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InduCult 2.0

Industrial Heritage, Cultural Resources of Current Industries and Creative Pioneers

Utilizing Industrial Culture in Central Europe

Project description

In the context of major societal and economic changes, Europe’s industrial societies have transformed into networked information societies that are increasingly based on knowledge-intensive services and creative industries. However, these developments are affecting territories in very different ways. Whilst urban agglomerations are preferred locations of the knowledge economy, merging manufacturing and design processes, smaller towns in rural environments become marginalised. They often continue to have a small industrial base, but they do not equally succeed in attracting the knowledge economy.

InduCult2.0 brings together such regions with a distinct industrial past and present, situated outside major agglomeration areas in Central Europe. All of them have undergone deep transformation processes due to automation, adaptation to globalized production patterns and the opening of markets in the former state-led economies, thereby reflecting the growing economic and social disparities across Central Europe. The long economic predominance of industrial production has brought about a particular cultural setting in the project partners’ territories. It is made up of certain skills, attitudes, traditions as well as tangible monuments and artefacts. However, these regions are usually considered culturally less attractive and they are not utilizing the existing industrial culture to their full development potential.

The concept of Industrial Culture, fundamental to the project, is innovative by itself: So far, industrial culture has been a term used as a synonym for industrial heritage. Only recently, a re-interpretation as Industrial Culture has been heralded, going beyond heritage issues by including contemporary or upcoming cultural and creative resources. Whilst some aspects of this conceptual framework of Industrial Culture are already applied in some places, there is no comprehensive outline available yet. The strategic and scientific outputs of InduCult2.0 will for the first time provide a full overview of the potential of this concept. Pilot actions will prove its practical capability and serve as examples for exchange.

With InduCult2.0, we want to revive the cultural spirit of long-standing industrial regions in Central Europe. Together with local stakeholders, we rediscover and develop the positive elements of industrial communities. Specifically, project partners intend to:

  • promote and establish the idea of Industrial Culture in Central Europe,
  • strengthen the distinct culture of industrial regions and utilise it as location factor,
  • empower industrial regions by re-activating their pioneer spirit.

Researchers from the Institute of Geography and Regional Science at the University of Graz in collaboration with the Leibniz Institute of Regional Geography (Leipzig, Germany), support and reflect these activities. In scientific workshops, the state-of-the-art debate on Industrial Culture will be summarized and processed into research inputs for pilot action development. During a transnational summer school, students will share perspectives on the valorisation of Industrial Culture with regional stakeholders from Central Europe. Furthermore, an interactive mapping tool to visualize Industrial Culture across Central Europe will be developed.

The InduCult2.0 project is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and takes place within the European INTERREG programme Central Europe.

Further Information:

Project Team Uni Graz


Wolfgang Fischer
Mag. Dr.


Judith Pizzera
MMag. Dr.

Jörn Harfst

Danko Simic


December 2017, Danko Simić, University of Graz, 

In June 2016 the INTERREG project InduCult2.0 started with the aim to strengthen the distinct culture of industrial regions, utilize it as a location factor, empower the target regions by re-activating their pioneer spirit and thereby promote and establish the idea of Industrial Culture in Central Europe. The project focuses on small and medium-sized towns, situated outside major agglomeration areas with a distinct industrial past, presence and future. (For general information see www.inducult.eu)

The Department of Geography and Regional Science at the University of Graz is one of two scientific partners within the network of 10 project partners. One of the general tasks include the support of the regional partners by giving thematic input and guidance, as well as organizing and sustaining the transnational knowledge transfer and form the project’s learning network.

The research group around Dr. Fischer prepared two thematic input papers to give general guidance to the regional partners in the work packages T2 and T4 (Table 1). The input papers ‘Industrial Culture and Regional Identity’ (T2) and ‘FOSTERING CREATIVE APPROACHES THROUGH INDUSTRIAL CULTURE’ (T4) highlight manifold and diverse approaches across Europe. The examples focus on specific place-bound tangible and intangible remains of industrial production – trying to link these remains across the timeline of past, present and future. In this way, the cases indeed utilize Industrial Culture - albeit in varying ways - as a reliable and authentic development basis and for an internal reference point of industrial communities.


Table 1 Thematic work packages InduCult2.0

Thematic work package

Main responsible partner


Establishing and promoting the concept of Industrial Culture in Central Europe´s industrial regions

Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography


Priming Industrial Culture as a unique feature of regional identity

Municipality of Leoben


Deploying Industrial Culture for securing labor force and strengthening the regional ties of companies

Padova Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Craft and Agriculture


Fostering creativity and innovation in the environment of industry and its remains

University of Graz


Besides the thematic input papers, a framework paper ‘STRATEGIC POTENTIAL OF INDUSTRIAL CULTURE FOR REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT’ was elaborated in collaboration with the second scientific partner the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography. This paper discusses the potential of Industrial Culture as an instrument for regional development and especially for re-inventing (old) industrial regions. The paper illustrates the changes in the understanding of the term ‘Industrial Culture’ in different contexts in the last decades and highlights the most relevant features for a re-interpretation of the term. Framing the topic, the paper debates theoretical approaches that are connected to Industrial Culture. 

