Editor's NoteOur post about the Viljandi Creative Incubator drew much interest, including a response from the people behind the incubator. They asked us for the opportunity to present their side of the story, which we are happy to provide. Below is their response, in its entirety and without any modifications.
Guest Post : Viljandi IncubatorFirst of all, what makes our incubator rather unique and also expensive is that as one of the only kind that is fully furnished with high level professional equipment for crafts people working with textiles and/or metal who could not afford such versatile and professional machinery themselves. While we were furnishing the metal and textile workshops we bared in mind the need to optimize manucafturing of craft products (volume, capacity, preserving the quality) as well that it would be possible to produce small series products.
From EU funding less than 20% has gone for equipment for textile and more than 80% for metal workshops.
- Traditional handlooms, computer looms
- Sewing machines with all necessary equipment
- Knitting machines + programs
- Half-industrial stitching machine
- Leather sewing machine
- Felting Machine
- Yarn handling tools
- Tufting machine
- Dyeing chamber, laundry room
- Cast moulding (noble metals, bronze, aluminum up to 5 kg)
- Sheet metal experimental works
- Chemical processes: cleaning, patination, anodization, galvanization, galvanoplastic
- Cutting services (lathe and milling machine)
- CNC machine
As we are still in the phase of setting up the incubation environment (metal workshop will have official opening in April, small scale work is already going on) there has not been a capacity so far to be more engaged in bigger scale projects. However, we are actively engaged now in tuning up the machinery and system, client contacts etc.
Second goal for near future is to become a development centre in material studies, product development and design in the area of crafts (textile and metal). For this Viljandi has nearly ideal place as here is the competence and know-how of traditional crafts at University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy Department of Estonian Native Crafts (unique curricula in Estonia) which holds high level professional knowledge and skills in the area of crafts and design and has a wide contact base all over Estonia as well abroad. In cooperation with the academy incubator has been in involved in two big (covering all Estonia) development project where craft is used to integrate people back to employment market and educate craft’s people with needed knowledge and skills for entrepreneurship.
Through the two-year residency or virtual program we help crafts people to plan and implement their idea. Services include:
- Workspaces (textile and metal)
- Access to general office supplies and equipment
- Collaborative meeting rooms
- Education and workshops
- Mentorship and startup consulting
- Operational guidance and resources
- Connections with like-minded creative professionals
At the moment we have three craft entrepreneurs (all together there is space for seven) in textile incubator, two virtual incubated companies in crafts and more than 30 project incubated people/companies: those who have used/rented our professional equipment to produce material for their products or sub-contracted from resided incubated companies. As said before, metal incubator is now in the last phase of installation.
In the area of creative industries it is more and more important that people could do well and live off from their (life style) enterprises that act on local level. Thus, keeping life and active entrepreneurship also in regions that are outside of the capital area. We believe in acting local, yet thinking global. However, when it comes to export and bigger volumes of production, we believe that this is more suitable for the future incubate companies and entrepreneurs who will act in metal work area. For textile entrepreneurs we see the possibility in quality textile design products as well selling the craft’s know –how. Inherited techniques and knowledge in combination of innovative technologies is rather unique and very valued know-how in nowadays design area. Crafts is a niche production and our aim is never to compete with big producers. Energy and environmental crises (also caused by massive textile and cotton production) in contemporary world shows rather strongly that future needs another model and one of the possibilities is living on the basis of local communities being self-sufficient. This is also a direction that we support and believe in.
To sum up, we would like to repeat our invitation to come and see what we really do here! The best near future option is on May 16 where there is a big Ethno Fashion Show called “Own Fashion” which is the opening of a 3-day international conference “Traditional Knitted Sweaters around the Baltic Sea” May 16th -18th, 2013 organized in cooperation with UT Viljandi Culture academy and Tartu Art School. So, welcome to Viljandi!