One of the Portugal’s leading regions in cultural, social and economic development is the North. The Porto historical center was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996. Culture is playing a leading role, Porto and Guimarães were European Capitals of Culture (respectively in 2001 and 2012). “Porto 2001” program included arts, cultural events and urban regeneration activities, and led to big investments in the cultural infrastructures, like the concert hall space, Casa da Música.
Porto with the Fundação Serralves, through its report “Estudo Macroeconómico – Desenvolvimento de um Cluster de Indústrias Criativas no Região do Norte”, published in 2008, describes the necessary basis for sustainable growth of the city of Porto as a creative hub and how to be capable to generate economic, social and cultural prosperity.
The Porto metropolitan area is growing, and has a large young labor force. Porto is the second largest city in Portugal (238,000 inhabitants in the city and 1,760,000 inhabitants in its metropolitan area). With its strong entrepreneurial spirit it offers opportunities for people with new and innovative ideas. In Porto, culture is understood as one of the pillars of society. Culture is considered a social cohesion factor and an incitement to the economy and tourism in the city.
Boosting local creative ecosystem and maximizing its potential is the core challenge for Northern Portugal. While it already had many creative talents in the region, they were not thriving due to the lack of specialized support structures. This resulted in low activity performance for the creative industries and a small development of networks and partnerships. Strategic actions were also needed to facilitate approximation between University and enterprises to better leverage the value from qualified professionals. There has also been a very strong focus on culture as a tool to increase wellbeing, attract start-ups and to diversify and improve the quality of the tourism offer.
The strategy was laid out based on three pillars to develop the region’s creative potential. (1) Capacity-building and creative entrepreneurship: inclusion of creativity in the training and education agenda and promotion of an entrepreneurial culture. (2) Creative business growth: supporting creative businesses through specialized funds, intellectual property advice and clustering and marketing initiatives. (3) Attractiveness of creative places: development of
infrastructural conditions, including support for cultural planning, networks and cultural equipment (Consultancy, 2008).
ADDICT, consider that the design of creative clusters and strategic focus is critical for economic development. The regional development agency and several municipalities have also focused on transitioning their traditional creative industries to much more contemporary business. The agency support the creative businesses, by promoting and internationalizing the region’s main creative players and companies.
The agency is a platform of support for the Internationalization of the creative industries. The awards (Creative Industries National Award/Creative Business Cup) give additional coverage to selected local creative businesses. Raising awareness and spreading information to the creative community is promoted via dedicated events (Portugal Criativo – National Event for the Creative Industries-2010, 2011 and 2012; Creative Hubs – Discussion and Networking Event in 2014; Clube ADDICT).
This preponderance attributed to creative clusters is understood by its agents, since that the creative business clustering also enables the generation of practical and creative exchanges with other companies and achieving economies of scale (Consultancy, 2008).
The focus on the creative approach, the international events, tourism evolution, the internationalization of Porto University with more foreign students and the rise of new startups was able to scale up the Porto area to one of Europe’s most compelling creative regions.


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