CLIC Startup Competition final event: innovation in action in cultural heritage

From 25th to 27th November, the CLIC Startup Competition took place as an online event marking the final step of an intensive work of the CLIC team to design and develop a capacity-building programme addressed to early-stage startups, informal teams and talented innovators working on a business idea for the adaptive reuse and enhancement of cultural heritage according to the circular economy model.

The initiative was aimed to enhance innovation and entrepreneurship in the cultural heritage sector, which is extremely relevant for European sustainable growth, environmental regeneration and social cohesion.

The call was launched on September 1, 2020, remaining open for more than 60 days. Thanks to the close collaboration with about 40 international partners (including research Institutes and universities investors; twin projects; incubators and cultural foundations) who accepted the invitation to join the initiative, the call was spread at international level. The result was a great success of applications: more than 70 startups, innovators and cultural foundations replied to the call not only from Europe but also from Africa, Asia and USA. A result the CLIC team is particularly proud of!

The international Jury selected 25 projects, grouped in three sectors: Circular tourism; Circular and creative cities and regions; Circular creative industries and social innovation.

Through an online vote, 15 teams accessed the final event, 5 for each topic.  On Nov. 25, more than 150 participants joined the first day sessions. The Director of the Institute for Research on Innovation and Services for Development of the Italian National Research Council, CLIC Project Coordinator and Prof. Luigi Fusco Girard, CLIC Scientific Responsible, welcomed the audience. A local perspective on the importance of innovation in cultural heritage was offered by Valeria Fascione, Representative of Campania Region, Department for Startups Innovation and internationalization. Then Ruba Saleh, ICHEC Brussels Management School,  acting as moderator of the diverse sessions, gave the floor to the 15 teams which presented their projects, detailing the circular value of the service / activity developed.

The programme was enriched by inspiring keynote speakers. Hughes Becquart, Programme Officer at the Creative Europe Programme, shared some policy insights on the workplan for culture, introducing the New European Bauhaus, a movement  intended to be a bridge between the world of science and technology and the world of art and culture, based on sustainability, accessibility and aesthetics to bring the European Green Deal closer to people.

Giuseppe Provenzano, from Union for the Mediterranean, discussed about innovation and employability, highlighting how the collaboration between Academia and industry can become a powerful engine for innovation, increasing employability, promoting intercultural dialogue, and fostering innovative solutions to regional challenges in Mediterranean area. Gianpiero Lotito,CEO and Founder of FacilityLive, focused on the importance of innovation to face the COVID-19 situation as an opportunity to rethink the approach to culture and cultural tourism.

The second session of startups presentation was followed by the inspiring speeches of Servaz van Berkum, from CLIC Pilot, Pakhuis de Zwijger Foundation, who shared the experience of Pakhuis as cultural organization able to stimulate collaboration towards a livable city, designing the future  of the city together with Amsterdam inhabitants, and Silvia Manca, who showed how the European Investment Fund supports the cultural and creative industries. Last but not least, two keynote speachees on circular creative industries and social innovation were taken by two inspiring women: Joke Quintens, Entrepreneur, social designer and facilitator of co-creation processes, who told about WeTopia and Moving Marseille and Mieke Renders, Managing Director at Trans Euurope Halles, sharing sussccesful stories of cultural and creative organisations developed by civic society based in repurposed spaces.

Immediately after the public event, the training session started, under the expert guidance of 012 Factory Innovation Hub, CLIC Strategic partner, who assisted the 15 teams for the implementation of their Pitch Deck. The training kept on until the late afternoon of Nov. 26 when the international jury met to identify the 9 most promising teams who could present the Pitch on the closing day of the Competition scheduled on Nov. 27.

The last day of the CLIC Startup Competition was brilliantly moderated by Ugo Guarnacci, Project Officer at European Commission,  Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, who introduced the 9 teams who delivered amazing presentations. Special guest of the event was the Brazilian “artivist” Mundano (, a street artist who found in street art a powerful mean to express his point of view and question concepts and behaviors of citizens and authorities, especially on social, environmental and political issues. Touching the audience, Mundano talked about his project Pimp My Carroça ( through which he was able to take out of their invisibility the Brazilian catadores, often ignored and marginalized by society, in spite of their key role in keeping Sao Paulo clean, providing a great service for the entire community. A great example of how art can support social justice, cohesion and sustainable development, an inspiring project which was greatly appreciated by the audience.

After Mundano presentation, the awarding ceremony started and winners were finally announced.  Six teams were awarded with a mentoring programme, valued worth €15,000 each: an acceleration programme lasting four months released by Iniziativa Cube, CLIC Partner, who will support the teams in implementing their business model and meeting public and private investors for fundrainsing.

Both winners and finalists will have the opportunity to create a profile on the SEMED platform- Startup Europe Mediterranean,  an initiative developed by the CLIC partner FacilityLive and promoted by the European Commission: a unique opportunity for the startups to get in touch with the innovation ecosystem actors and create fruitful synergies.

Given the high quality of the projects, some CLIC Startup Competition partners decided to support selected teams assigning them special prizes. It was the case of the CNR IRISS providing 2 startups with communication and marketing services, and ICHEC-Brussels Management School, which offered a 20-hour coaching program as part of the new professional training program in cultural entrepreneurship – C-SHIP, aimed at achieving financial sustainability and bridging the upskilling gap in sustainable business management and resilience.

The Enterprise Europe Network, through the National Research Council and  Enterprise Lazio Sardegna Europe hubs, offered six startups the Enhanced Innovation Management Capacity service, a customized support for innovative businesses to increase their performance and competitiveness. A special prize was made available by ENEA – BridgEconomies to support selected startups from Campania Region for growth and internazionalization. 012 Factory offered incubator services to one selected startup and last but not least, the European Venture Philantropy Association, offered one startup free access to the 17th Annual EVPA Conference, an  opportunity to follow a variety of sessions developed and implemented by experts in the field of venture philanthropy and social investment, but also to get directly in touch with different actors in the social economy.

The CLIC team will keep on following the startups in the next months, confident that this could be just the beginning of successful circular innovative businesses for cultural heritage!