The “Pearl of the South”, Valdivia is a small university town in southern Chile, surrounded by rivers and forests.
Valdivia lies around 200 kilometres from the snows of the Andes and 15 kilometres from the Pacific Ocean, amidst a dramatic natural environment. Both the landscapes and the weather are very similar to Lake District in the UK, with beautiful lakes surrounded by native forests. The town has also become a prime location for the development of creative and innovative ventures.
"The existence of one of the most important film festivals in South America – the annual Valdivia International Film Festival – and a programme of cultural events along the river each summer, the city has fostered a growing interest in creative entrepreneurship, along with tourism and service sectors."
Culturally, the town has both a Spanish colonial past, and was the entry point for many German immigrants in the second half of the 19th century, recognisable in its many wooden buildings. The existence of one of the most important film festivals in South America – the annual Valdivia International Film Festival – and a programme of cultural events along the river each summer, the city has fostered a growing interest in creative entrepreneurship, along with tourism and service sectors. In the absence of large companies, the development of small-scale businesses is one of the main economic development strategies in the city. Because of its size, the urban business ecosystem can be more organic and flexible – business meetings can take place in squares, cafes and promenades, creating interesting networks and collaboration projects at a human scale.
That creativity works both ways – an active nightlife and interesting cultural events help to shape an environment conducive to the development of a creative bohemia, which, in turn, helps to generate a positive business culture.
It’s within this environment that I lead development and consultancy projects in the creative industries, carried out by local universities and funded by public agencies. These projects have sought to improve both knowledge and skills in management and innovation of our entrepreneurs, promoting a creative and innovative business culture. Our work has become a sort of model and mandatory reference for other cities in Chile.
Guillermo Olivares holds an MA in Cultural and Creative Industries from King’s College London. He has worked for the Valdivia International Film Festival and researched cultural and creative entrepreneurship and management models in creative industries. He is now a business consultant in the creative industries.