Expert article
Project
Cluj Future of Work Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Edit 06 March 2021
by Simone d'Antonio, UIA Expert

Cluj Future of Work Journal 2: get an update about Cluj Napoca project

Cluj Napoca
UIA Expert Simone d'Antonio provides updates on the most interesting activities carried out in the framework of Cluj Future of Work.
Among these, the kick-off activities of the Culturepreneurs training programme, the process of purchase and installation of the equipment at the three Labs of the Hub for cultural and creative industries hosted by CREIC, and the implementation of the actions emerged by the participatory budgeting process that involved the Roma community of Pata Rât.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The second Journal of Cluj Future of Work analyses the progress of the activities of the UIA project of Cluj-Napoca from January to December 2020. Last year was particularly challenging for Cluj-Napoca, due to the evolution of the Covid-19 emergency, which forced to reshape most of the activities previously planned. However, the pandemic made clear how much future of work is closer than expected to us and how rapid global changes can have an impact on the way we work, as well as on future employment perspectives at national and local level. The feeling of a stronger urgency of the challenges highlighted by the project was shared by all the project partners, and that aspect contributed to foster the group spirit and the mutual collaboration for the success of Cluj Future of Work.

The content of this second Journal is based on the interviews carried out online with all the project partners, and on regular online meetings with the co-management team of the project.

The section 2 of the Journal presents an update of the most important activities carried out in 2020 in the framework of the project. In particular, it focuses on the kick-off activities of the Culturepreneurs training programme, on the process of purchase and installation of the equipment at the three Labs of the Hub for cultural and creative industries hosted by CREIC, and on the implementation of the actions emerged by the participatory budgeting process that involved the Roma community of Pata Rât.

The section 3 of the Journal highlights the implementation challenges, with particular reference on aspects which became particularly important also due to the consequences of the Covid-19 emergency, such as the financial sustainability, the process of public procurement and the monitoring and evaluation of the impact of the actions at urban level.

The section 4 of the Journal provides a taste of the activities that are going to happen in 2021, and the lessons learned by all the partners involved in the implementation of Cluj Future of Work.

Despite the terrible effects that the pandemic had on Romanian economy and on the everyday life of its most important cities, such as Cluj-Napoca which strongly suffered the consequences of lockdown on the vibrancy of its cultural and economic life, the tenacity showed by Cluj Future of Work in successfully continuing its activities (even if partly online, such as the trainings of the Culturepreneurs programme) was seen as a ray of light and a sign of hope, testifying that the economic and social recovery is possible if the scheme of collaboration proposed by the project and its partners is replicated in different fields of urban life.

  

CLUJ FUTURE OF WORK: PROJECT UPDATE

The last year was full of important achievements for Cluj Future of Work, leading towards the core of the implementation of most of the actions initially planned.  The preparation of some important activities, that will be furtherly detailed in this section, was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic but a Risk Assessment and Mitigation Plan was immediately prepared by the City of Cluj-Napoca and the Cluj Cultural Centre who are co-managing the project.  

A resilient attitude was immediately developed by the project partners, with most of them representing some of the most affected categories by the job crisis as a consequence of the pandemic  emergency (such as cultural and creative industries employees and informal workers).Cultural actors, universities, businesses and IT clusters adhered massively to the platform Un Singur Cluj[1], an independent initiative launched by individuals and entities active in the festival sector and supported by the Cluj Cultural Centre and the City of Cluj Napoca. The active participation of many project partners to this initiative was also positive for Cluj Future of Work, because it created a further arena for cooperation, deepening personal relations and encouraging people to cooperate at a wider scale. 

 

This strengthened climate of mutual trust was decisive also for readjusting collaboratively some of the actions initially planned to be implemented in 2020, bringing the view beyond the current hardships.
The action of rethinking the way of implementing most of the project actions in a year dominated by uncertainty, as for instance the Culturepreneurs programme initially foreseen with onsite classes but then implemented totally online in its first part, was important also to test how these innovative measures can be durably included in the urban strategies for improving skills of young professionals and potential actors of the cultural and creative economy. 

