Building policies to support ICT innovation in publishing

Strategies meet experiences at the NEM Summit


One of the key objective of the TISP network is the elaboration of policy recommendations aimed at stimulating policy innovation on common strategic issues identified and agreed by representatives of both the publishing and ICT sector, gathered under the TISP umbrella. The official release of the 1st set of policy recommendations in July has been the first achievement in a path that cannot get apart from keeping a continuous dialogue and confrontation with the stakeholders and with those actors that already can provide practical examples of how the innovation can be boosted in the creative sector and in publishing in particular.

An important occasion to feed this dialogue was the workshop held during the NEM summit in Brussels where the experiences presented portrayed some best practices where a balanced mix of institutional support (and funding), together with a smart involvement of stakeholders, are elaborated and implemented as drivers for innovation. The workshop showed that some key elements of the success of the best practices presented can be clearly put in relation with the TISP policy recommendations; their policy basis and operational approach are coherent with lot of the policy statements elaborated by the consortium like encouraging projects and environments where a full range of stakeholders are involved, stimulating convergence between the book sector and other creative sectors, enhancing e-skills and fund practical collaborative projects.

Enrico Turrin, deputy Director of FEP and Patrice Chazerand of DIGITALEUROPE were responsible of the elaboration of the policy recommendations: recalling the work done, they remarked the importance of the contribution of stakeholders in enriching the recommendations, presenting experiences that could either provide practical examples of implementation or suggest integrations of new actions in light of real life challenges. Overall, the invitation was launched to all stakeholders of both publishing and ICT sector to participate actively  in improving and deepening the content of the advice to policy makers in view of the 2nd and final release of the TISP policy recommendations planned  by the end of 2015.

The first presentation of the workshop was made by Prof. Paola Velardi of La Sapienza University in Rome who illustrated the experience of DigiLab, an interdepartmental research center of the La Sapienza University that gathers 12 departments and more than 120 researchers, from Humanities to ICT faculties, with the mission to promote interdisciplinary research in the area of digital technologies applied to cultural heritage. Digilab is engaged in the wider context of the Cultural Heritage Technology District of Lazio Region (DTC), an initiative sustained by a combination of regional and European funding involving the Lazio Region, the Ministry of University and Research and the Ministry of Economic Development. The DTC rationale is to involve industrial, technology and cultural stakeholders,  in high-tech, cultural and creative programs of R&D conducted by universities and research centers  with a shared strategy and a common research infrastructure. The ultimate goal is to build a stable bridge between research environment  and commercial companies thanks to joint programs. In this context, skills and e-skills certainly play an important role to provide adequate competences to be exploited in R&D&I activities addressed to valorization of cultural heritage. At this regard, Digilab is leading the creation of a Center of Excellence in consortium with other public Universities and research institutes, high education and professional training courses in a comprehensive scheme. By involving industry in education programs and students in public/private innovation activities also through qualified internship and cooperation between universities, the Center of Excellence aims at encouraging exchange of knowledge and best practices between academia and industry and foster practical collaborative initiatives such as joint projects, labs and incubators. An opportunity here for the publishing sector lies in the possibility of create new products and integrate educational content.

Following this Italian case, Frank Salliau, Senior Researcher at iMinds, introduced the approach and tools that iMinds as the Flanders’ digital research center and business incubator implements through multi-disciplinary demand-driven research with both academic and industrial partners. Also in the iMinds experience, an extended  ecosystem of partners, spamming from universities to companies, venture capitalists and policy makers, is a key condition for achieving its mission. Covering six market area, iMinds offers support to the different stages of innovation process, from research idea to market introduction in an open cooperative model where organisations can start cooperating on any stage of the funnel through simple, low threshold application procedures. Focusing on the specific stage of applied research, iMinds can provide a tool, the ICON program, available for all market segments. As demand-driven research, the start is an  ICT-related need detected directly by companies or other stakeholders. It has to be noted that the request is dealt with not only from the technological point of view, but also giving attention to legal, social, economic aspects in coherence with the interdisciplinary approach of the center.

The success factor of this instruments can be found exactly in the combination of a wide array of different partners around a technological issue problem and in the positive impact of interdisciplinary approach.  It is worth also highlighting the support that iMinds provides in bridging research to entrepreneurship; The ICON methodology is also applied in a specific instrument dedicated to media sector, hence including projects that typically have applications in domains such as publishing (in addition to television, radio, magazines and newspaper, games). This instrument called MIX-ICON is built on key features that characterize the ICON program available for other market segments. The success of the ICON formula can be summarized in few numbers related to the implementation of the program: since 2005, 121 projects were completed involving more than 300 partners between  researchers, industry partners of various size and types and government and no profit organisations. For what concerns the creation of new businesses, in 2012 alone 12 companies were created out of 54 projects proposed.

iMinds can portray projects addressed to the publishing sector that were illustrated during the seminar: Publishers of the Future, a four year project funded by IWT the government agency for Innovation by Science and Technology for Flanders in cooperation with Boek.be which focuses on the investigation of new types of e-books and new ways of reading, the e-comic platform e-Strips, born out of a collaboration with two Flemish publishing companies and aimed at developing a digital platform for new and older titles of comics books  and the education game Kweetet.be.

Useful indications for the kind of instruments and policy support that can benefit the publishing industry as a lively segment of the creative industries can come from other sector of the CCIs. David Crombie from the University of Arts of Utrecht presented the case of the games sector with an insight on the specific field of applied games along with a concrete experience of a model of development implemented locally in the Netherlands and the European initiative of JAM TODAY.

David first spoke about  the experience of Dutch Game Garden in the Netherlands, a foundation started in 2008 with a mix of local and EU structural funds with the aim to boost economy sustaining the growth of the games sector, actually supporting 70 enterprises. Dutch Game Garden offers facilities and services, together with a start-up support program, to games’ companies in the Netherlands that are relatively small and focused on applied games.

The focus on applied games is something that also feature JAM TODAY a project funded by the European Commission that establishes series of game jams in EU countries around selected themes. Accompanied by an expert advice for each theme, games resulting from jams are then evaluated for transfer to learning environments. While serious games are becoming more and more popular, sometimes not sufficient attention is given to how to implement them in learning environments and how to ensure there are significant learning outcomes, thus the aim of JAM TODAY to deploy educational games to be used  in different sectors also taking care  of explaining  and designing the context (such as the classroom or curriculum) in which games can be most effectively implemented and used. In this context, there is a wide potential for collaborations between games and publishing, in the development of new instruments for learning, new tools for industry and innovative approach to societal challenges.

JamToday from JamToday on Vimeo.

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