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Wearable technologists Engage with Artists for Responsible innovation

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - WEAR (Wearable technologists Engage with Artists for Responsible innovation)

Reporting period: 2018-07-01 to 2019-02-28

In order to promote further collaboration between the arts and innovation activities, WEAR Sustain proposes to focus engagement in within arts and design communities and the ICT industry, through co-design and co-development of ethical, critical, and aesthetic wearable technologies and smart textiles.

Wearable technologies aimed at private consumers constitute a nascent market, expected to grow very fast. This disruptive technology opens up new business possibilities, notably for cross-sector collaborations for example between technology companies and designers. At the core of this market are important issues, of various nature: ethical, aesthetic, environmental, etc. These issues need to be addressed in a critical way.

WEAR Sustain lasted from January 2017 to February 2019, and was able to achieve its objectives:
Objective 1: Set up and develop a sustainable network of local advocacy hubs around ethical and aesthetic wearables, constituted of at least 40 relevant hubs across Europe
Objective 2: Encourage cross-border and cross-sector collaboration between creative people and technologists. Through 2 open thematic calls for European project proposals to develop fully functional prototypes of wearables, WEAR will fund up to 48 teams
Objective 3: Build a sustainable and structured dialogue. It will rely on the digital platform and on the organisation of local and international networking events/symposia and local meetups
Objective 4: Develop local hubs to become advocacy centres for wearable technologies with a mandate for aesthetic and ethical design and development processes. Local hubs will provide to awarded teams support and access to expertise
Objective 5: Develop a sustainability strategy and toolkit aimed at local hubs
WEAR Sustain's activities have revolved mainly around (i) the organisation of 2 Open Calls, the selection, monitoring and support of the selected teams; (ii) the set-up and the expansion of the WEAR Sustain Network Platform, including the Sustainability Strategy Toolkit. Thus doing, it has achieved its 5 objectives.

Objective 1: Thanks to the mapping activities and the events organized in relation to our Open Calls, we have been able to involve a number of hubs across Europe. There were in February 2019 84 active WEAR hubs registered in our network, of which 54 actually provided additionally services to our selected teams. These are only part of the organisations and individuals involved in the WEAR Sustain Network.
Objective 2: WEAR Sustain has funded 46 teams. Every team relies on a cross-sector collaboration between at least one artist or designer and one technologist. Cross-border collaboration is also a must for every team. For seven teams, it is at the core of the team, besides it was asked to every team to use services of a mentor or a hub based abroad (at least 30% of the voucher budget). Finally gender is taken into account in the selection process (team composition and in some cases project purpose).
Objective 3: For its two Open Calls, WEAR Sustain has organized or co-organised 11 main events in 11 different countries. Most attracted participants from other countries than the country of the organiser.
Objective 4: During the project and its 2 Open Calls, 32 hubs were home hubs for teams selected after Open Call 1. One should add to that main mentors (individuals) and other service providers who provided a more limited, specialised service (e.g. legal advice, access to 3D printing equipment). There were more than 120 service providers involved in the support towards teams (not including those who offered services but whose offer did not match the teams’ demand).
Objective 5: WEAR Sustain has provided the first version of Sustainability Strategy toolkit, which can be continued to be developed after the end of the project. It provides a guide to the ​WEAR Sustain Knowledge Platform, which ​consists​ of four main functionalities built during the ​WEAR sustain project: (i) the Knowledge Base (a growing, comprehensive repository of actively shared industry insights, resources, tools and methodologies); (ii) the Directory (an accurate map and ecosystem of ethical pioneers and changemakers in wearable technologies and smart textiles across the globe); (iii) the in-development Self-Assessment Tool; and featured Best Practice Projects based on the WEAR Sustain selected teams. It supports in particular hubs for ongoing advocacy and innovation support.

In spite of very limited financial means, we were able to have a large dissemination, thanks to the organisation of 11 events, participation in more than 40 events, social media reaching hundreds of followers (900+ for Facebook, 1300+ for Twitter), and 530,000+ visits to our website.
WEAR Sustain has gone beyond the state of the arts for several aspects. First, it has aimed at promoting a balanced collaboration between participants from, on the one hand, the technology side, and, on the other hand, the art side. This is the most visible with the 46 teams selected and supported by the project, each of them relying on such a collaboration.

Second, the set-up of WEAR Sustain’s Network platform has also responded to the ICT-ART CNECT study recommendation of creating an umbrella meta-project to promote smaller projects. There are many hubs across Europe who support small similar projects, but until then no initiative had succeeded in mapping and coordinating them.

Third, it has raised awareness around ethical issues related to wearable technology collecting personal data, in particular via WEAR Sustain's Knowledge platform. Beyond, it has dealt with working conditions in wearable industries. And most importantly it has put environmental sustainability as a core issue.

The expected results until the end of the project can be summarised in two main outcomes. First, a major objective has been to select and support 46 teams to develop prototypes of wearable technologies, and bring them closer to the market.

The second outcome is the WEAR Sustain platform. As a Network platform, it maps various stakeholders working on wearables in Europe. As Sustainability Strategy Toolkit, it provides access to resources on ethics and sustainablity.

Our first impact has been to trigger the dialogue between creative people and technologists, by organising 11 exchange events; by setting up and continuously improving its online Network platform and, at micro-level, through its 46 selected and supported teams.

Our second impact is in increasing the transfer of knowledge, in our 10 matchmaking events, in our 2 final events and via the activities of our network of hubs (including in the associated events).

Our third impact is in contributing to a change of culture, notably through our 46 selected teams. Our selection and monitoring criteria actually include the innovation potential, the balanced collaboration, ethical and sustainability concerns, and the economic value of the project.

Our fourth impact is helping the development of an emerging market, namely wearables in Europe, while keeping a constant, critical attention for ethical and sustainability issues. Focusing on the wearable market has allowed to leverage the competitiveness of SMEs.
Presentation by Stavri Nikolov (DSLL) at WEAR Sustain Open Call 2 event
Open Call 1 teams during Team Introduction Day
Presentation by Heritiana Ranaivoson (imec) during Open Call 1 Team Introduction Day