“Not often one gets to witness the exact behaviour from an intended theory of change in a multi-actor arena. To see the level of cooperation and commitment from cultural and creative industry leaders in Cluj-Napoca to increase the city’s preparedness for the COVID-19 emergency state was an humble indicator that our UIA initiative has made an inspired bet to invest in this area and social capital” says Anamaria Vrabie, director of Cluj-Napoca Urban Innovation Unit within Cluj Cultural Centre and co-manager of Cluj Future of Work

 

[1] Un Singur Cluj, https://unsingurcluj.ro/

The Culturepreneurs programme

Cultural and creative industries are among the ones most hit by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the estimation made by Eurostat[1], the COVID-19 crisis may affect about 7.3 million cultural and creative jobs across the EU, representing 3.7% of total employment at EU level. There is no doubt that in an European landscape where the more fragile players, such as young people, self-employed and potential entrepreneurs, are suffering the consequences of the current situation of crisis, the need for education on more sustainable business models in cultural and creative industries is on the rise. This assumption can contribute to explain the high number of applications received after the launch in May 2020 of the call for Culturepreneurs, the entrepreneurial educational program for the cultural and creative sector promoted by Cluj Future of Work.

Culturepreneurs is developed and coordinated by the Cluj Cultural Centre, in continuation with the previous editions of the programme that in the framework of Cluj Future of Work involves a series of partners, each of them responsible for the management of one of the four courses composing Culturepreneurs.  

Out of 106 candidatures received in total, 69 applicants were selected to take part to the incubation program, whose activities expected to take place in 2020 were completely redesigned to be carried out online, instead than with traditional onsite classes.

Since March to July 2020, the project partners ARIES Transylvania IT Cluster, Arts and Design University, Cluj IT Cluster, Transylvania Furniture Cluster and Transylvania International Film Festival worked together with the Cluj Cultural Centre, that led the co-design of the entire process, to create the curricula and to decide how to deliver the training activities of the different learning modules. The representatives of these partners were included in the selection committee, which interviewed each candidate in the second half of July 2020 and evaluated them taking into account, among different criteria, the feasibility of the entrepreneurial project in the cultural and creative sector proposed in the application form, the potential impact at urban and community level of the project to be implemented after the Culturepreneurs programme, social competences (curiosity, resilience and communication) and entrepreneurial skills (such as vision and strategic thinking).  

Image 1: Screenshot of the digital class of Culturepreneurs. Source: Cluj Cultural Centre
Image 1: Screenshot of the digital class of Culturepreneurs. Source: Cluj Cultural Centre

More than just focusing on the technical aspects, such as the digital platforms to be used for teaching and ensuring the development of engaging exchange dynamics among the students, the most challenging aspect was the selection of the topics to be included in the curricula. Bearing in mind its potential replicability, the innovative aspect of this process of co-creation involving different partners was to imagine since the beginning how this amount of knowledge can be shared as a common good in different innovation and education ecosystems of the city, in order to spread an entrepreneurial culture in different urban contexts (schools, university faculties, enterprises, clusters and so on) in the years to come.

The first part, dedicated to business essentials, was delivered from September to December 2020 completely online while the beginning of the specialized modules, to be held in class at the Labs installed at CREIC, was postponed to January 2021 in order to better cope with the effects of the Covid-19 situation (which made impossible to carry out laboratorial activities in 2020).

The Business Essentials part was divided into six modules (Managing and Strategy; Marketing and Communication; Finance and Legal; System Thinking and Open Innovation; Digitalisation; Artistic Thinking), reflecting the different backgrounds of the partners involved in the action. The modules combined basic entrepreneurial skills to cutting-edge topics, such as creative and artistic thinking or open innovation. These last contributed to better characterize the learning path towards innovative entrepreneurship in cultural and creative industries.

 

The structure of the training modules was proposed by the Cluj Cultural Centre and co-designed with project partners in the thematic Steering Committee on Culturepreneurs, conceiving them as an opportunity to make international and local trainers work together, with the objective of preparing an effective transfer of the contents of the curricula to the participants. The international and national experts trained the participants and inspired some of the aspects that emerged from the Business Essentials modules in Masterclass sessions. At the same time, the assistant trainers of the modules worked in small groups or mentored the participants in one-to-one sessions, in order to fine-tune the project ideas and better prepare them for the pitching session, which took place online on 15 December.

