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Art and the Digital: Unleashing Creativity for European Industry, Regions and Society (2019)
Deadline: Oct 2, 2019  

 Smart Cities
 Creative Industries
 Digital Culture
 New Media
 Video Games
 Visual Arts
 Creative Europe
 Video Production
 Digital Society
 Artificial Intelligence

The transformation of society by digital technologies is opening new opportunities for collaboration across disciplines and sectors; in particular, for a committed partnership between digital technology and creativity in the arts. New digital media (like virtual and augmented reality), smart cities technologies, Artificial Intelligence, data science, or 3D printing can team up with artistic practices to transform European cities and regions, culturally, socially, ecologically, and economically.

At the same time, Europe's capacity to compete in the global market depends on its capacity to convert scientific and technological knowledge into innovative products and services. Even more, Europe’s appeal for citizens depends on how cities and regions can create an inspiring environment for their citizens that opens new opportunities for all. The claim is that combining European creativity in the arts with its lead in science and technology can make this happen.

The 2015 Latvian Presidency conclusions on ‘crossovers from culture to businesses' invited the European institutions to consider enhancing collaboration between arts and technology for a holistic exploration of opportunities in the digital age. The Commission - DG Connect - has reacted by launching the S+T+ARTS == STARTS programme - innovation at the nexus of Science, Technology and the ARTS - in their H2020 programme. STARTS is promoting technological, ecological, social and business innovation with the arts as a catalyst for unconventional and critical thinking about technology and its impact and for creative exploration of alternative uses of technology.

This call will solicit proposals that link existing and planned initiatives across Europe that develop synergies between the arts and digital technologies to boost local business and enhance sustainable urban development and social cohesion. The contention of this call is that, in order to enable such cross-overs between technology and creative sectors, it is necessary to support the creation of art-technology centres across European regions and to create a Europe-wide network of like-minded cities/regions.

Such ‘regional STARTS centres’ could become ambassadors across Europe for synergies of technology with art to stimulate innovation. They will serve as catalysts that bring together all players (artists, technology, industry, businesses, creatives from all sectors, policy makers, funders, foundations, regional agencies...), implement programs in the spirit of STARTS and generally promote synergies between art and technology for the sake of technological, social, economic, or ecological innovation.

The objectives of the present call for proposals are two-fold (for details see section 2):

(a) Nurturing a network of pertinent actors in cities and regions willing to create or offer existing local infrastructures (buildings, institutions etc.) or willing to fund collaborations of artists and technologists.

The network will engage a dialogue between public and private actors how to setup, fund, manage, and use existing and emerging local art and technology centres. It will lay out a policy framework in order to support emerging and expanding local STARTS centres.

(b) Funding seed activities in existing or emerging art and technology centres that will help lay the ground to achieve the vision expressed by an art-technology framework for innovation in an urban or regional context.

Legal Basis

Pilot project within the meaning of Article 58(2)(a) of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union, amending Regulations (EU) No 1296/2013, (EU) No 1301/2013, (EU) No 1303/2013, (EU) No 1304/2013, (EU) No 1309/2013, (EU) No 1316/2013, (EU) No 223/2014, (EU) No 283/2014, and Decision No 541/2014/EU and repealing Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 (OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1).

The annual work programme was adopted under Commission Decision C/2019/2233 of April 1st 2019.

The present call for proposals

The present call for proposals will select a consortium to execute the project as outlined above (objectives (a) and (b)) and detailed in section 2.


  •   The consortium should be able to co-fund these activities at 50%. The consortium should also attract third party funding e.g. from public bodies or foundations.

  •   There is an ongoing pilot project with similar goals (ending in July 2020). The selected consortium for the current pilot project shall work closely with the consortium of the ongoing pilot project and make sure to establish links and synergies.

  •   The consortium should comprise partners (local research/technology organisations or art centres, local city councils, foundations, etc.) that are already involved in activities linking art and technology. For details on eligibility of consortia, see section 6.

  •   It will be important to provide convincing information of existing funding sources for such centres on a local level and in the spirit of the STARTS programme.




2.1 Objectives and activities

The pilot project will work on two objectives: (a) Networking and Policy framing:

The pilot project will deliver a clear policy framework for action designed to support links of art and technology that could positively impact urban and regional development.

