The core theme addressed in this study is the regeneration of cultural historic sites through the engagement of younger generations for the spur of cultural and creative start-ups. Cultural heritage is regarded by scholars and policy-makers as a driver of development, especially for historic cities. However, entrepreneurship in the cultural and creative sector is an emerging but still not enough explored field of research. Hence, we carried out an exploratory analysis of a selected case relative to the city of Urbino, included in the UNESCO List of World heritage since 1998, in order to gain a better understanding of these new phenomena. We applied a single case study analysis, relative to a specific project “the DATA” -launched by the local administration in 2016 and currently on going - embedded in the UNESCO site management plan, aimed at regenerating the local cultural, social and economic fabric. The case allows us to scrutinise and discuss this issue both from a theoretical and practical point of view. To this end, we took advantage of an abductive approach aimed to the generation of new concepts and the development of theoretical models. On the basis of the evidences emerged from exploratory interviews and data gathered from secondary sources, we detected a set of themes useful for refining the literature review, namely: i) participatory management and regeneration of the urban cultural heritage as a lever for economic development; ii) the virtuous circle of relationships and exchange of knowledge within the cultural ecosystem; iii) the combination of local past knowledge with new skills and expertise as a source of renewal of the local economic fabric. The main finding of our research is thus a framework of analysis to be tested and discussed with the different stakeholders involved in the selected project with an in-depth analysis of the case.
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