There are a wide and diverse range of EU-funded programmes aimed at funding innovative pilot actions at a regional level, and these pilot projects relate to culture in its broadest term including arts, community, heritage, sports, entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship, education and learning. In comparison to other countries Ireland draws down a significantly lower percentage of EU Cultural and Social Innovation Funding yet when it does apply it has a significant success rate (Source E.U. Cultural Contact Point at The Arts Council).

The EU Application process is rigorous and time consuming involving multiple partners across Europe on each application and a 50% success rate in applications would be high. As much as 30% of the required funding must be given by the main partner in an application. Local Authorities are often a preferred partner due to their administrative strength and as they can contribute large proportions of the funding through the allocation of administrative staff hours.

Taking a strategic approach, the EU Lab provides a creative space for experimentation, new partnership development and modelling new ways of working with the people of Dublin, through the co-creation and co-development of City-led projects. Through increasing the resources available to cultural expression, the EU Lab develops Dublin City Council staff projects in the areas of economic development, social inclusion, tourism and the environment, with culture at the helm.

The main objectives for this Project and project team are:

  • To create a strategic approach to EU-funding applications and Intercultural-Cities funding streams from the Council of Europe and related to Agenda 21, focusing on key Council projects to build relationships with local organisations, international partners and delivery agents for EU-projects, including artistic/cultural organisations/individuals, private-sector companies, philanthropic organisations, social organisations, community groups and public-sector bodies, transnational partners; other municipalities and other experienced EU-partner organisations.
  • To work with key project managers within Dublin City Council, and other relevant stakeholders, to build a track record of successful projects.
  • To increase the number of successful EU-funding applications within Dublin City.

The aims of the project team are:

  • To be experimental & flexible
  • To explore Ideas with relevant stakeholders
  • Have some quick wins
  • Long term profile


Innovate Dublin (ID) facilitates the development of the EU Lab on behalf of Dublin’s Culture Connects and Dublin City Council. ID co-creates and co-develops social innovation solutions to meet unmet needs in Dublin communities through an engaged design thinking approach. It is this approach that ID employs in the development of Dublin’s Culture Connects : EU Lab.


The diagram above illustrates the programmes, projects and associated benefits created by the EU Lab, six months into its formation. Each of the projects designed, and being designed, are formed on the basis of partnership; developed with DCC staff, local and national organisations and international partners. Through each project the network of relationships is being built with local government, non-profits, business and statutory bodies, all of whom are working to achieve a common purpose between their projects. Note the projects are not directly connected, however, the outcomes of each project will formulate partnership, leading to training and capacity, peer learning and participation for DCC staff and the engaged citizens of Dublin. However, this can only be achieved through co-creation and co-development via an engaged design thinking approach with potential partners in the outset of the journey. Innovate Dublin embeds this approach in all of its projects, hence believes it to be an appropriate model for developing the EU Lab.



The EU Lab has an integral role in bringing the Cultural Strategy 2016-2021 and its priorities to operation fruition, via:

Culture & Creativity

Working across DCC departments, ID provides a demonstration as to how culture and creativity, via co-creation and co-development can be progressed on an EU funding platform – building staff participation, tacit knowledge of staff through training and capacity building, peer learning on an international platform and new partnerships and relations.

Participation & Practice

ID fosters shared learning through building on DCC’s existing strategic partnerships, and via the creation of new partnerships and strategic partnerships locally, nationally and internationally through the EU Lab.

Social, Economic & Tourism – Actions

Through its partnerships formed ID will yield increased funding to support the co-creation and co-development of economic, social, tourism, and environmental actions within the cultural realm.