A main task will be to set up a network of key players (local authorities, foundations, business, art organisations, investors, etc.) willing to promote initiatives for art and technology collaboration as a driver of urban and regional development. The network may start from stakeholders in the participating cities and regions but should foresee measures to extend to other cities/regions.

The network should investigate pathways (including financial) towards the creation of local art-technology centres that put art and technology collaboration in a societal context of urban/regional development. The project will draw up policy recommendations on how crossovers from art to technology and innovation in cities and regions can be best implemented in European Union. It will establish synergies and draw up recommendations on links to regional funding schemes, like structural funds for regions or foundations willing to support such centers and to EU funding schemes like H2020 including the newly created digital innovation hubs.

The project will fund

- Networking events of stakeholders in cities/regions already at the forefront of this movement and those starting activities in this area (local authorities and business, foundations etc.). Digital players should whenever possible be included.

- Mentoring activities (e.g. teaming up with investors, discussing possible support with local foundations, training in EC structural funding activities). Applicants should propose a list of activities that could credibly foster emergence and support of art-technology collaboration on a local level.

- Activities promoting the STARTS label: the project will explore via the network the interest in use of a ‘STARTS label’ and promote adoption of a STARTS label by centres across Europe. This label could form the basis for spreading the ideas of STARTS to a wider set of players and centers across Europe. It will link with funders (foundations, regional agencies or governments.....) on uptake of the STARTS label.

- Links and synergies with related activities in the European Union. The project will investigate links with structural funding and other pertinent activities in partner regions. It will in particular explore synergies of regional STARTS centres with Digital Innovation Hubs that are set up to promote digital skills and digitisation across European regionals and industry, in particular SMEs.


(b) Seed activities:

The pilot project will seed-fund novel ideas for art-technology collaborations. It will fund activities of the following type:

-Support and (ideally) raise/facilitate funding of STARTS residencies, i.e. residencies of artists in businesses/technology institutions or of engineers in artist ateliers that result in concrete outcomes in terms of processes or artefacts and by supporting exploitation of these results on a local level. Existing similar residences programs should be identified and contacted to achieve synergies with the idea of STARTS residencies.

- Raise funds and attract sponsors to create exhibitions and installations that showcase innovation rooted in art-technology collaboration: e.g. artistic explorations of digital technology in context of urban development (for example artistic exploration of local mobility concepts, artist involvement in local business creations). This could lead to a ‘STARTS collection’ that could express the ideas of STARTS in art works that can be shown at exhibitions or events across Europe,

- Team up technology and the arts to make the digital more accessible to citizens in particular the young generation (digital skills and critical thinking) in the spirit of ‘STARTS academies’ that unite engineers and artists in teaching digital skills to citizens or motivate and enable them to appropriate digital technologies (e.g. use of data by and for citizens).

Other activities can be proposed.

2.2 Desired outcomes

Regarding objective (a):

Create an open network of pertinent players in regions and cities interested in art and technology collaboration for local development.

Stimulate creation and funding of urban STARTS centres or reuse existing centres as STARTS centres and ensure their sustainability. Stimulate the uptake of a STARTS label at institutions across Europe.

Work on a European (policy) perspective to solicit and fund local activities that put forward digital technologies and art collaboration to stimulate social cohesion, sustainable development, and local business development by building on local cultural assets.

Regarding objective (b):

Organise co-funded seed activities that show the appeal of art-technology collaboration (including e.g. STARTS academies, STARTS events, STARTS residencies, and STARTS exhibitions in the participating cities). These seed activities should solicit further activities in the participating cities that bring together artists, business and technology to work on local development projects. A ‘STARTS collection’ of art works reflecting the spirit of STARTS is another desirable outcome.


2.3 Methodology

In developing objectives (a) and (b), the following general guidelines apply:

  • -  Strong links with local stakeholders that can drive art-technology activities, both public (e.g. city authorities) and private (e.g. foundations, local business community), and with the pertinent players in the art world should be achieved.

  • -  Synergies with running STARTS H2020 projects should be established. In particular, a strong collaboration with the first pilot project that is running from June 1st, 2019 to July 31st, 2020 will help uniting the two networks.

