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eHERITAGE Report Summary

Project ID: 692103
Funded under: H2020-EU.4.b.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - eHERITAGE (Expanding the Research and Innovation Capacity in Cultural Heritage Virtual Reality Applications)

Reporting period: 2015-11-01 to 2017-01-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

eHERITAGE (‘Expanding the Research and Innovation Capacity in Cultural Heritage Virtual Reality Applications’) is a Coordination and Support project which addresses the “twinning” challenges described in the topic H2020-TWINN-2015 of the Work programme. eHERITAGE's coordinating institution University Transilvania of Brasov (UTBv) will achieve excellence in the field of virtual heritage by twinning with other 2 research centers, Jožef Stefan Institute (JSI) from Ljubljana, Slovenia, and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna from Pisa, Italy.
Given the high touristic potential of Brasov, UTBv’s initiative fits perfectly in the regional innovation strategy for economic growth and prosperity. eHERITAGE participants will collaborate with local authorities for exploiting and disseminating virtual applications in cultural heritage conservation. The measures foreseen in eHERITAGE project will influence the social, economic and cultural environment at regional level, in a multiplicative way, making room for strategic partnerships with other research institutes or with commercial agents.
The general objective of eHERITAGE project is to increase the capacity, quality and extent of the research staff of Transilvania University of Brasov, by establishing strong and sustainable research cooperation schemes with the partners, based on close scientific and social interaction.
In order to achieve this strategic objective, three major operational goals are set:
- INCREASED SCOPE AND COMPETITIVE RESEARCH - UTBv personnel will specialize in a new research field.
- TRAINING and MOBILITY of researchers - UTBv personnel will be involved in events and short exchanges.
- CONTINUOUS R&I EXTENDING - eHERITAGE will create sustainable strategic partnerships with other centers of excellence.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

In the first 15 months of the project, eHERITAGE consortium managed to target all 3 objectives. Considerable efforts were spent on achieving all the milestones set for this period:
- MS1 - Project website completed and online was built as a key component of the project. The website holds both public and private information, separated by password protected areas.
- MS2 - Quality, ethics and security forms
The project achieved this milestone by completing the correspondent deliverables (D5.3 Quality assurance plan, D5.4 Ethics assurance plan and D5.5 Security assurance plan).
- MS3 - Improved research profile in the first year
The consortium executed a total of 70.85 PM in the timeframe covered by the periodic report. In the first 15 months of the project, UTBv personnel was actively involved in various activities which set the foundation of the transfer of knowledge between the coordinator and the 2 partners, JSI and SSSA. eHERITAGE started with the Kick-off Meeting (KOM), where the initial project strategy was drafted. Immediately after, UTBv has participated to the first exploratory meeting which was held at the premises of SSSA, in Pisa, Italy. Here, UTBv staff had the opportunity to observe several projects implemented by the SSSA team, including a collaboration with the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo. Representatives of the Museum met the eHERITAGE delegates and provided complete information of the work deployed in their facility. After returning home, UTBv made contact with the History Museum of Brasov. This fortunate collaboration resulted from the fact that eHERITAGE project was featured in the local media and in the newspapers of several institutions. Between August-December, 2016, UTBv participated with a VR stand in an exhibition of the History Musem of Brasov.
Another activity which resulted in an increase scope of the UTBv staff is the organization and participation in a summer school on VR technologies in cultural heritage. The 5-th Edition of CreatiVE Summer School in Virtual Environments was organized at Ovidius University of Constanta by CeRVA Lab of the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science, in partnership with the National History and Archaeology Museum of Constanta and with UTBv. Several researchers from abroad, together with a part of UTBv staff and Master students of the Ovidius University met and learned about 3D reconstruction during the first week of September, 2016.
The first Awareness Day of the eHERITAGE held after the eHERITAGE workshop within the IS 2016 conference, at Ljubljana, Slovenia, was another plus brought by the collaboration with JSI team. 6 members from UTBv team participated in 2016 in a short external stage, 3 at SSSA, in Pisa, Italy, and 3 at JSI, Ljubljana, Slovenia. UTBv members have spent in total 90 work days at the premises of our partners, planning activities, actively participating in the knowledge transfer process, using available state-of-the-art infrastructure, gaining experience and new information regarding the digital cultural heritage domain, disseminating results and interacting with other professionals which share their interests.
Up to this moment the project eHERITAGE produced 16 conference/workshop papers and 4 peer-reviewed journal papers. As envisaged at the beginning of the project in the KOM, the publications produced so far are mostly related to research activities already active and currently ongoing at partners' sites, enriched with the contributions of the other consortium partners, and on relevant surveys contributing to summarize the state of the knowledge on cultural heritage related subjects. 2 other papers are at the moment under review at the Journal of Cultural Heritage and at the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies.
Although task “Preparation of research initiatives” started in month 13, UTBv already won a reward national project destined especially for H2020 coordinators. Moreover, eHERITAGE consortium submitt

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

At the beginning of the project, UTBv had only 3 publications related to the subject of digital heritage. After the first 15 months of the project, members of UTBv participated in several conferences and workshops, interacted with local museums for organizing exhibitions and summer schools and even submitted a new H2020 proposal. Even though the project hasn’t even reach half of its period, quantifiable results can already be seen in the research profile of UTBv. eHERITAGE plans to attract large public and to raise awareness on the selected field of study. Romania's cultural heritage is vast and diverse. However, UNESCO’s World Heritage list on Romania includes only 7 cultural properties: the Churches of Moldavia, the Dacian Fortresses of the Orastie Mountains, the Historic Centre of Sighişoara, the Monastery of Horezu, the Villages with Fortified Churches in Transylvania and the Wooden Churches of Maramureş. Aside from these, there are many other cultural and touristic objectives which would greatly benefit from eHERITAGE’s results. From small children to university students, VR equipment and applications present a high attraction degree which in term raises the curiosity and the interest of the users. By creating applications for cultural heritage sites, eHERITAGE contributes to the spread of knowledge in the fields of history and arts, and having a department specialized in these techniques which is based in Romania if the first step in consolidating this research field in the eastern Europe.

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