51 out of 65 participants in Culturepreneurs applied to present their project ideas during the session, designed to be held exclusively online: each participant had seven minutes to present the defining aspects of the project to be developed and receive questions or recommendations from the jury composed by partners’ representatives, mentors, experts and entrepreneurs of the cultural and creative sector.

In order to receive a prize of 1200 euros, to be invested on marketing and product development, each participant had to fulfil 60% of a series of criteria. Some of them, as active participation in the modules and activities of the program and progress in the incubation period since the launch of the project, were evaluated during the first phase of the programme with trainers’ feedbacks or coaches’ reports. Other criteria (ability to further develop the project; attitude and communication skills; potential impact of the project on the target audience; strategy for launching and developing the project on the market) were judged during the pitching session by the members of the jury. 

All the 51 participants who pitched their project ideas received the prize of 1200 euro, having fulfilled 60% of the criteria mentioned above. The diversity and inventiveness of the projects presented in areas such as product design, non-formal education, technology, furniture industry and textile industry, positively surprised the members of the Jury and are promising elements in view of the next pitching sessions, scheduled for May 2021.

Even though the whole process was initially disrupted by the pandemic emergency, the collaborative creation of a blended model combining digital activities and on-class laboratories tested in Cluj-Napoca gives a glimpse into the future of skills development. The engagement of many different local actors in upskilling potential entrepreneurs in cultural and creative sector appears as an interesting action coherent with the aims and the scheme proposed by the Pact for Skills recently launched by the European Commission. Combining all these elements to an integrated use of technologies and the collaboration with international knowledge hubs and resources, Culturepreneurs managed to show its validity already in its first phase, making visible its potential replicability in other cities at EU and global level.


[1]

Montalto, V., Sacco, P.L., Alberti, V., Panella, F. and Saisana, M., European Cultural and Creative Cities in COVID-19 times, EUR 30249 EN, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2020

The Labs at CREIC

Designing and equipping a physical space to test the use of innovative technologies is a decisive step to make the innovation produced by projects as Cluj Future of Work visible to the city. This space can be recognized as a playground by potential entrepreneurs in cultural and creative sector, but also to the local, national and international community of academics and start-uppers who can be interested in creating new partnerships with local innovators. 

Equipping the Labs hosted by CREIC (Centrul Regional de Excelență pentru Industrii Creative – Regional Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries), that will be used by the participants of the specialized modules of Culturepreneurs to refine and test their project ideas from January 2021 until the end of the project, was one of the main actions of Cluj Future of Work in 2020. The City of Cluj Napoca actively collaborated with many project partners in a long acquisition process, that highlighted some of the most common obstacles in a process of public procurement for innovation.  

First of all, representatives of Cluj IT Cluster, Transylvania Furniture Cluster and Transylvania International Film Festival with contributions from the Arts and Design University compiled a list of the equipment to be bought for the CGI&VFX Lab, Design Development Lab and Work 4.0 and Machine Learning Lab and collaborated with the City of Cluj Napoca in writing the technical documents for the tender to be published on the national platform for public acquisitions called SICAP.   

Each Lab will be functional to the realization of the laboratorial activities of specialized modules of the Culturepreneurs programme:

  • The CGI&VFX Lab will host the activities of the Innovative Audiovisual Content module, animated by Transylvania International Film Festival. The Lab will explore the use of digital-generated images and visual effects for a wide range of purposes. The Lab is equipped with Motion Capture System, 360° Panoramic Camera System, Rendering Farm System software and computers for design and CGI. 95% of the equipment listed in the tender were successfully acquired and are correctly installed at CREIC, ready to be used in the first months of 2021.
  • The Design Development Lab will host the activities of the Personalised Design Module, animated by Transylvania Furniture Cluster. The equipment of the Lab will be used for testing and validation of new products and services in the furniture industry. The Lab is equipped with machines for product development, laptops, software and VR glasses. The equipment were correctly bought and installed at the CREIC, ready to be used in January 2021.
  • The Work 4.0 and Machine Learning Lab will host the activities of the Gamification module, led by Cluj It Cluster.  The Lab will be equipped with computers, sensors, hardware involving augmented and virtual reality, robotics and software useful to simulate automatized movement. The acquisition procedure was not yet completed and the installation of the equipment is due to be completed by March 2021.
Labs at CREIC
Labs at CREIC
Images 2 and 3: The installation of the equipment of the Design Development Lab at CREIC  Sources: Transylvania Furniture Cluster (Image 2) and City of Cluj Napoca
Image 4: The equipment installed at the CGI&VFX Lab at CREIC  Source: City of Cluj Napoca
Image 4: The equipment installed at the CGI&VFX Lab at CREIC  Source: City of Cluj Napoca