  • -  The project can use the existing website that is open for new consortia. The project should contribute to its promotion and development with a view to dissemination of STARTS ideas to local stakeholders.

  • -  The long-term goal of establishing local art-technology centres (or dedicated art- technology activities) should drive the overall proposal for activities. The choice of activities in objective (b) should be based on their likely-hood to help stimulate the idea of art and technology collaboration as a driver of local development.

  • -  Use the STARTS label as a means to achieve synergies of similar minded centres across Europe. Use an emerging STARTS collection to showcase ideas of art and technology collaboration across Europe.

    Structure of the application

    To be admissible (see section 5), applicants must follow the structure given in section III.1 of the Grant Application Form.




The indicative schedule for the different steps and stages of the selection procedure are as follows:

(a) Publication of the call

August 2019

(b) Deadline for submitting applications


(c) Evaluation period

Q4 2019

(d) Information to applicants

Q4 2019

(e) Signature of grant agreement

Q1 2020

Scheduled start date for the action: as soon as possible upon signature of grant agreement but no later than 1 March 2020.



The total budget earmarked for the co-financing of the project under this call for proposals is estimated at 1.050.000 EUR (one million and fifty thousand Euros).

The Commission expects to fund 1 proposal.
The Commission reserves the right not to distribute all the funds available.

The financial contribution from the Commission cannot exceed 50% of the total eligible costs. Personnel costs of partners shall not exceed 30% of total eligible costs.

Remark: it will be important that the consortium has access to co-financing capacity and demonstrates willingness of third parties to contribute to the project’s activities financially.



In order to be admissible, applications must be:

  •   sent no later than the deadline for submitting applications referred to in section 3;

  •   submitted in writing (see section 14) and in electronic form (searchable pdf format) using the application form available at

  •   drafted in one of the EU official languages.
    Failure to comply with those requirements will lead to rejection of the application.




6.1. Eligible applicants

The call is open to:
 A grouping of entities (consortia)

Proposals may be submitted by any of the following applicants or combinations of:

  •   non-profit organisation (private or public);

  •   public authorities (national, regional, local);

  •   universities;

  •   educational institutions;

  •   foundations;

  •   research/technology and art centres

  •   profit making entities.

    Natural persons are not eligible to apply for a grant under this call for proposals.

    For British applicants: Please be aware that eligibility criteria must be complied with for the entire duration of the grant. If the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU during the grant period without concluding an agreement with the EU ensuring in particular that British applicants continue to be eligible, you will cease to receive EU funding (while continuing, where possible, to participate) or be required to leave the project on the basis of Article II.17.3 of the grant agreement.

    Affiliated entities

    Entities affiliated1 to the applicants are not eligible to receive funding under this Call for proposals. They may take part in the action as affiliated entities at their own costs only.

    Country of establishment

    Only applications from legal entities established in the following countries are eligible:

 EU Member States.

Consortium requirements

  •   In order to be eligible, a proposal must be submitted by a consortium composed of at least three legal entities from three different Member States.

  •   The consortium must involve at a minimum four regions/cities (via an appropriate representative) with existing activities in art and technology. Presence of institutions in these cities/regions (e.g. foundations or businesses, local public authorities) willing to contribute financially is mandatory. Involvement can be as partners or by associating activities in the four regions with the project.

Supporting documents

In order to assess the applicants' eligibility, the following supporting documents are requested:


private entity: extract from the official journal, copy of articles of association, extract of trade or association register, certificate of liability to VAT (if, as in certain countries, the trade register number and VAT number are identical, only one of these documents is required);

public entity: copy of the resolution, decision or other official document establishing the public-law entity.

Eligible activities

The following types of activities are eligible under this call for proposals:

  •   Events and Exhibition;

  •   Networking activities;

  •   Residencies of artists in technology institutions: fees, travel and daily allowance covering all needs;

  •   Financial support to third parties (see point 11.8. d)).

    Implementation period

    The project's duration must be between 12 months and 15 months.

    Applications for projects scheduled to run for a longer period than that specified in this call for proposals will not be accepted.



