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The Grand Est region in France is carrying out an initiative to create physical spaces for work and personal development

Called "Third Places", the Grand Est region wants to create physical and open spaces for people to work together, where people can come together to work, acquire knowledge and skills, meet or simply exchange ideas/knowledge informally. There is no "standard model" of third places because these spaces are built according to the needs of citizens, businesses and associative dynamics and according to the particularities of a territory.

All citizens of the region are eligible to obtain a physical space in which to develop their socio-economic activities.

Selection criteria

The project must relate to:

  • The creation of a collective project offering a new service or activity that responds to a social need.
  • An already structured collective project that is to be included in a scaling-up process (diversification, spin-off, pooling) to optimise its social impact.
  • An experimental collective project in favour of access to employment for people with difficulties in accessing the labour market.

Most common activities in the "third place”

Encouraging exchange, collaboration, the development of joint projects, the pooling of resources (premises, machines, tools, skills, networks, etc.) and the sharing of values.

Coworking shared workspaces are open to teleworkers, and freelancers, but also to communities, open networks, etc.

Third places of public service

Without an imposed legal form, these places can be occupied by a community, a public service operator or an association. They provide local service and personalised support, facilitate administrative procedures (through open-access Internet connections, interactive communication tools, and video conferencing), and improve the quality of the public service. They also aim to regenerate declining territories, make rural territories more attractive and open up the most isolated ones.

Some examples of third places of public service: Public Service Links, public and professional service centres, "City Halls 4.0", public innovation laboratories, etc.

Territorial third places of innovation

Aiming to stimulate innovation processes by bringing together a diversity of actors (researchers, economic actors and users), based on exchange, experimentation and prototyping. Open to all, individuals and professionals, they offer all types of tools, in particular computer-controlled machine tools for the design and production of objects (3D printers, laser cutting, etc.).

They are aimed in particular at entrepreneurs, designers, associations, artists, DIY enthusiasts, and students who want to move more quickly from the concept phase to the prototype phase, from the prototype phase to the development phase, from the development phase to the deployment phase, etc.

Some examples of third places of territorial innovation: "Fab labs" and "living labs" promote collective intelligence methodologies where users are at the heart of the innovation process. The "Hacklab" space is dedicated to specific workshops around a tool or a digital project.

Social third places

They are based on a declared social objective, around social issues, citizen participation, social entrepreneurship or even democratic transitions. These third places are strongly structured around actors of the collaborative economy, the digital economy, and the SSE (Social and Solidarity Economy).

Cultural third places

Open to the public, they are a link between the actors (public, associations) of the culture of a territory and the cultural and cultural sites. Some examples of third cultural places: digital libraries, coworking spaces, "Living Labs", "Fab labs" or "Learning Labs" deployed within universities or cultural venues, etc.

52 "winning" project leaders (public, private and associative) have already been supported by the Grand Est Region within the framework of this CEI, which has enabled the mobilisation of nearly €1.8 million in regional and European ERDF aid in favour of these third sites.