The adaptation to the safety rules during the autumn months in which Covid-19 hit harder in Cluj-Napoca made the installation of the equipment and the management of the spaces rented at CREIC more complex than expected. Nevertheless, the delays were limited and all the activities in the Labs will start in the first months of 2021. A special attention was given to the elaboration of safety procedures and to the creation of systems which can ensure the respect of personal distancing rules and the rotating presence of a limited number of students in the Labs.

The collaboration between the co-management team of the project and the partners in charge of listing the equipment to be purchased in the framework of the public procurement process created an useful dynamic to reason on how to make the Labs useful not only to the participants of the Culturepreneurs programme, but also to other groups of interest, such as schools and universities, businesses and stakeholders active in Cluj-Napoca. The objective is to exploit the equipment as much as possible and foster the access to subjects, such as film companies or furniture and design factories, that may be interested in continuing to use them after the end of Cluj Future of Work.

“The equipment that we are buying for the Labs is now more needed than before the pandemic: they can be decisive for increasing digital skills for all. Having this infrastructure and the curricula of Culturepreneurs can give more opportunities to local talents who don’t have a lot of places where to grow their ideas: with the help of this program we can create an ecosystem of people who can generate startups and business opportunities in Cluj-Napoca” says Ovidiu Cîmpean, Director of Investment and Local Development Department and co-manager of Cluj Future of Work, City of Cluj Napoca[1]

In the meanwhile, the City allowed the students of the Faculty of Theatre and Movies of the Babeș-Bolyai University to use the Labs and is going to ensure better accessibility for all to the CREIC, located seven kilometers far from the city centre, through increasing from January 2021 the frequency of the shuttle bus connecting the city centre to the structure.

A wider reflection on making the Labs model sustainable at economic level also after the end of the Culturepreneurs activities is ongoing among the partners. Opening up this reflection to other innovative stakeholders active at local and national level can foster a debate on how to make innovation hubs a decisive part of the urban fabric, as happened in other cities in Europe in recent years. What is happening in cities as Barcelona, Amsterdam and Turin, just to mention few examples of urban contexts in which science parks and startup incubators are playing a decisive role for urban growth, may be particularly inspiring: these cities are testing effective management models shared by public and private actors, with these last facilitating connections within their business networks, but are also making their innovation hubs crucial places to attract talents internationally and retain them at urban level, with ripple effect in terms of urban innovation.

Image 4: CREIC is the structure hosting the Labs equipped by Cluj Future of Work. Source: City of Cluj Napoca
Image 4: CREIC is the structure hosting the Labs equipped by Cluj Future of Work. Source: City of Cluj Napoca
 

[1] Festivals, film industry and multimedia products after the pandemic: Cluj-Napoca gives a glimpse of the future https://www.uia-initiative.eu/en/news/festivals-film-industry-and-multimedia-products-after-pandemic-clujnapoca-gives-glimpse-future


 

The participatory budgeting process in Pata Rât

Fostering the access to work for informal workers is one of the priorities of Cluj Future Of Work, carried out through a participatory process involving the Roma community living in the landfill area of Pata Rât aimed at removing the most relevant obstacles to the access to decent jobs through offering training activities for the establishment of new enterprises and improving local welfare services.

Between January and February 2020, the participatory budgeting process in the Pata Rât community was completed, with a series of consultative and informative meetings attended by 90 local residents. At the end of the process, five ideas emerged as priorities on which invest the resources dedicated by Cluj Future of Work for improving the working conditions of informal workers. Most of the ideas emerged were related to the creation of better services to reduce the gap between Pata Rât and the rest of the city. Actions as ensuring a better access to wi-fi connection, the creation of public transport routes liaising the informal settlement to the city centre or the installation of sanitary infrastructure were presented by the residents of Pata Rât as pre-conditions for a better access to work, but also as a way to improve the life conditions of the people living in the informal settlement.