7.1. Exclusion

The authorising officer shall exclude an applicant from participating in call for proposals procedures where:

(a) the applicant is bankrupt, subject to insolvency or winding-up procedures, its assets are being administered by a liquidator or by a court, it is in an arrangement with creditors, its business activities are suspended, or it is in any analogous situation arising from a similar procedure provided for under EU or national laws or regulations;

(b) it has been established by a final judgment or a final administrative decision that the applicant is in breach of its obligations relating to the payment of taxes or social security contributions in accordance with the applicable law;


(c) it has been established by a final judgment or a final administrative decision that the applicant is guilty of grave professional misconduct by having violated applicable laws or regulations or ethical standards of the profession to which the applicant belongs, or by having engaged in any wrongful intent or gross negligence, including, in particular, any of the following:

  1. (i)  fraudulently or negligently misrepresenting information required for the verification of the absence of grounds for exclusion or the fulfilment of eligibility or selection criteria or in the performance of a contract, a grant agreement or a grant decision;

  2. (ii)  entering into agreement with other applicants with the aim of distorting competition;

  3. (iii)  violating intellectual property rights;

  4. (iv)  attempting to influence the decision-making process of the Commission during the award procedure;

  5. (v)  attempting to obtain confidential information that may confer upon it undue advantages in the award procedure;

  1. (d)  it has been established by a final judgment that the applicant is guilty of any of the following:

    1. (i)  fraud, within the meaning of Article 3 of Directive (EU) 2017/1371 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Article 1 of the Convention on the protection of the European Communities' financial interests, drawn up by the Council Act of 26 July 1995;

    2. (ii)  corruption, as defined in Article 4(2) of Directive (EU) 2017/1371 or Article 3 of the Convention on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of Member States of the European Union, drawn up by the Council Act of 26 May 1997, or conduct referred to in Article 2(1) of Council Framework Decision 2003/568/JHA, or corruption as defined in the applicable law;

    3. (iii)  conduct related to a criminal organisation, as referred to in Article 2 of Council Framework Decision 2008/841/JHA;

    4. (iv)  money laundering or terrorist financing within the meaning of Article 1(3), (4) and (5) of Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council;

    5. (v)  terrorist offences or offences linked to terrorist activities, as defined in Articles 1 and 3 of Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA, respectively, or inciting, aiding, abetting or attempting to commit such offences, as referred to in Article 4 of that Decision;

    6. (vi)  child labour or other offences concerning trafficking in human beings as referred to in Article 2 of Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council;

  2. (e)  theapplicanthasshownsignificantdeficienciesincomplyingwithmainobligations in the performance of a contract, a grant agreement or a grant decision financed by the Union's budget, which has led to its early termination or to the application of liquidated damages or other contractual penalties, or which has been discovered following checks, audits or investigations by an authorising officer, OLAF or the Court of Auditors;

  3. (f)  it has been established by a final judgment or final administrative decision that the applicant has committed an irregularity within the meaning of Article 1(2) of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95;

  4. (g)  It has been established by a final judgement or final administrative decision that the applicant has created an entity in a different jurisdiction with the intent to circumvent fiscal, social or any other legal obligations of mandatory application in the jurisdiction of its registered office, central administration or principal place of business;

  5. (h)  it has been established by a final judgement or final administrative decision that an entity has been created with the intent referred to in point (g);

  6. (i)  for the situations referred to in points (c) to (h) above, the applicant is subject to:

    1. (i)  facts established in the context of audits or investigations carried out by European Public Prosecutor's Office after its establishment, the Court of Auditors, the European Anti-Fraud Office or the internal auditor, or any other check, audit or control performed under the responsibility of an authorising officer of an EU institution, of a European office or of an EU agency or body;

    2. (ii)  non-final judgments or non-final administrative decisions which may include disciplinary measures taken by the competent supervisory body responsible for the verification of the application of standards of professional ethics;

    3. (iii)  facts referred to in decisions of persons or entities being entrusted with EU budget implementation tasks;

    4. (iv)  information transmitted by Member States implementing Union funds;

    5. (v)  decisions of the Commission relating to the infringement of Union competition law or of a national competent authority relating to the infringement of Union or national competition law; or

    6. (vi)  decisions of exclusion by an authorising officer of an EU institution, of a European office or of an EU agency or body.