Moreover, the University of Graz takes over internal evaluation of project outputs and advises partners accordingly. All regional partners elaborated ten arguments for Industrial Culture and how they want to use the concept of Industrial Culture in their regions. The eight national argumentation papers were condensed to a transnational argumentation paper for Central Europe: ‘Transnational argumentation paper on industrial culture for regional development’. The clustering of all arguments shows five general transnational arguments on Industrial Culture. 


Industrial Culture is… 

…a unique regional feature and an endogenous creator of identity.

…an image, a location factor and a marketing tool.

…a tool for reviving pioneer spirit, attracting labor force and keeping the young.

…a means to combine tradition and creativity.

…an instrument to shape the economic transition. 


Besides the direct interaction with the regional partners the research group of Dr. Fischer also includes research findings in current courses and lectures such as ‘Cultural Heritage as a Potential for Regional Development and Tourism’ and ‘Integrative Seminar – Industries, Mining and after utilization’ at the Department of Geography and Regional Science, held by Dr. Wolfgang Fischer. Moreover, together with the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography a transnational summer school ‘REINVENTING INDUSTRIAL CULTURE – NEW FUTURES FOR THE PALLA’ was organized in Glauchau, Germany (July 30th until August 6th). Master students and PHD candidates from China, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Sweden and Ukraine were working intensively in this week – together with their group trainers, coaches, local representatives, experts, scientists – to conceptualize ideas for new futures for the Palla, an (old) industrial building in the very heart of the city. In the end four projects for reinventing Industrial Culture were presented to the city council and are being discussed. The report of the summer school ‘LESSONS LEARNED: TAKE HOME MASSAGES FROM THE TRANSNATIONAL SUMMER SCHOOL’ depicts general ideas how to implement similar actions in their regions and helps to set up a framework.

Regularly the findings of the project are also presented and discussed at international conferences and workshops across Europe and published in scientific journals: 

  • Poster presentation at the 5th Moravian Conference on Rural Research EURORAL ’16, Brno, Czech Republic, August 29th – September 2nd, 2016: ‘Industrial Heritage, Cultural Resources of Current Industries and creative pioneers – utilizing industrial culture in central europe’
  • Full paper contribution at the meeting of hexagonal research group, Maribor, Slovenia September 29th – September 30th, 2016: ‘Industrial Heritage, Cultural Resources of Current Industries and creative pioneers – utilizing industrial culture in central europe’ (full paper: http://www.ff.um.si/zalozba-in-knjigarna/ponudba/zbirke-in-revije/revija-za-geografijo/clanki/stevilka-11-2-2016/rg2211-204harfst,pizzera,simis-industrialheritage,culturalresourcesofcurrentindustriesandcreativepioneers.....pdf)
  • Full paper contribution at the 3rd International Scientific Conference GEOBALCANICA 2017, Skopje, Macedonia, May 20th- May 21st, 2017: ‘INDUSTRIAL CULTURE AS AN EMERGING TOPIC IN REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT?’ (full paper: http://geobalcanica.org/wp-content/uploads/GBP/2017/GBP.2017.20.pdf)
  • Full paper contribution at the Contemporary Trends in Tourism and Hospitality, 2017, NEW SPACES IN CULTURAL TOURISM, September 1st – September 2nd, 2017, Novi Sad, Serbia: ‘New opportunities for tourism diversification by utilizing industrial culture – a case study from Graz, Austria’ (full paper: http://www.dgt.uns.ac.rs/ctth/2017/ctth2017cp.pdf)
  • Full paper contribution at the Network Conference of Spa-ce.net, The Role of Public Sector in Local Economic and Territorial Development in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, Sofia, Bulgaria, September 13th –  September 15th, 2017, Sofia, Bulgaria: Fostering development via ‘Industrial Culture’? Networking and development initiatives in (post-) industrial regions of Central Europe 


We are looking forward to…

…the mid-term event (March 21st – March 23rd, 2018, Genk/Brussels Belgium). It will take place in the European parliament with members of the European Parliament, representatives of the national ministries, project partners and the most important local stakeholders. The Department of Geography and Regional Science, University of Graz is included in the practical and content wise organization of the event. 

 …our own session at the REGIONAL STUDIES ASSOCIATION ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2018 with the title: Fostering regional development via ‘Industrial Culture’? Concepts, discourses, utilizations. The conference will take place 3rd- 6th June 2018, Universita della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, Switzerland.

Scientific Workshop

"Conceptualising Industrial Culture"

10-11 October 2016, University of Graz, Austria

In the event researchers from Russia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Poland, Germany and Austria discussed and shared experiences on 'Industrial Culture'. The exchange underlined the different approaches to 'Industrial Culture', but also the shared aspects. It became clear that both tangible and intangible elements of current everyday industrial culture need to be analysed, in order to achieve a more holistic understanding of the term. In analytical terms especially the term 'culture' seems to need a deeper understanding in this context. On the policy level, the question on the role of the state in the revitalisation of non-agglomeration regions could be discussed further.

Both aspects will be further highlighted in the planned publication, which will be the outcome of the workshop. The Department of Geography and Regional Sciences at the University of Graz and the Leibniz-Institute of Regional Geography in Leipzig will lead this publication.

The event was supported by the Regional Studies Association.

Results of the workshop were then presented during the transnational kick-off conference of the InduCult2.0 project, 12-14 Oct 2016 in Leoben, Austria.

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