The rise of the digital era has brought novel immersive, accessible, and personalized user experiences to media, thereby disrupting traditional media. Today, media form a complex ecosystem of users and producers, audiences and performers with interchangeable roles where traditional boundaries of media are blurring. In this process, media has also become a key element in societal discourses. The challenge for the traditional media sectors is to compete in this extended ecosystem and to meet user expectations by rapidly embracing new technologies for creation, management, and distribution of content. The rise of digital also means that creative minds in culture including artists have an influential role in shaping the development or the use of technologies for media, as they are often being the first to embrace technological innovation in their work. Hence, another challenge for the media industry is to embrace these new viewpoints and actors.
- to facilitate the integration of emerging technologies such as 5G, Cloud, the Internet of Things, Virtual/Augmented Reality, smart objects, wearables, data analytics, artificial intelligence, etc. in next generation media that overcome traditional boundaries and sectors;
- to help the new media ecosystem become more adaptive and inclusive, and better promote content, e.g. with new online strategies and business models or new forms of content creation/distribution/presentation;
- to support synergies across media, operators, technologists and cultural/artistic actors, in order to develop a network of stakeholders which, building on the existing STARTS (Science+ Technology+ ARTS) network, will explore innovative paths for the next generation of media.
Proposals are invited against at least one of the following three subtopics:
a) Innovation Action (IA)
i. Business Innovation Ecosystems
Develop new business innovation ecosystems by using approaches, such as a sandbox, for technology-driven innovation in media, e.g. for new business models, through at least two incubators (project component), financed through the action and hosted in existing operational environments. These incubators have to be interlinked and should foster technology-driven innovation for open and interoperable media with a particular focus on SMEs and start-ups. The incubators shall also exploit synergies with non-media sectors. Each incubator will, through the project financing, host third party projects selected by open calls, provide access to relevant infrastructures and services as well as internal support. The action shall carry out two open calls, attracting submissions from at least from five different European regions (the first shall be entirely defined in the proposal; the second shall include the lessons learned from the first one). Typically, each third-party project will last from 5 to 12 months with a size from EUR 50.000 to 350.000. Actions should provide specific, mentoring and coaching to third party projects, connect high-performers to the venture capital market through dedicated tasks, and cooperate with actions of the subtopic ii through a specific task).
At least 70% of the requested EU contribution shall be allocated to financial support for these third-party projects. Financial support to third parties should be in line with the conditions set out in Part K of the General Annexes. Criteria used to evaluate proposals should be clearly specified.
ii. New User Driven and Enriched Experiences in Future Media
Contribute to the creation of a user driven, fair, sustainable and technologically advanced media ecosystem by the development, demonstration and validation of new services and solutions through large scale demonstrators, pilots or close-to-market prototypes focused on one or more of the following themes:
- Exploiting solutions for platforms enabling all-Internet Protocol content value chain and new business opportunities based on cross-media and cross-sectorial data analytics; for content distribution solutions that facilitate the availability of European content online, also tackling cross-border content restriction issues.
- User driven, immersive and accessible media services;
- Transmedia and cross media experiences and services;
- Immersive and interactive experiences in publishing;
- Agile media rights management and content identification solutions to improve online content distribution.
Subtopic ii. will cooperate and work closely with subtopic i. and vice-versa versa through a specific task.
b) Coordination and Support Action (CSA)
Starts – Technology and Arts Alliance as Driver for Next Generation Media
This subtopic will ensure a networked approach to next generation media that thrives from synergies of cultural, media and technology actors. The main activity is to create a network of actors from across Europe and if appropriate international partners (media industry, innovation hubs, technology and cultural/art institutions, civil society) to foster synergies between art, media and technology in order to create new uses and forms of media and employ media as a social catalyst; in the spirit of digital innovation hubs develop a strategy how to promote local art-technology centers and artist residencies that bring together these actors.
Additionally, this subtopic will support activities to organise the next annual European STARTS prizes that unites technology, arts and media. The support action will ensure publicizing the prize, handling of submission and evaluation in a scalable manner, and the award ceremony. There will be two annual prizes (EUR 20.000 each) covering different aspects of STARTS: one on artistic exploration where appropriation by the Arts has altered (the use, deployment, or perception of) technology and one on collaboration of ICT and the Arts (technological or artistic) that open new pathways for innovation and/or society in particular in context of regional development. Organize itinerant exhibitions and performances the will stimulate new alliances between art, technology and media and help promote novel role of media in societal context.
This action allows for the provision of financial support to third parties in the form of prize in line with the conditions set out in Part K of the General Annexes.
The Commission considers that proposals with an overall duration of 30 to 36 months and requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 5.5 million for sub-topic a)i., EUR 5 million for sub-topic a)ii. and EUR 2 million for subtopic b) would allow this specific challenge to be appropriately addressed. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. At least one proposal for subtopics a)i. and b), and two proposals for subtopic a)ii. will be selected.
Concrete development towards a user-driven and user-centric media value chain triggered by an alliance of media producers, media users, technology and cultural players.
- Validated new media services tested in real operational environments.
- Improved users’ experiences and new solutions for access to media content
- Open and interoperable solutions enabling a genuine Digital Single Market for media.
- Improvement of the technological transfer from European technological SMEs to the media value chain.
- An enhanced and enriched media ecosystem.
 In line with Article 23 (7) of the Rules for Participation the amounts referred to in Article 137 of the Financial Regulation may be exceeded when this is necessary to achieve the objectives of the action.
Illustration Photo: Fossil Futures is an art project that traces the entangled histories and practices of museology, cultural heritage, public ownership, and digital reproduction. The artists Nikolai Nelles and Nora Al-Badri are known for using the tools of natural history museums, as well as leaked data, artificial intelligence (AI), and 3D scanning, to reimagine fossils and relics in the absence of access to real artefacts. (credits: Nora Al-Badri, Jan Nikolai Nelles / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0))