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Support to STARTS Community and Lighthouse Projects through the creation of an ecosystem for hybrid talent

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - STARTS Ecosystem (Support to STARTS Community and Lighthouse Projects through the creation of an ecosystem for hybrid talent)

Reporting period: 2019-04-01 to 2020-07-31

The S+T+ARTS initiative –innovation at the nexus of Science, Technology, and the ARTS - is Europe’s answer to a growing need for social and ecological innovation rooted in digital progress. S+T+ARTS encourages collaborations of artists and creatives with science and technology institutes and companies as a means to foster the development of human-oriented technologies.

STARTS ECOSYSTEM is driven by the following objectives:
To foster a ‘STARTS ecosystem’, by promoting networking and collaboration between artists and European/international innovation projects and opening the resulting connected space to creators and technologists from across Europe, using both online open platforms and onsite activities and events;

Support the activities of the two new STARTS Lighthouse projects, in particular by engaging artists and creatives in their activities, building on good practices for collaborative, inter/trans/multidisciplinary development from the previous STARTS call projects (STARTS Residencies/VERTIGO, WEAR Sustain and STARTS Prize) and from other initiatives in related fields, including those stemming directly from industry (Daimler-Benz, Telefónica, Hyundai, amongst others);

Support other ongoing projects in the STARTS area, such as STARTS Residencies/VERTIGO (by setting up a service to follow-up implementation of artistic residencies and disseminate their results) and promote outcomes from WEAR Sustain prototypes and services, and STARTS Prize winners, through exhibitions and STARTS Talks in high visibility events and sites (including at BOZAR, Ars Electronica, Avignon Festival and in corporations), communication campaigns and other media-related actions;

Assist artists and creators (including, but not limited to those involved in Lighthouse projects, START residencies and WEAR Sustain prototypes) in developing exploitation strategies for their innovative outcomes, through dedicated acceleration events with support from specialised innovation consultants, and with links with the financial community (Venture Capitalists, Business Angels, Corporations…) that can scale-up their results;

Support the communication activities of the STARTS area of the European Commission, through the management of its main outreach channels (starts.eu and social media) and a mix of targeted and high-level communication activities, including actions towards European (e.g. European Parliament), National and Regional Policy-makers, and through organisation of targeted events, including the continuation of the STARTS Prize in 2021.

STARTS ECOSYSTEM strives to widen the STARTS network by gathering artists, engineers, researchers, as well as pertinent institutions from culture and technology to foster hybrid collaborations. Through targeted services - secretariat, common collaboration methodologies, single-entry point for S+T+ARTS (digital) media presence, - organizing online and on-site events, mentoring of S+T+ARTS collaborating between artists and engineers, teams, toolkit on art-science-tech collaborations - the consortium strengthens a dynamic innovative community that pushes the boundaries of art, research and technology.
In accordance to the Grant Agreement, all work packages have initiated their work, focusing primarily on the relaunch of starts.eu with additional technical functionalities to foster a friendly use of the platform and a greater sense of community for the STARTS stakeholders, as well as the review of editorial lines to make starts.eu the single-entry point for all Science + Tech + Arts collaborations.

To strengthen the STARTS ECOSYSTEM, close links have been established with other STARTS funded projects, namely WEAR SUSTAIN, VERTIGO /STARTS RESIDENCIES, STARTS PRIZE, RE-FREAM, MIND SPACES, and more recently three new DIGITAL INNOVATION HUBS: MEDIA FUTURES, VOJEXT and BETTER FACTORY. STARTS ECOSYSTEM supports these projects in terms of communication, methodology for open calls, legal considerations and dissemination strategy, through dedicated services.

Away from these, extensive work has been done to bring in the ecosystem other STARTS related projects and entities. Thanks to targeted engagement strategies using different platforms such as social media, newsletter, and targeted mailing invitations, as well as different categories of events organised online (WESTART meetups, STARTS talks and pop-ups) and on-site (exhibitions, booths at major international events), we have managed to create spaces where artists, technologists, researchers, industry and supporters have the opportunity to exchange and collaborate actively.

Sustained by a solid communication campaign, which has been intensified since January 2020, the promotion of STARTS works and results have produced significant impact on the network behaviour, both at quantity (increased number of followers in all social media, and more users in starts.eu) and quality level (more comments, tags, positive feedback, articles in the blog, invitations to present STARTS at events).

The STARTS ECOSYSTEM partners have worked in elaborating a toolkit on STARTS collaborative practices, launched in July 2020, considered as a critical tool for supporting a systemic participatory approach integrating art, research and innovation processes.

During this first period, innovation services have also been developed, namely through the launch of the first edition of STARTS in MOTION, a programme that aims at bringing STARTS teams to the next level and closer to the market. Through (online) group sessions on key topics such as business model, storytelling, marketing or pricing, and individual mentoring, we accompany 8 teams willing at developing further their STARTS project.
Through STARTS ECOSYSTEM we aim at achieving impact at several levels:
+ Develop an enduring European collaborative framework between industry, artists, creators and technologists that ultimately will increase the availability of innovative solutions in the market to better meet human needs
+ Accelerate the spread and market readiness of art-inspired solutions to industrial/societal challenges and of novel products, processes and services that will be developed under the Lighthouses projects and other STARTS initiatives
+ Build on and consolidate a Pan-European network of stakeholders developed in current STARTS & pre-STARTS EU projects and stimulate deep and interdisciplinary co-creation and international partnerships both within the network, and between the network and outside actors (including those outside EU, where the interest on STARTS is rising)
+ Leverage public and political awareness on the impact of the arts to innovation.