The Covid-19 emergency dramatically highlighted the lack of basic services, such as running water, in the Pata Rât area. For that reasons, the City of Cluj Napoca and the FoW project partner responsible for the project’s activities in Pata Rat ADI-ZMC, decided to reshape the priority interventions to be carried out in the area focusing on the elements much needed by the local community to face the impact of the pandemic emergency.

The installation of two sanitary containers with showers, sinks and flush toilets and the distribution of food packs to the residents of Pata Rât were quickly carried out, giving immediate relief to the residents during the first phase of the emergency. Structural interventions, such as the installation of the hardware infrastructure for covering the whole area with wireless internet connection, were then made and are contributing to pose the basis for economic and social recovery in an area where most of the informal workers saw their sources of income considerably reduced during the pandemic.

Image 6: An engineer is testing the wi-fi connection just installed in Pata Rât. Source: ADI-ZMC
Image 6: An engineer is testing the wi-fi connection just installed in Pata Rât. Source: ADI-ZMC
Image 7: Sanitary modules deployed in Pata Rât. Source:ADI-ZMC
Image 7: Sanitary modules deployed in Pata Rât. Source:ADI-ZMC

 

Reskilling informal workers is one of the top priorities emerged by the action of dialogue carried out on the ground by the facilitators constantly in touch with the local community of Pata Rât, where some services such as second chance schooling are already delivered by other NGOs and institutions but are less known by the population.

The support to the creation of new business activities will be particularly important for economic recovery in Pata Rât. For that reason, at the end of 2020 the process of selection of eight business ideas (out of 14 candidatures received) to be incubated was completed with the final selection of new potential entrepreneurs of the community, who will get support in drafting a business plan and starting up a small business activity. In the framework of Cluj Future of Work the project ideas selected will receive a tailor-made assistance to start simple business activities needing a small amount of money to be launched, such as delivery services, flowers selling or construction activities, but strongly connected to emerging markets in Cluj-Napoca. 

The combination between the delivery of basic services and the support to the creation of small enterprises can be decisive in the post-pandemic period to promote new integrated policies for the residents of Pata Rât, contributing at the same time to improve the welfare policies for other deprived groups residing in Cluj-Napoca and stimulating the creation of similar integrated policies also at metropolitan, regional and national level.

IMPLEMENTATION CHALLENGES

All the implementation challenges were addressed by Cluj Future of Work in 2020, with different levels of relevance and intensity.

Challenge
Observation

Challenge

Leadership
Challenge level

Observations

The City of Cluj Napoca and the Cluj Cultural Centre consolidated their leadership in 2020, refining the style of the co-management structure which characterizes since the beginning the way in which the project is coordinated and the collaboration with the delivery partners. The introduction of new management tools, such as a monthly Steering Committee organized every first Thursday of the month, contributed to make the leadership approach more tangible to the delivery partners, while improving the mutual collaboration and the transparency of the decision-making process.

The re-election of the incumbent Mayor Emil Boc in September 2020 is a positive element to reinforce political leadership around a flagship project as Cluj Future Of Work, which is going to finalize the implementation of most of its activities in 2021. A strong political leadership and the active role of the Investment and Local Development Department are guaranteeing a smooth implementation process and a balanced share of tasks and responsibilities within the local authority.

Undoubtedly, Cluj Future of Work is connected to a long-term vision, having at its core the support to innovative entrepreneurship in cultural and creative industries and the reskilling of workers in sectors at risk as potential leverages of growth for the whole community and elements of attractiveness at regional and national level. A stronger political investment on these topics can contribute to make the project and its activities also a leverage for improving employment and social services offered by the city, in order to make the whole local community benefit of the innovation produced by Cluj Future of Work which may be applied and transferred to other relevant sectors of the local economy. This evolution could be particularly important to underline the value of the investment on skills development for creating better jobs on medium and long term at urban level.

Challenge

Public procurement
Challenge level

Observations

Public procurement confirmed to be one of the most relevant challenges of the project. Due to the pandemic emergency, the tenders for the acquisition of the equipment to be installed into the Film Lab, Design Lab and Work 4.0 Lab at CREIC were launched later than expected.

