A few weeks ago, a small team of 4 Agro-Knowers started working on their application for the Europeana Creative
Natural History Challenge. Since in Agro-Know we already have the experience of the Natural Europe project,
successfully completed in 2013, as well as a shared interest for open data and biodiversity knowledge management, we knew that the Europeana Creative Challenge would represent the right opportunity to present and test our ideas.
For those not familiar, Europeana Creative is a EU co-funded project launched in 2013 and promoting the re-use of
cultural heritage resources by Europe’s creative industries. The Natural History track is among the first Challenges launched by Europeana Creative, with the aim to “identify, incubate and spin off into the commercial sector viable online applications based on the re-use of digital cultural heritage content accessible via Europeana“, an impressive online source of cultural heritage, from paintings, drawings and maps to newspapers, letters, music, radio broadcasts and much more.
For this competition, we chose to focus on how our Pathway Authoring tool, a simple and accessible approach to the creation, management and publishing of online scenarios, could support the reuse of Europeana’s digital content to empower museums and their staff. Our previous research in this field had shown that museum educators and content experts are often lacking time, financial resources or digital skills to realise their digital vision for educating the public. A need for a simple and affordable tool to digitise their existent paper based resources, and reduce their costs with design and development of educational content was expressed by several museums. Equipped with a great vision, we started working on our application, describing our idea, its potential social and market impact, its financial and economic viability and our teams’ expertise for achieving our proposed plan.
After having successfully submitting our application on April 14, a few days later we received the great news that we had been selected among the finalists of the Challenge and we were invited to Brussels, to pitch our solution in front of the public and the Europeana Creative Challenge Board consisting of eight members from the project consortium and external experts with experience in online business modelling, web/app development, financing and investment. As team leader, I was excited to represent my team and pitch our idea, so I was happy to book my tickets and jump on an early train to Brussels.
The event was hosted at The EGG in Brussels, an impressive hub of over 15.000m sq. dedicated to creativity and innovation and organised under the umbrella of “New Frontiers for European Entrepreneurs Event” (NFFEE), organised by ACE, EUHUB and others. In the context of the Europeana strand, several presentations took place. Steven Stegers and Jiří Frank presented the existent three Europeana Creative Pilots. Following this, Simon Delaere from iMinds officially launched the Creative Ring, a new experimental community for sharing creative contents all over Europe, founded by iMinds, CREATENET, I2CAT, The EGG, Fabra i Coats and Trento Museum of Science. To illustrate how they connect local activities and physical spaces with entrepreneurs, apps and creative communities, Fabio Antonelli, Alain Heureux and Artur Serra presented their three hubs in Trento, Brussels and Barcelona.
The long awaited pitching session was a success for the Agro-Know team. Out of the seven finalists, I was the first to pitch. I felt confident about presenting our solution and excited about the opportunity to work closely with the Europeana Creative team to achieve our vision. Six other great ideas were pitched in front of the jury and the public. Needless to say, I was thrilled when, after jury’s deliberation, they announced our product as winner of the Natural History track.
For the History Education track, the winners were Trimaps from Belgium, a very nice concept that offers geolocation services on top of historical maps and Zeitfenster from Germany with a mobile app for discovering cities, historical sites and unique events by superposing heritage images/videos/sound on top of the user’s phone or tablet capture of sites.
For us, this is the beginning of a very exciting time, together with a unique opportunity to learn, grow and work alongside the experts of Europeana Creative. Stay tuned and share the experience with us!
More pictures available at Flickr.