Boosting Entrepreneurism as a Product of Urban Creativity and Governance: The Almada Idea Laboratory Project

Boosting Entrepreneurism as a Product of Urban Creativity and Governance: The Almada Idea Laboratory Project

Jorge Gonçalves (University of Lisbon, Portugal) and Inês Vilhena da Cunha (Researcher at Inteli, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9567-2.ch024
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This chapter aims to describe and reflect on the experience developed in a metropolitan territory that ambitiously wanted to articulate entrepreneurship, creativity and urban governance. In spaces marked by economic and social crisis the requirement to mobilize synergies between local actors is even more pressing. From the municipality's leadership, Almada Idea Laboratory Project sought to involve university professors and students to generate creative ideas as well as business hosting centre for the installation of projects with greater viability and the community in general that had the opportunity to assess and discuss the product of this effort. The council offered its urban space as a living laboratory. Ideas, business opportunities and, above all, the possibility of creating and strengthening links between actors, often distant, proved a very successful experience both in objective results as in the formation of useful social capital to develop new projects.
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2. Creative And Innovative Cities

There is a process of urban and, above all, metropolitan consolidation in course. And this is not only because, as the most recent global statistics show, for the first time in the history of humanity more than one half of the population lives in cities (UN, 2005). The urban mega-regions not only absorb a high percentage of the total population of the territory they are a part of, but also have the capacity to generate financial and economic weight that can be many times greater than their demographic relevance or spatial dimensions (Fujita, Krugman, & Venables, 2001).

For example, a look at the world’s 10 largest cities shows that they account for one-tenth of the globe’s population. If one shifts the analysis perspective to economic importance, one finds that whilst the 10 most important cities make up “only” 416 million people (i.e., 6.5% of the world’s population) they account for 57% of patented innovations and for 53% of the most-referenced scientists worldwide (Florida, 2008). Hence, what we have here are not just demographic giants but, above all, highly developed economic/financial machines.

Some of these cities today are political, financial and manufacturing hubs with a huge capacity for reinventing themselves, given the power of attraction they exercise over those who wish to succeed in these areas. The laws of physics, which have traditionally been invoked by some territorial models – various gravitational models, Christaller’s Central Place theory, amongst others – continue to prove useful in explaining the self-subsistence of the urban power of attraction based on the game of demographic and economic mass.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Governance: Form as the elements of a community (civic associations, parties, stakeholders, …) organize themselves to design, manage, develop or evaluate certain processes.

Collaborative Governance: Specific mode of governance that stands out for horizontal distribution of power between the various elements as opposed to more vertical or hierarchical forms. Thus, the results tend to be obtained over a consensus that by imposition.

Urban Revitalization: Process by which a part of the city in social, urban or economic crisis undergoes a transformation, more or less deep, in order to reverse the declining trend.

Creativity: Process of generation of new ideas or generation of new links between already existing ideas, with possible impact in the competitive advantages of organizations and territories.

Innovation: Process that articulates new ideas and actions, culminating in new products or new practices, bringing improvements or significant changes to the areas in concern, and where they have influence.

Entrepreneurship: Capacity of a community to create social, economic or others initiatives with influence in the generation of a local development process intensification.

Social Capital: Degree of confidence that the elements of one community reveal between each other with real impact in their internal cohesion.

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