The list of the equipment was drafted in collaboration with the delivery partners in charge of managing the training activities in the framework of the specialized modules of the Culturepreneurs programme. The dynamic of collaboration with the Procurement office in charge of the tender procedures was particularly challenging, reflecting the set of problems usually experienced by the cities when they launch procurement for innovative and highly specialized equipment.

The procedure was slowed down also because of the change in national legislation in Romania, which establishes that procurement procedures exceeding 2 million Lei (410.602 Euros) can be launched only after the issue of a certificate of the Agency for Digitalization of Romania.

After the launch of the tender procedures in February 2020 on the national acquisition portal SICAP, only the bid for the equipment for the CGI&VFX Lab received offers and the selection procedure was completed on time. The finalization of the public procurement process for the Design Development Lab was delayed because it didn’t receive offers, therefore the tender had to be reissued. At a later stage, further delays were related to the suspension of the activities by the company in charge of designing the laboratory, due to a Covid-19 hotspot.  

The process was only completed in October 2020.  The public procurement process for the Machine Learning and Work 4.0 Lab was launched in February 2020 too but an offer higher than the limit of 2 million Lei imposed by the national procedures was received by the City, that had to request a certificate of authorization that was approved on 31 December 2020.

The hardship incurred by Cluj Future of Work are explainable by the high level of specialization of the equipment required, by the Covid-19 emergency (which retarded the delivery of equipment produced and assembled mostly abroad but blocked in the factories because of the borders closing) and by the rigidity of national legislation on procurement. The whole process was tense and time-consuming for all the different actors involved, such as the co-management team, the partners and the City offices in charge of public procurement

However, the hardships faced by the local authority in the public procurement process can lead to some reflections on how to create adaptive mechanisms in order to deal with procurement of innovation and to cope with unforeseen scenarios, such as the pandemic emergency or other local occurrences, which may disrupt the regular development of the pre-established procedures.   

On the other side, the situation of pandemic emergency was also a nudge to expedite procedures in the case of the acquisition of sanitary containers to be installed in the Pata Rât area. The public procurement process was smoothly accomplished through the national platform of public acquisition SICAP and the containers installed in a few weeks, helping to solve some of the most urgent needs of the residents of Pata Rât, which were clearly presented in the dialogue with the  representatives of the local authority and project partners. The timely installation of the containers is contributing to create the basic pre-conditions for the access to work of the Roma community living in that settlement.

Challenge

Organizational arrangements within the urban authority
Challenge level

Observations

The collaboration among different departments is a sensitive topic, which grew worse because of the pandemic emergency which reshaped the order of priorities and saw most of the City departments mostly focused on timely measures to contrast the current crisis than on focusing on forward-looking projects constantly breaking the traditional silos, such as the UIA projects.

However, the collaboration between the co-management team and the Financial and Procurement departments was temperamental but at the end managed to foster the implementation of the actions planned with a limited delay. The realization of a realist risk assessment analysis, the repurpose of some activities and the finalization of the public procurement process were some of the fields which required a strong collaboration among different departments of the City.   

The coordination mechanism put in place by the Cluj Cultural Centre and the City of Cluj Napoca proved its effectiveness in managing a rapid reorientation of the project activities in a year of emergency, showing a resilient attitude that can be precious in view of the full inclusion of the Urban Innovation Unit, created in 2017 by the City and the Cluj Cultural Centre, in the City’s organizational structure in 2022.

Fostering the connection between the actions carried out in the framework of Cluj Future of Work, such as the educational programme for cultural entrepreneurship or the participatory scheme for deprived groups, and the thematic policies carried out by the City (such as Education and Welfare/Social Affairs) can be an important progress at the current stage of implementation. This action may lead to a long-term and inclusive improvement of local policies simultaneously with the finalization of the actions carried out in the framework of Cluj Future of Work.

Challenge

Participative approach for co-implementation
Challenge level

Observations

The active role of the partners in the implementation of the actions of the project is a relevant element to be highlighted in Cluj Future of Work. The introduction of new coordination and reporting procedures, such as the monthly Steering Committee meeting and the biannual progress report for each Working Package, were effective in keeping all the delivery partners motivated also through the use of new animation techniques developed to make online meetings more interactive, such as the use of quizzes and interactive tools. As highlighted above, the pandemic crisis instilled a positive sense of urgency making the challenges of future of work faced by the project concretely tangible in the present: this aspect contributed to raise the commitment and the team spirit among the partners, fostering a stronger collaboration also on the operational aspects of the project.

