Dunfermline 2013

testtown-dunfermline-2013-participants-alan-morrison

Three Years On

TestTown piloted in Dunfermline in 2013, after two years of planning and development. The project was run by the Carnegie UK Trust working with Fife Council and local BID Dunfermline Delivers as local hosts, and set a challenge for 16-30 year olds to come up with innovative business uses for town centre spaces. Three years on we are able to reflect and see what effect hosting TestTown had on Dunfermline. Out of the eight vacant units used by the Testtown finalists, six are now occupied by independent businesses. Encouraged by the success of TestTown, the town set up their own local ‘TestTown’ style event titled ‘Venture Street’ in 2014 funded and supported by Carnegie Dunfermline Trust. Eight businesses plus a unit run by school pupils breathed new life into vacant properties in the Bruce Street area for six weeks leading up to Christmas, and graduates from that programme have gone on to set up businesses.

“Eight businesses plus a unit run by school pupils breathed new life into vacant properties in the Bruce Street area for six weeks leading up to Christmas, and graduates from that programme have gone on to set up businesses.”

The local authority, business improvement district and other local agencies have all developed enterprise support strategies to back more businesses locally. This first TestTown project taught us the importance of building a strong local coalition, across sectors, to maximise the impact of the activity.

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Words of Advice

  • I would advertise the event on local radio stations and also in the local newspaper to create local interest in the town to raise awareness of the event. As not everyone who shops in the town uses the internet.’

    TestTown 2015 Participant

  • Have plenty of time to be on hand during trading as working with lots of stakeholders and businesses is very time consuming. It is key to manage the expectations of the participants e.g. they will not all make lots of money during their first day of trade.

    TestTown 2015 Host

  • The animation of the town centre through pop-ups and performances created a wonderful atmosphere for new and returning shoppers.

    TestTown 2015 Host

Highlights from the recent years

Five Ways To Supercharge Your TestTown

We believe there are five things which would Supercharge your TestTown:

  1. Every town should create a clear, supported pathway into trading and opening up a shop  for new town centre entrepreneurs.
  2. Every town should have a permanent pop-up facility in a viable trading space which offers flexible lease arrangements up to a year for new town centre entrepreneurs to learn.
  3. Every town should work, within their means, to reduce financial barriers in reduced rates and rents for new traders during their first year of business.
  4. Every town should carry out a regular (every five years) entrepreneur-led consultation which would feed into a business-led strategy for town centre development and business support.
  5. Every town should develop a hyperlocal cross-sector partnership to lead local innovation, ensuring that agencies, businesses, and residents are all powerful in leading local development.