MAI is not just a physical resource centre but also a knowledge centre and ideas factory.
The MAI is responding to the increasing demands for greater flexibility in working and meeting spaces. More and more international associations are becoming “virtual” and doing without permanent staff and permanent offices. At the same time they need an official headquarters which the MAI provides with its arrangements for international associations to have a registered address here. This is not though always enough – it is necessary to meet at least from time-to-time. There is also the issue of how to start up without having to bear the costs immediately of employing staff and renting offices on a permanent basis. Can sharing office space and other facilities help to reduce costs and increase social capital?
The challenge to the MAI in addition to its traditional offer of permanent office space and conference facilities has been to respond to demands for greater flexibility in patterns of work, and also for both opportunities for participation and interaction and at the same for more private spaces to meet and reflect.
Four spaces for informal interaction, private meetings and study
The Rotunda provides meeting space for tenants, associations sharing the flex office and those with a postal address at the MAI. This is a drop-in centre for relaxation and interaction with colleagues in the building. It can be booked for internal meetings free of charge for associations which already have such links to the MAI. The nearby Small Commission Room is for more private meetings. Both these spaces at the back of the building give out on garden areas.
Two further small rooms at the front of the building will be developed to provide a base for visitors to Brussels who need somewhere to sit and work between meetings.
The flex office – incubator
A number of start-ups are sharing a large office on the third floor of the building – a flat rate of 200 euros per month is charged for the space and sharing of other services such as website development, data bases of contacts in and around the EU Institutions, fundraising and the latest research on European and associative developments. An international association which is starting up has its own desk in an office shared with others and supported by a member of the MAI team. Groups can also work together on projects round the same table.
All these spaces need to be equipped up to the standard of a well-developed and self-sufficient European association. They are being developed as a knowledge centre as much as physical spaces with the help of another member of the MAI team and a partnership agreement with CIRIEC, the International Centre of Research and Information on the Public, Social and Cooperative Economy based at Liège University.