well as group events ranging from Creative Mornings to cooperative marketing schemes. The incubator’s communal rooms are used to host various events, the meeting rooms for holding meetings with clients and internal discussions and the receptionist and postal service, large library and other communal resources are also invaluable. 

Since the project began there are five Creative Incubator businesses that have become success stories. Four export their products and services on a large scale, and three have achieved national recognition in the areas of business and design.  Five top Estonian designers have joined the Tallinn Creative Incubator. Their international awards and recognition is an encouragement for other Creative Incubator clients.

The success of and need for the Creative Incubator is clearly measured by its popularity. In 2008, 14 creative enterprises wished to join, in 2009 there were 30 and by the end of spring 2010 there are already 40 creative enterprises.

5alt Since the start of the project, Creative Incubator partners have included the Estonian Academy of Arts, Mainor Business School Design Institute, the Estonian Association of Designers and the Estonian Design Centre. Due to its location and common interests, the Baltika Quarter (Baltika is Estonia’s largest fashion manufacturer) has also become a partner. In cooperation with Baltika, cluster events are being organised to develop, market and sell Estonian design and handicraft products.

Business Support and Credit Management Foundation (ESA)
Veerenni 24C, 10135 Tallinn, Estonia
Member of the Board: Anu Lõhmus
Ph +372 604 0620 (receptionist)
Fax +372 604 0609

Creative Incubator
Veerenni 24C, 10135 Tallinn, Estonia
Manager: Ele-Mall Vainomäe
Ph +372 604 0621
Mob +372 506 7881
Fax +372 604 0609

Tartu Centre for Creative Industries

altThe Tartu Centre for Creative Industries was founded on 14 May 2009 on the basis of Tartu City Council decision No. 514. The centre was officially opened on 4 September 2009.

The Tartu Centre for Creative Industries is an umbrella organisation that coordinates the creative industries in Tartu. It shares information about creative industries and provides education and training in the field, and provides legal and business advice to creative businesses, as well as an incubator service. The work of the Centre for Creative Industries is funded by the City of Tartu and Enterprise Estonia.
The Centre for Creative Industries is located at 13–17 Kalevi Street – very close to the city centre in a historically important part of town near a variety of cultural institutions. The buildings are surrounded by a park area for which a concert stage and picnic area are planned, as well as a sculpture garden.

At least once a year the centre organises a creative industries competition for businesses just starting out and seeking incubation services. At present there are nine businesses operating from the Centre for Creative Industries, two galleries and a café. There are 20 businesses in the preliminary-incubation program.

To become a resident of the centre it is necessary to undertake a 2-month preliminary incubation period during which participants learn how to compile a business plan, become familiar with the principles of establishing a business and hear advice from consultants. After successful defence of the business plan it is possible to apply for the incubation service.

Creative businesses can obtain support from the centre in the form of rooms, know-how and various services. Creative businesses can also use the office and studio spaces, fully equipped meeting rooms, Wi-Fi internet and security services. Businesses are continually offered training and an experienced business consultant provides advice about the business plan and overall running of the business. Businesses consider the greatest additional asset to be the inspiring work environment and the benefits reaped from the cooperative work that takes place between the resident businesses.

The Tartu Centre for Creative Industries has become popular to the extent that new premises are now required. The renovation of 15 and 17 Kalevi Street began in June. A queue is developing for the new rooms because in June the 20 businesses in the preliminary incubation period will complete the program and in autumn a new competition will be announced.alt

Raul Oreškin
Member of the Board
Phone: +372 735 5003
Mobile: +372 5564 7803

Külli Hansen
Development Director
Mobile: +372 510 6865

Creative Estonia

Creative Estonia is a program funded by the European Social Fund, which helps promote and develop creative industries and creative businesses in Estonia.

The program was established in 2009 and its aim is to:

•    Clearly present the content, unique characteristics, economic, social and regional value of creative industries. Create a platform for the discussion of creative industry problems and solutions at the highest level.

•    Support beginning and established creative businesses with much needed information and advice. Develop an attitude that creates a positive image of business and to increase the business and export ability of creative businesses.

•    Encourage and increase cooperation between creative individuals and the industrial and service sectors, so that the latter learn to make use of the abilities, talents and creativity of creative people with the aim of developing and becoming more competitive.

•    Create as many opportunities and channels as possible for the formation of cooperation networks, and the exchange of expertise and
information. To present the model of Estonian creative industries to Europe and bring the best European practises to Estonia.

To achieve its aim Creative Estonia clarifies the essence and importance of creative industries to all interested parties. Creative Estonia disseminate news and events in the field via mass, social and industry media, and it‘s own  information channels.

On the Creative Estonia portal it is possible to find information and support material about starting a creative business and guidelines for managing a business. The portal also aims to provide an overview of the creative industry and the events, studies and opportunities for support currently available. Creative businesses are also invited to free marketing seminars organised by Creative Estonia.

This year Creative Estonia will issue the publication “Creative Industries in Estonia”, which will present the state of the industry in Estonia and the best examples to show that Estonia is a country committed to innovation and contributing added value. The publication will present the support structure that has been established for creative industries and the support measures put in place by the State, as well as highlight successful creative industry businesses and projects.

To encourage contact between businesses and creative people, Creative Estonia organises various events and seminars, open-coffee style meetings and short lectures where creative businesses and potential investors are brought together. To promote the idea of creative industries, Creative Estonia participates in conferences to do with management, business and innovation as well as other areas, and seeks solutions to problems in the creative industries with input from key figures from local government level right up to the parliament. This year the focus is on design management, and along with the Estonian Association of Designers, Creative Estonia will be organising an international conference.
Students are an important target-group for Creative Estonia. The essence of creative business is explained to them in an attractive fashion and they are given information about study opportunities both at home and abroad.

Creative Estonia conducts its work with advice from a think tank that includes leaders from creative industries support structures and development centres from the various creative associations. All work is carried out by Creative Estonia along with representatives of the target groups and partners.

Eva Leemet

Tiiu Allikmäe