The ESA Tallinn Creative Incubator

03. detsember, 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.alt
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.

alt 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