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  • Writer's pictureRobin Van Gansbeke

Designing a learning and innovation hub for the cultural sector

Updated: Feb 6




Cultural organizations often lack the necessary knowledge, manpower, and experimental space to link their cultural operations – internal processes, value creation, audience experience – to digital opportunities, both operationally and strategically. Cultuurconnect, the Flemish organization that supports public libraries and venues in their digital challenges, asked Scopernia to conduct a feasibility study on the outlines of a new learning and innovation hub to assist the broad cultural sector with these challenges.


A feasibility study on the outlines of a new learning and innovation hub to assist the broad cultural sector with their digital transformation.



Context


Cultural organizations often lack the proper knowledge and insights to effectively undertake digital transformation. There is a shortage of time, expertise, and experimental space to formulate a strong response to the rapid evolutions. Hesitation and cumbersome change management mean that progress is slow. Cultuurconnect aims to accelerate digital maturity and innovative capability in the cultural sector with the development of a specialized learning and innovation hub. Scopernia supported the strategy exercise and provided conceptualization and an implementation plan.




Objectives


This project had two central objectives:


  • To develop a widely supported concept and strategy for a learning and innovation hub, which must convince the Flemish government to provide the necessary operational resources.

  • To create a plan with financial and organizational options to set up the hub effectively and efficiently.




Approach: Venture Design journey


We initiated the project with desk research and interviews with stakeholders to gain a clear understanding of the client's challenge, the needs within the cultural sector, existing (international) best practices, and more. Based on this, we developed an initial strategic concept with Cultuurconnect in several workshops. We set objectives and priority target groups and identified conditions and risks.


We structured the concept around four strategic pillars:


  • Inspiring: providing insight into existing and future challenges, opportunities, best practices, etc.

  • Activating: transferring knowledge and teaching skills so that individuals can apply them independently.

  • Experiment: offering space to apply the knowledge and test new things.

  • Incubating: the sustainable development, deepening, and integration of the outcomes of experiments into the daily practice of cultural organizations, where meaningful, through scaling up the experiments into a shared service for the cultural sector.

For each pillar, we then defined the activities the learning and innovation hub should undertake. We made forecasts regarding costs and capabilities and developed three variants for operationalization, ranging from moderately to highly ambitious. Finally, we analyzed how the hub could fit meaningfully into the broader ecosystem of government, businesses, cultural organizations, and educational institutions.




Results and impact


The result of our efforts was a detailed and quantified business plan for a learning and innovation hub, with implementation in three variants. Based on this, Cultuurconnect can build a strong case to convince the Flemish government to allocate the necessary funding for the hub. Cultuurconnect will start the concrete preparations for launching this operation from 2024.


A detailed and quantified business plan for a learning and innovation hub, with implementation in three variants.

This case highlights that in certain situations, it can be sensible and feasible to start entirely new activities to address new challenges. Experimentation and entrepreneurship are then given space alongside the core business, which needs predictability and stability. In the long term, if the new venture is successful, forms of integration into the core strategy and parent company can be considered.




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