Co-working is a relatively new phenomenon in Italy. Strictly connected with the new philosophy of social innovation, social enterprise, crowd and sharing economy (sharing skills, ideas, projects not just spaces) and the economic crisis (the need to reduce costs by cutting office rent), it has been profoundly influenced by other European experiences, primarily those coming from UK and Germany.
First co-working experiences have been created 2-3 years ago, they were all related to the most popular co-working network theHUB.net, now called IMPACT HUB.
Current trends are in line with the rest of Europe where, between 2011 and 2012, the number of co-working spaces doubled.
Italian trends and models
Looking at the country, we detected some general trends and models:
- public intervention to support the recovery of buildings and spaces, turning their destination to co-working and other aggregation centres. The management of the structure is private and this is the case for the majority of the IMPACT HUB spaces;
- private financed and owned spaces (very often with bank or foundations financing);
- other experimentations with particular models (university based co-working, business incubators with co-working spaces, co-living/co-working experiences).
Co-working spaces are more and more populated by start-ups for two order of reasons:
- they provide a creative environment where to find inspiration, skills, knowledge to build projects and ideas;
- they allow to cut significantly costs for start-ups facing serious budget problems during the first years.
Some co-working have their own specific philosophy and the selection of members is strictly related by a set of rules and principles:
- the IMPACT HUB network is giving space just to entrepreneurs with a business with a clear social mission;
- sector based spaces like Talent Garden just for marketing area professionals or MULTIVERSO just for young experts of communication;
- universities at forefront of innovation, like private universities, have dedicated co-working and incubation programs for the start-ups born from specific educational paths. A clear example is LUISS ENLABS.
Generally speaking, Italy is following the world trends as for the start-up “revolution” and the sharing economy approach. The Italian government, through the law decree RESTART ITALIA, is giving the right relevance to all those measures that could support a fertile environment for start-ups. The decree sees co-working as the most adapt “space” for contamination and nourishment of business ideas and young entrepreneurs.
Italian co-working: a list
In Italy co-working are spreading like mushrooms all over the country. Today cities like Bologna and Milan have several spaces providing similar services. In order to map all these experiences, sites like Coworkingfor (http://www.coworkingfor.com/index.xhtml) were created to provide lists of all spaces in each and every Italian city.
The most popular international network of co-working spaces. Italy is the country with the higher number of spaces (7), covering the whole country.
Part innovation lab, part business incubator, and part community center, it offers to members a unique ecosystem of resources, inspiration, and collaboration opportunities to grow impact.
Born as a single space, it is now a network spread all over Italy. It has a strong focus on specific sectors so the entrepreneurs accepted are all part of the same sector.
MAKE A CUBE
At Make a Cube, ideas turn into action. The space welcomes start ups with high potential for creating social and green value. They provide comprehensive business support services, including back-office, governance expertise, access to knowledge and financing. At Make a Cube, they apply a “stage-gate” roadmap for incubation. First they select ideas and ventures based on their overall quality, degree of eco and social innovation and consistency with market and environment conditions. Then they assess the motivation of future entrepreneurs, their capabilities and relationship network. Building or revising the business plan to assess financial and operational viability is the next step in the process. Finally, the Make a Cube team works closely with the entrepreneur on the key challenges to make the start up successful.
LUISS EnLabs wants to offer to the students of all universities a real opportunity in the job market. They want also to contribute in the promotion of a new international entrepreneurial culture. LUISS ENLABS is the hub that will connect the stakeholders of the startup ecosystem, from academia to university to corporate and enablers. The benchmark in the value chain that leads to entrepreneurship in Italy.
As co-working they offer a 1500 sqm location, situated in the centre of Rome (Termini railway station) in a dynamic environment, in close contact with other startups. It is an ideal location for the development and growth of great ideas.
As talent garden, it has a specific policy to focus just on professionals working on the communication sector.
Born in Bologna, this co-working space was born with the clear intent to give a common house to creative and cultural industries in the city. It is a co-working space but also a business incubator so it offers not just common spaces but also services and business and financing opportunities.
An Italian new model
Casa Netural is a space for socialization and collaboration, where professionals can be matched to create new projects, expand their network and have social impact. A co-working and co-living space, where entrepreneurship (the ability to take risks) and creativity (the ability to explore what is new) are at the core of each project. The house is a place where locals and foreign guests meet and think about how to redesign life and the area.
Casa Netural will be used every day as the co-working space at stated hours. Besides giving the possibility to work together and meeting friends Casa Netural is also a place where to live for short periods of time!
In fact, it will host twice a month for a week people with a profile that may be interesting for the community in the measure in which it gives inspiration and occasion to discuss about common matters and create new collaborations or networks.
All year around we will stimulate the organization of conferences, debates, movie nights and cultural events that may represent an added value for every inhabitant of the house and also be an incentive to the surrounding area.
In the model of a “start-up community” co-working spaces can be considered as the most fertile “arena” where young entrepreneurs can meet, share, work and develop their business ideas, whatever the field.
These “houses”, as well as incubators, are strong elements of the “start-up revolution” happening all over the world and in Europe, during the last years.
Of course not all is absolutely golden in these realities, it is not enough to share a desk with someone to really exploit the value of such an experience. In fact, co-working can be really useful for the community only if they are full and based on the idea that people in it have to share their experiences, their knowledge and skills, building a new business model made of crowd-sourcing models.
Co-working can work if they become spaces where to find the missing element to complete a team, an idea, a business.