From December 2012 to December 2015 we are partners on an EU Regions of Knowledge project called SMARTculture. At the heart of this project is connection and activation of business clusters, cultural institutions and academia with digital, across a network of European regions. We represent the West Midlands region in the UK and this project ties in with our Digital Heritage Demonstrator Project currently in process.

The project involves 13 partners from across the EU representing 7 different regions. In the UK the project is led by Gino Bellavia in the Heritage hub/do.collaboration, with input from Dr Lisa De Propris in Birmingham Business School who will use her experience on benchmarking methodologies for creative industries.

In the West Midlands region, the Birmingham based team will work with local media businesses, cultural organisations and governmental stakeholders to input into the activity. The overriding objective of the project is to develop a joint action plan for this type of activity across Europe and for regions to learn from each other.

The project is funded by the European Union under the 7th Framework Programme (Regions of knowledge initiative, Capacities programme) and started 1 December 2012 for a period of 3 years. It will analyse, stimulate and promote pioneering and engaging digital experiences, transforming passive audiences of cultural heritage into active practitioners of culture.

The increasing demand from cultural heritage organizations for innovative digital applications generates unique opportunities for cultural and creative companies. Cultural institutions already use state-of-the-art digital media technology to change the way audiences engage with heritage objects and experiences, such as surface computing, 3D interactivity and on-demand printing of 2-D and 3-D images of collections. It is undeniable that digital technologies are transforming the way the cultural heritage sector operates and interacts with its public. The digitization process in the cultural sector will create new markets and new audiences worldwide, widening the promotional, educational and commercial opportunities for museums, libraries and archive organizations.

Over the next three years SmartCulture will stimulate the collaboration between ICT enterprises, creative and cultural organizations and research institutes across Europe, building a new network of organizations, which are specialized in the application of digital media to cultural heritage. These organizations will explore new opportunities and innovative ways of interactively connecting a broad audience to creative content. Identifying, analysing and promoting key technological research and innovation in relation to the cultural sector will empower cultural organizations, such as museums and libraries, to innovate.

EuraTechnologies (France) – Lead Partner; Asociación Madrid Plataforma Audiovisual (Spain); Asociacion Cluster del Sector Audiovisual de Euskadi-Euskadiko ikustentzunezko Klusterra (Spain); University of Birmingham (United Kingdom); Comune di Siena (Italy); Libera Universita di Lingue e Comunicazione IULM (Italy); Sofia Development Association (Bulgaria); Sofiiski Universitet Sveti Kliment Ohridski (Bulgaria); Aarhus Universitet (Denmark); Meaning Making Experience (Denmark); Region Midtjylland (Denmark); Gemeente Eindhoven (The Netherlands); Capital D - Design Coöperatie Brainport U.A. (The Netherlands).