The ECoC-SME project recognizes the European Capital of Culture (ECoC) Programme as a yet under-utilised opportunity for cities and regions to develop existing and prospective local small- and medium enterprises (SMEs) via their early engagement in the event. The project focusses on the mega-event’s potentials to trigger, strengthen and diversify local entrepreneurship by encouraging their creative, ‘unconventionally’ cross-sectoral cooperations, clustering and networking, as well as their internationalisation.


In the project, via an iterative process of interregional and local-participatory learning and co-creation, the Partners explore and share approaches and practices to invigorate their local-regional SME sectors and align them with the special contexts of the mega-event in their regions. Exchanges between ‘past/present’ and ‘prospective’ ECoCs — Leeuwarden, Matera, and Rijeka, Timisoara, Kaunas — under the coordination of an expert team at the University of Eastern Finland, and four ‘Local Learning Labs’ in each ECoC city result in new practices and projects tailored to the five territorial contexts and their local/regional policy instruments. Action Plans will be drafted to enrich these instruments and selected measures will be implemented in these cities and regions during the third year of the project.

There is growing interest both from the part of the EU Commission and the participating cities in achieving an efficient use of local and EU resources and maximizing benefits from the ECoC. However, there are no concrete guidelines offered to ECoC hosts for the engagement and encouragement of local SMEs. Therefore, experiences will be shared also with the ECoC Programme to improve its guidelines for applicant cities.

Project partners:

  1. University of Eastern Finland, Finland
  2. Municipality of Leeuwarden, Netherlands
  3. Inqubator Foundation, Netherlands
  4. Materahub Creative and Cultural Industries, Italy
  5. Municipality of Timisoara, Romania
  6. City of Rijeka, Croatia
  7. Vytautas Magnus University Centre for Entreprise Practices, Lithuania

Financed under: Interreg Europe


  • Total project value: 1.163.171,00 €
  • Financed from the programme: 971.936,85  €
  • Budget of the City of Rijeka: 111.049,00 €
  • Financed from the programme: 94.391,65 €

Project duration: 1 August 2019 – 31 July 2022

Official website of the project:

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