However, the active involvement of local community around the project was limited since the year was mostly dedicated to the implementation of the actions and to solve urgent issues emerged as consequences of the pandemic emergency. Due to the impossibility of organizing in-person events, the annual conference on Future of Work was cancelled and the City of Cluj Napoca and the Cluj Cultural Centre decided to not replace it with an online events, waiting for the end of the current emergency to organize the annual dissemination event on the topics related the project in its traditional physical format.  

As soon as most of the actions are getting to a decisive point in terms of implementation, a stronger involvement of local community could be useful in order to open the reflection on the future of work, and its rapid evolution after the current crisis, to a wider public at local and national level. This action can be useful also to involve different types of stakeholders in the definition and implementation of consolidated urban policies developed as evolution of the actions tested in the framework of Cluj Future of Work on different fields, such as the support to innovative entrepreneurship in cultural and creative sector or the participatory selection of welfare priority interventions for deprived groups. Regarding the latter, the active participation of 90 residents of Pata Rât in the participatory budget meetings organized at the beginning of 2020 indicates the interest of potential recipients of innovative schemes in taking part to community initiatives accompanied by an intensive work of facilitation and local engagement. This is a positive signal of attention, which highlights how this kind of initiatives can be replicated in other targeted categories, such as workers who can potentially participate to reskilling activities, to raise awareness and encourage a collaborative commitment on the topics related Cluj Future of Work.

Challenge

Monitoring and evaluation
Challenge level

Observations

The City of Cluj Napoca and the Cluj Cultural Centre are monitoring the implementation of the actions and the results achieved in close cooperation with all the partners through regular Steering Committee meetings, involving representatives of all the delivery partners involved, and thematic Steering Committees on specific aspects of the project, such as communication and Culturepreneurs activities. The biannual progress report for each Working Package is a useful tool for monitoring the achievement of the expected results and to discuss possible modifications at operational level. In 2020, the realization of a realistic risk assessment analysis was particularly important to track and mitigate possible changes according to the evolution of the pandemic emergency.     

The City of Cluj Napoca is creating a coherent framework for evaluation of project results in collaboration with the Babeș-Bolyai University, which is going to be contracted to that purpose. The framework that is going to be created will be based on quantitative and qualitative indicators, such as the number of jobs that can be transferred to the 4.0 environment or the new competences developed by the employees endangered from technological unemployment, and the entire framework will be decisive to demonstrate the impact produced by the project at urban level.

Some of the project activities are evaluated with a different system, in order to measure the beneficiaries’ satisfaction. In the case of Culturepreneurs, the evaluation system is embedded into the learning process journey and a complete evaluation will be available in the first half of 2021 even though from a first analysis of the elements collected the level of satisfaction is particularly high, despite the activities were carried out completely online than onsite.

The definition of a clear framework for the implementation is fundamental to highlight the wide range of results achieved by the project and to underline the elements of major interest that may be included in more structured policies at the end of the project, such as including elements of the Culturepreneurs curricula in other academic training paths on entrepreneurship in cultural and creative sector. The active involvement of all the partners in the definition of the monitoring and evaluation framework is fundamental to generate awareness of the results produced, in order to validate the model proposed by Cluj Future of Work.

Challenge

Communication with target beneficiaries and users
Challenge level

Observations

The communication networks of the Cluj Cultural Centre and the ones managed by the partners guaranteed a widespread promotion of the opportunities offered by the project to different target publics.

Local stakeholders and thematic audience, such as students or potential entrepreneurs, were mobilized by the partners at the occasion of the launch of the Culturepreneurs call. The use of digital and traditional tools (such as articles on local media) for the campaign promoting the adhesion to the programme was successful to stimulate a relevant number of applicants and to raise the awareness in specific types of public on the opportunities and the topics of Cluj Future of Work. Despite the lack of physical opportunities to meet and present the programme, the reaction of the local community of students and potential entrepreneurs was positive also due to the detailed action of scouting and promotion carried out by each partner in its community.

