Call for proposals for EU action grants :

In today’s global innovation race the market and economic growth are the dominant drivers. In this global context, Europe insists to approach technological and digital innovation, from a broader perspective, where social and ecological priorities as well as constructive critical thinking about the impact of technology are considered equally
important. There is now an opportunity to promote such a more human model of innovation worldwide. This call is based on the belief that grounding digital innovation in the cultural and artistic wealth that exists world-wide will help facilitate and promote such a socially inclusive and environmentally friendly (European) way of digital innovation.

The European Commission – DG CONNECT – has already identified artistic experimentation with technologies as a catalyst of art-driven digital innovation in its S+T+ARTS program -innovation at the nexus of Science, Technology, and the ARTS. For technologies like Artificial Intelligence -AI, new digital/social media, smart cities technologies, data science and simulation, blockchain technologies, or biotechnologies, artistic experiments with use cases of these technologies can drive their graceful immersion in economy and society. For example, artists can reflect on
the impact, push limits or help in human-centred uses of these technologies in artistic installations/performances that then feedback on the development and use of these technologies. The ambition of the current action is to start a process at an international level where art-driven innovation is promoted as an alternative joint pathway to the future for economies across different continents and cultures. The action intends to demonstrate how synergies of digital technologies with local arts, culture and traditions across different nations and continents can contribute to developing both novel technologies and novel uses of technology that are ecologically conscious, socially inclusive, and compatible with human values and local culture. This can lead to value-added ranging from agri-food production (issues of food security and scarcity) and water management (oceans, water scarcity) over sustainable fashion (recyclable textiles) and inclusion of cultural heritage in efforts to tackle social ecological and economic
challenges like urban development, facing ecological crisis, or strengthening democratic governance and dialogue.

Given the importance of artificial intelligence, the action will emphasize artificial intelligence, but does not exclude activities in other digitally pertinent technologies relevant in the selected regions. The action will address several sectors pertinent in the selected regions where digital can make a difference. Art-driven innovation in AI might help overcome cultural biases in AI and artistic experimentation with social media might result in narratives and ultimately solutions on social and ecological challenges that are more deeply rooted in local culture.

The ambition of this call is three-fold:

• Highlight concrete projects at the nexus of art, technology and innovation that
bring together artists with engineers in local technology companies or with
other stakeholders in regional development (NGOs, end-users of technology)
to work on concrete challenges in the regions.

• Develop a narrative on innovation rooted in culture worldwide that helps in engaging public and private players in the regions (local startups/SMEs/industry – including big digital players present in the region, art institutions, foundations working in these regions, development agencies, NGOs etc.) into jointly developing activities linked to an art-driven approach to innovation for regional development.

• Foster artistic, scientific, and technological links between Europe and the world.

Objectives :

STARTS residencies – Artistic experimentation with key technologies and their uses :

Launch artistic experimentation with a focus in the selected region that bring together artists with local stakeholders (regional development, technology companies…) to work on concrete challenges (economic-ecological-social). Artistic
experiments chosen should promote the STARTS concept of art-driven innovation rooted in culture in an original and ambitious manner.

STARTS prize – Honouring local pioneers of art-driven innovation :

Launch a prize in the selected region (Africa, South America) that promotes the idea of art-driven innovation by honouring artists that have successfully combined art and
technology to address challenges of regional development (ecological-social-economic).

STARTS Sylloge – a narrative on innovation rooted in local culture :

Create with input from key players in project a corpus of discourses, designs, installations, videos, and performances that unfold and tell the stories of the region’s faith, ethics, science, culture and how all this drives the future of the region. Engage pertinent players in the selected region and from Europe (with the help of this sylloge) in a dialogue how regional development can be embedded in and driven by local arts and culture.

Themes and priorities :

• Tackling of current global challenges (climate change, sustainable development, democratic governance, and others) through new innovative perspectives.
• Use of new innovative technologies (such as artificial intelligence).
• Incorporation of regional perspectives (art, philosophy, science, technology).
• Fostering of links between Europe and the selected region (Africa or South America).

Available budget :

The available call budget is EUR 2.000.000 (two million Euros). The EU co6financing is limited to a maximum co-funding rate of the total eligible costs.

Project budgets : We expect to fund two projects with a maximum grant amount of EUR 1.000.000 (one million Euros) per project. We will fund one project focusing on the region of Africa and one project focusing on South America. We reserve the right not to award all available funds depending on the proposals received and the results of the evaluation. The grant awarded may be lower than the amount requested.

Admissibility and documents :

Proposals must be submitted before the call deadline (15 July 2024).

The mandatory Grant Application Form and other mandatory template documents to be completed are available at https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/news-redirect/822021.