The main research question of the CICI project is how cultures of innovation develop in co-located creative industries. The project focuses on:
1. the development of and interrelationships between companies, markets, networks and the places where they are located (creative business centres)
2. the effects of their co-location on both the companies themselves, their competitiveness, innovative capacities, and collaborations.

Our hypothesis is that physical proximity at the micro level facilitates but not necessarily generates face-to-face contacts, social networks, firm interaction and tradable and untradeable transactions. These, in turn, can stimulate competitiveness and innovation. This research aims to unveil which cultural, institutional and functional variables add value to small-scale creative clusters.

We will use an innovative mixed approach of both extensive quantitative and intensive qualitative information. The extensive quantitative data will provide us with rich, representative and comparative knowledge on the conduct and performance of creative businesses in the selected creative business centres across the Netherlands. By adding interview-based qualitative data, we hope to be able to unveil hidden practices of innovation and creativity, which have remained concealed in previous research into the creative industries. The data collection is guaranteed by our partners: 9 creative business centres across the Netherlands.

The project will run from November 2013 to November 2015, and is a unique partnership between Erasmus University Rotterdam/ERMeCC and DCR. DCR is an umbrella organisation of 30 creative business centres, which locate some 2000 creative companies, ranging from dance companies to app-developers. DCR and the companies they represent will facilitate the data collection essential to this project.


Based on an initial round of interviews, we have developed several themes for further exploration.

Innovation and creative business centres:
Municipal creative industries policies and the mushrooming of CBCs
Management and governance of creative business centres
Defining innovation

External sources of innovation:
Small talk, strong cooperation
Creative work in industrial heritage
Locational narratives and cluster reputation

Internal sources of innovation:
Being different by belonging
Passion is contagious and inspires