Focusing the communication to a niche audience of students, experts, innovators and potential innovators was a clear choice of Cluj Future Of Work for its activities on entrepreneurship on creative and cultural sector, while more direct relational communication tools, such as door-to-door promotion, established by community facilitators proved to be effective to involve a considerable number of residents of Pata Rât in the participatory budget meetings organized at the beginning of 2020.

Widening up the scope of communication to different types of audience at local level can be important at this stage to better promote the results of the project and to raise attention on topics, such as the rapid evolution of the work, that are at the core of the debate in many national public opinions in Europe. The innovative actions tested in Cluj Napoca can contribute with their results to change the conversation on future of work, providing useful and inspiring elements in a historical moment characterized by uncertain job outlooks.     

Challenge

Upscaling
Challenge level

Observations

The second year of activity of Cluj Future of Work was mainly focused on the implementation of many crucial actions of the project while the final year will be more dedicated to sharing and transferring knowledge produced in the framework of the project.

First of all, in terms of governance, the positive results achieved by the practice of co-management, completely unique for Cluj-Napoca, can be the right premise to the partial transfer of the Innovation Unit in the City’s organizational chart in 2022. The Urban Innovation Unit within Cluj Cultural Centre has designed Cluj Future of Work as part of its thematic work on  future of work and is currently co-managing the project, documenting also practices of collective actions and multi-actor cooperation at city level.

Actions as the Culturepreneurs programme and the system of innovation procurement, initiated in 2020, have a good potential for upscaling while the management system of the Labs, entering in force in 2021, looks interesting too in terms of transferability.

A gradual upscaling looks as the most suitable option to consolidate and transfer the knowledge produced and the models that proved to be successful but this action will be finalized in the final part of the project and the collaboration of all the partners will be needed, in order to transfer it at different scales and contexts. The inclusion of elements on entrepreneurship in arts and culture, inspired by what is happening in Culturepreneurs, in many curricula of the Arts and Design University is one of the examples of how the action of upscaling is already blossoming. This action can be consolidated through but a strong support by the local authority, in order to make the actions on future of work part of structured and consolidated policies at urban level.

NEXT STEPS AND CONCLUSIONS

During the upcoming months Cluj Future of Work will continue the implementation of some of the most important actions of the projects. The specialized modules of the Culturepreneurs programme will start the in-class courses at the three Labs at CREIC, where all the equipment will be installed and rehearsed in order to be fully operational at the beginning of the laboratorial activities. The entrepreneurial projects in cultural and creative sector presented by the students will be furtherly refined and fine-tuned, in view of the next Pitching session which will take place in March 2021 that will reward five projects with tailor-made marketing support for internationalization. 

Opening up the project to wider horizons and communities is the main objective of Cluj Future of Work for 2021. The Cluj Cultural Centre is going to launch an experimental programme for facilitating and microfinancing activities aimed at rethinking work practices. The re:form programme will provide a financial support, with grants ranging between 3000 and 5000 euros, to support cultural organizations willing to test innovative work  practices rethinking traditional organizational methods. This innovation fellowship will contribute to reimagining work, one of the main objectives of Cluj Future of Work, and will provide useful elements to be replicated and transferred to other cultural and creative industries at the end of the project.

A strong focus will be given to activities showcasing the results of the actions carried out at local level and raising awareness on the challenges related the future of work among different types of public. The major event organized to this end will be the ZAIN Creativity Festival, taking place in October 2021 in different locations in Cluj Napoca. Community events involving the cultural and creative sector of the city, exhibitions, public conferences and workshops will mobilize a wide audience around the future challenges of work in culture, putting the main elements emerged by Cluj Future of Work at the core an open urban conversation on the topic.

As highlighted by this second Journal, Cluj Future of Work is effectively changing the narrative on a future of work that is closer to us than expected, contributing to see it, not as something scary but as a challenge to be faced in a collaborative way. The innovative actions carried out in Cluj Napoca show how the cooperation among all the different actors of the innovation ecosystem is crucial to generate new entrepreneurial ideas and approaches, that can be decisive to help the local community to deal with the uncertainty of the current historical epoch. With its capacity of inspiring some of the categories more at risk in the current and future scenarios, such as workers and potential entrepreneurs in cultural and creative sector and deprived groups, Cluj Future of Work is confirming its originality in the European landscape while showing a good potential for replicability and dialogue with other similar urban initiatives at European and global level.

 

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