EU BIDs Network – Berlin

Some of our fellow European BID countries gathered at the Association of the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DHIK) in Berlin, Germany in 22nd February 2019. BIDs in Sweden, Go Southampton, Newcastle BIDs, colleagues from the Netherlands all gathered with the BIDs led by DHIK in Germany.

The purpose of the meeting was to see if and how we collectively move forward in forming the European BIDs Network and to see if there was a growing interested in this.

Back in 2016 when we first launched BIDs Belgium, we had a vision of also further cementing the relations with our fellow European BID countries. Especially having met some of them at the World Towns Leadership Summit in Edinburgh in 2016. We moved forward with talking to our partners in Improvement Districts Scotland and others about this collaboration. Also reaching out to the Chambers of Industry and Commerce in Germany (DHIK). Then realising they had also been working on bringing together various countries that attended this meeting. Especially as that DHIK had also been for a few years hosting the European BIDs Awards.

It was excellent to meet the group and discuss the variety of BIDs models that exist in and around Europe. From the national Governments that support, to the ones like BIDs Belgium and BIDs in Sweden that do not have the compulsory Tax. Going around the table with some of us presenting our models and projects. For us, it was important to convey the different aspects of our Improvement Districts model, that takes a ‘holistic’ approach focussing also on the Social Economy and socio/economic impact. Sharing our projects that also worked in the community collaborative models, that is also inclusive of Health, Education and Civic Society. Also the link we have with being the Belgian lead and working closely with the European Placemaking Network. 

Our presentation was received well and it opened up a few discussions on the integrated system approach. Also, what seemed to come across from the discussions was how BIDs need to stay as BIDs. We debated the narrative of BIDs, as well as the abbreviation of BIDs standing for ‘Business’ Improvement Districts. At BIDs Belgium we have often spoken about the Business being changed to ‘Belgium’ Improvement Districts. As we don’t strictly deal with just businesses. Also, as there are no compulsory Taxes here (nor in Sweden). Our partners in Scotland were in the transition phase of changing BIDs Scotland to Improvement Districts Scotland, under the new leadership there. Conveying also the ‘Community’ aspects and BIDs are about everything from Placemaking to building on the Community. Reflecting very much the direction that BIDs Belgium was built on. Also other BIDs across the UK / London are also working in an innovative way with linking Entrepreneurship, Community and building on the local eco-systems with proven socio-economic impact. 

The conclusion very much being that we see the opportunity of creating a European network for the BIDs to exchange and build on. BIDs Belgium is looking forward to the next gathering. 



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