Creatives, entrepreneurs and digital innovators from creative hubs across the Cardiff city region have connected to share best practice and provide peer support.

Produced by Cardiff University’s Creative Economy team, in collaboration with creative hubs in the Cardiff Capital Region, the Networking Creative Hubs project has added value to existing partnerships and created new ones.

The hubs involved in the project include Welsh ICE (Caerphilly), Rabble Studio (Cardiff Bay), Tramshed Tech (Cardiff), Sustainable Studio (Cardiff), Hwyl Hub (Merthyr Tydfil), Indycube (UK-wide, but started in Cardiff).

The project, funded by the City Region Exchange, builds on Creative Cardiff’s production of a Pop-up Hub at Wales Millennium Centre in 2016 and Hub Crawl earlier in 2017.

The opening workshop for Networking Creative Hubs was held at the Centre for Skills, Enterprise and Volunteering at Cardiff University. The hubs involved then engaged in a ‘round robin’ exchange, with a representative from one hub visiting the next hub in the chain to create a series of opportunities to share experiences and raise questions.

On 29 June, a knowledge-sharing event at Welsh ICE (Innovation Centre for Enterprise) in Caerphilly concluded the formal part of the process, with the aim being that the connected hubs will now continue to network between themselves.

A range of themes and issues emerged during discussion including: networking and co-operative models, event management, the curation of people and the hub spaces, business rates, city region identity, sharing tech, up-skilling and the collective voice of the hubs.

The hub managers are now planning to develop a peer-support network to enable them to take time out at other hubs and to enable further collaboration.

Chair of Digital Economy at Cardiff University, Professor Ian Hargreaves, said: "How might a university contribute to hubs in the city region? Well, besides networking hubs, we aim to gather reliable evidence about scale, character, value and meaning. We’re helping to generate a picture of the creative economy in the city region as it is such an important part of future of the area in terms of business and cultural life.

"We aim to help develop a policy conversation around this growth area; we need to make it easy for policy makers to make confident, evidence-based decisions in favour of investment."

Gareth Jones, founder of Welsh ICE, said: “It is incredibly important that, as a nascent industry, we share our experience and insights to help each other build sustainable businesses.

“Coworking is a global phenomenon, with thousands of spaces opening every year, but we believe in Wales there is plenty of space in the market to support far more centres.

“We all found spaces to achieve the same thing – bring together creative and like-minded people – and we attract our own community, we shouldn’t see each other as competition, but as like-minded members of that larger community.”

Project co-ordinator Dr Johann Gregory said: “It’s been a pleasure to co-ordinate this project and valuable to think about ways of networking hubs and the creative hubs scene by implementing a series of interactions: visits, workshops, and interviews.

“We are now looking to develop new ways of collaborating with the hubs to vision the hive of activity taking place in the hubs and to support the collective voice of those working in the creative hubs scene of the city region.”

Follow the project on Twitter @CUCreative #NetworkingHubs.

Learn more about creative hubs and co-working spaces in Cardiff and the city region from our dedicated resource.

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