Practices, processes and expectations of innovation in small-scale creative clusters

Why do creative entrepreneurs and artists so often flock together in old industrial buildings? Where do creative and innovative ideas come from and how do they travel within and between places?

This project combines research on three concepts: space, the creative industries and innovation. These three concepts have become increasingly intertwined in the ‘creative clusters’ discourse. Especially, but not exclusively, many cities in the western world have seen the emergence of co-located creative entrepreneurs, especially in abandoned, formerly industrial buildings on the urban fringe. Some of these creative clusters are the fruits of long-term squats and artists seeking cheap housing, while others have had a much more top-down development. In either form, especially after the publication of a number of cluster promoting reports, academic research and blueprints, the presumed potential of these clusters has become enormous. However, if and how clusters contribute to innovation remains a question yet to be answered.

In my research, I seek to explore the relationships between innovation, place (creative clusters) and the creative industries in a twofold way. First, as innovation is both a complicated and contested notion, the goal of this project is to synthesize existing conceptualizations of innovation, investigate what innovation means for creative entrepreneurs and artists and explore the ways the term is used to legitimate goals and practices of managers, policy makers and artists themselves. Second, processes of innovation are studied by looking at the interrelationships between knowledge transfer, ‘buzz’, image and reputation and historical/physical places.