Entrepreneurial Discovery Workshops in Podravje-Maribor, Slovenia

After a hot summer break, we continued our EDP-Workshop tour with a visit to the city of Maribor, the second largest city in Slovenia and capital of the Podravje region with its strong and diverse industrial heritage. Maribor and the Podravje region border two strong partners, the capital region of Ljubljana and the Austrian city of Graz. While the close proximity offers many opportunities and synergies, a significant out-commuting from the region and a brain-drain pose significant challenges to the city. In Maribor, two historic industrial sites provide ideal opportunities for a green and innovative revitalisation in the context of a vibrant city development: Kreativni Park Drava (CPD) and the Mariborska Tekstilna Tovarna (MTT).

The former textile factory Mariborska Tekstilna Tovarna, once the largest of Yugoslavia, covers a total of 28.000 sqm of space, including fast production floors, workspace and former office buildings. It is situated in the Melje industrial district, next to the river Drava and only about 10 minutes from downtown Maribor. The specific setting of the site within a city like Maribor calls for a creative revitalisation of the site. At the same time, the vast industrial heritage is an asset to build on, and any future use should take this up and bring production back to the site. As the workshop discussions revealed, the transformation of the site into a hub for the film industry, including studios, postproduction technologies as well as room for creative tasks would fulfil these criteria perfectly. An alternative opportunity would be a hub for the development of the circular economy, with the available space not only allowing research, development and training activities in this field, but include at least larger scale industrial demonstration projects as well.

The EDP for the Kreativni Park Drava revealed that the path already taken there is very promising and should be developed further and deeper. A part of the former prison turned production facility houses today the Regional Development Agency (RRA) for Podravje – Maribor, providing services for companies and businesses in the region, including office space for rent. Enlraging these facilities, including meeting and exhibition facilities, which should at least partly be open to the general public, too, would support the development of the economy in Maribor and at the same time fill the site with new life. A focus on the interrelated topics of the circular economy, sustainable construction and renewable energies would provide at the same time are green and innovative impulses to the regional economy.

RIS4Danu workshop participants identified innovative, green and inclusive transformational goals for the Kreativni Park Drava as well as for the Mariborska Tekstilna Tovarna. These opportunities have to be discussed in more detail and the elements for a Transformational Roadmap for each site discussed in the workshop need to be supplemented with additional information and inputs, particularly from the relevant business community. Based on this, the owner of both sites, the city of Maribor, will be able to asses the best opportunity for each of these sites.

A short newspaper report (in Slovenian) can be found here.