In 2008, Zaragoza (Spain´s fifth city in population ) held an International Exhibition which put us in the league of major European cities. However, at the end of that year the crisis hit us very hard. The unemployment rate began to grow rapidly. The real estate bubble burst and left the city without resources… In this context, the project Zaragoza Activa (ZAC) was born as a plan to revitalize an old 4.000-square-metre sugar factory.
The project was to improve the old model of public community centre, to create an ecosystem of entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity. Reinforcing the collaborative spirit versus the competitive logic. We also wanted to build a system of smooth transitions, which was horizontal and accessible, where the kid on the block and the entrepreneur could fit. To do this, we created a Library for young people (BJCubit) , an office for unemployed (Zona Empleo) , an entrepreneurs school (Semillero de Ideas), a startup hosting service (Vivero), a P2P coworking through time bank (La Colaboradora) where coworkers exchange time for services among each other, a nomad Lab of knowledge (ThinkZAC our own thinktank), and even a vertical social network (ZAC) with an intense program of training, divulging and newtorking activities. We also operate as a civic lab, working on social innovation and collaborative economy issues.
We began in 2010 and we celebrated our 5 th Anniversary in June 2015. Now we have got 7000 members in ZAC network, we´ve launched and assisted 375 companies, we´ve organized over 1500 activities… and we´ve presented our model in several countries in Latin American.
But most important of all, are those kids on the block, who had lost their future… now they can use Zaragoza Activa. Perhaps they might read a comic in BJCubit, or end up running the next breakthrough company. Along the way he will find a way to fulfill their dreams.
Photo: La Azucarera, Miguel Frago, 2014.