7.2. Remedial measures

If an applicant declares one of the situations of exclusion listed above (see section 7.1), it must indicate the measures it has taken to remedy the exclusion situation, thus demonstrating its reliability. This may include e.g. technical, organisational and personnel measures to correct the conduct and prevent further occurrence, compensation of damage or payment of fines or of any taxes or social security contributions. The relevant documentary evidence which illustrates the remedial measures taken must be provided in annex to the declaration. This does not apply for situations referred in point (d) of section 7.1.

7.3. Rejection from the call for proposals

The authorising officer shall not award a grant to an applicant who:

  1. (a)  is in an exclusion situation established in accordance with section 7.1; or

  2. (b)  has misrepresented the information required as a condition for participating in the procedure or has failed to supply that information; or

  3. (c)  was previously involved in the preparation of documents used in the award procedure where this entails a breach of the principle of equal treatment, including distortion of competition, that cannot be remedied otherwise.


Administrative sanctions (exclusion) may be imposed on applicants if any of the declarations or information provided as a condition for participating in this procedure prove to be false.

7.4. Supporting documents

Applicants must provide a declaration on their honour certifying that they are not in one of the situations referred to in Articles 136(1) and 141 FR, by filling in the relevant form attached to the application form accompanying the call for proposals and available at

This obligation may be fulfilled in one of the following ways:

  1. (i)  the coordinator of a consortium signs a declaration on behalf of all applicants; OR

  2. (ii)  each applicant in the consortium signs a declaration in its name; OR

  3. (iii)  each applicant in the consortium each sign a separate declaration in their own




8.1. Financial capacity

Applicants must have stable and sufficient sources of funding to maintain their activity throughout the duration of the grant and to participate in its funding. The applicants' financial capacity will be assessed on the basis of the following supporting documents to be submitted with the application:

a) Low value grants (≤ EUR 60 000):

  1. b)  Grants


      

  2. c)  Grants (i)


a declaration on their honour. > EUR 60 000:

a declaration on their honour

the profit and loss account as well as the balance sheet for the last financial year for which the accounts were closed;

for newly created entities: the business plan might replace the above documents;

the table with the financial figures provided for in the annex to the application form, filled in with the relevant statutory accounting figures.

for an action > EUR 750 000:

the information and supporting documents mentioned in point b) above, and

an audit report produced by an approved external auditor certifying the accounts for the last financial year available, where such an audit report is available or whenever a statutory report is required by law.

If the audit report is not available AND a statutory report is not required by law, a self-declaration signed by the applicant's authorised representative certifying the validity of its accounts for the last financial year available must be provided.

In the event of an application grouping several applicants (consortium), the above thresholds apply to each applicant.

On the basis of the documents submitted, if the Authorised Representative Officer of the Commission considers that financial capacity is weak, s/he may:

  •   request further information;

  •   decide not to give pre-financing;

  •   decide to give pre-financing paid in instalments;

  •   decide to give pre-financing covered by a bank guarantee (see section 11.7.2 below);

  •   where applicable, require the joint and several financial liability of all the co- beneficiaries.

    If the Authorised Representative Officer of the Commission considers that the financial capacity is insufficient s/he will reject the application.

8.2. Operational capacity

Applicants must have the professional competencies as well as appropriate qualifications necessary to complete the proposed action. The applicants must demonstrate collectively prior activity at the crossings of art and technology. Some partners should have had prior exposure to STARTS activities and some partners to putting forward art and technology collaboration on a city/regional level.

In this respect, applicants have to submit a declaration on their honour, and the following supporting documents:

  •   A description of the applicants’ relevant competences and previous experiences;

  •   curriculum vitae of the people primarily responsible for managing and implementing the operation. This CV must prove capacity to work at the intersection of art, technology and regional development. The CV must help establish a track record for having organised activities and projects that link art and technology.

    In the event of an application grouping several applicants (consortium), the above requirements shall apply to the combined capacity of all members of the consortium. Combined capacity means that individually, each member of the consortium should comply with the criteria corresponding to its task in the project.



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