On the 28th of July, the session of the Innov-AL Webinars for economic dynamisation after the Covid-19 crisis focused on the creative and cultural industries also referred to as the “orange economy”. Given its nature, this sector has been one of those most affected by the pandemic but, at the same time, its products have experienced a sharp increase in demand. The key explanation for this situation is the digitalisation of creativity and culture, an aspect that has changed how we experienced lockdown during the first pandemic in history featuring such access to communication and cultural assets, a phenomenon characteristic of the ever so interconnected twenty-first century. For this occasion, we counted on the participation of three EURADA members: SiMoRa the development agency of Sisak-Moslavina in Croatia, Kainuun Etu Oy from Finland, and the development agency of Maribor in Slovenia.
First came the turn of SiMoRa’s Head of EU projects, Ms Andreja Šeperac, who explained for us how the region is dealing with one of the cutting edge areas of this sector; the gaming industry. As we could see, this was one of the areas in which the different agencies have been struggling the most to boost their role in their regions. They had a well-developed long-term strategy for making gaming one of the flagships of Sisak-Moslavina through six different steps that target the pillars they consider a must for its development: free English courses at kindergartens, workshops during primary and secondary school, a start-up business incubator called PISMO, a new four-year programme for video games development in high school, support for launching start-ups in the field, and a gaming centre to gather all activities related to it.
Then, Mr Zvonimir Miksic the representative of the Digital Innovation Hub, and business incubator of the region, PISMO, explained how they coped with lockdown while trying to keep their daily activities running as normally as possible. Although the gaming industry is very used to virtual connections between their various actors, the transition from one to the other caused some technical issues for them. The way they were given the lessons changed, as did the channels and software they used. In such a way, activities such as 3D modelling skills for video games and advanced content creation remained among the activities of PISMO.
In continuation, Mr Marko Podjavorsek, Project Manager at Centre for Creativity of Maribor, gave a presentation on the different phases they went through and had to cope with during the lockdown. To do so, they first had to collect sound evidence-based information on the situation of the sector in the region, hence they released a survey through the Centre for Creativity. With the results of the study, they got to know which were the biggest lacks and needs of the sector. In consequence, they prepared not only a basic funding pack but a call to support the companies and workers involved in the sector.
Finally, the floor was handed over to Kainuun Etu’s Director of Foreign Direct Investment & IT Services Sector, Mr Carl Wideman. He introduce a new subject to the conference; how to deal with investment and what the effect of the lockdown on investors’ behaviour was, for example the possibility for them to deeply analyse funding potential targets that they otherwise would not be paying attention to due to a lack of time. As he mentioned, since the beginning they have tried to be pragmatic, picking up the phone and asking the business directly what could be done for them, so they first addressed basic aspects such as the payment of bills, rents, wages, and so on. In addition, Mr Wideman emphasised how their main objective was not only to gather all the companies of the sector and design instruments to support them but to put them to work together towards common goals; in other words, to develop resistant and resilient networks which could continue during the future.