NICE Award 2016 honours innovation in migration, economy and urban development

The Minister of Economic Affairs of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Garrelt Duin, singled out three projects as models for addressing urgent social issues by honouring them with the NICE Award 2016. The jury under the chairmanship of the prestigious urban researcher Charles Landry reviewed 105 applications from 25 countries and selected twelve projects from France, Georgia, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Spain for the shortlist, which were presented at the Philharmonie Essen  on 24 August 2016.


Two projects take the top spot this year

"Makerversity"  and "Refugee Open Cities"  each received EUR 8,000 prize money. Based in London and Amsterdam, Makerversity is a platform for creative young entrepreneurs within the global maker movement. With the Maker Campus as its distinguishing feature participants benefit not only from the knowledge of others, but also pass on their own experience. The Berlin Refugee Open Cities project improves the quality of life in refugee camps through personal involvement. What makes it special: Refugees become designers of their own lives, using their creative talents to build a liveable community.

Jury Chairman Charles Landry: "Both address vital questions, but they are so different."

The second prize (EUR 4,000) went to the Dortmund based project "Public Residence: the Chance", in which the creative currency "Chances" has transformed citizens of Borsigplatz in Dortmund into innovative shapers of their neighbourhood. What makes it special: The residents themselves organise creative and artistic projects and therefore become beacons of hope for the revitalisation of Borsigplatz.

The jury honoured the London initiative "Julie’s Bicycle" with the "Achievement Award", a non-monetary prize. For ten years now, this initiative has been committed to encouraging cultural and creative industries to contribute more actively to fighting climate change.

Die Gewinner des NICE Award 2016 mit der Jury bei der Preisverleihung.
© Vladimir Wegener/ecce

NICE Award 2016

The winners with the jury at the award ceremony

Adrian Sneeuw von "Makerversity", 1. Platz (geteilt mit Refugee Open Cities)
© Vladimir Wegener/ecce

Makerversity, first place (shared with Refugee Open Cities)

Sven Stegemann und Ole Seidenberg von Refugee Open Cities, 1. Platz (geteilt mit Makerversity)
© Vladimir Wegener/ecce

 Refugee Open Cities, first place (shared with Makerversity)

Volker Pohlüke von Public Residence: Die Chance, 2. Preis
© Vladimir Wegener/ecce
Alison Tickell von Julie's Bicycle, Achievement Award
© Vladimir Wegener/ecce

  Julie's Bicycle, Achievement Award, with Garrelt Duin, NRW-Minister for Economic Affairs

The winners of the NICE Award give us a new outlook on solutions to the urgent questions of our time. Creative innovations like those we find in the award-winning projects can develop a potential that we need to exploit more consistently.

Garrelt Duin, Minister for Economic Affairs, Energy and Industry of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia

Nothing remains as it is! The NICE Award shows examples of how creative and cultural impulses can respond to digital, economic and social changes in our society and how they can be used to shape transformation.

Prof Dieter Gorny, Managing Director of the european centre for creative economy (ecce)

Shortlist 2016

© LABoral
AuLAB is a methodological innovation experience grounded in project-based work and competence-based programmes which is developed in four lines of work: design and digital fabrication, experimental television, creative programming, and art and science.
Shortlist 2016Winner 2016
© Lluís Bort
elCASC is an urban festival that aims to investigate and transform the social and urban fabric, delivering a series of low-cost architectural, artistic and socio-cultural interventions that relate to the urban renewal process.
Shortlist 2016Winner 2016
© Hostanartist
Hostanartist is an online exchange platform that gives property owners the opportunity to share their space with artists. Artists will offer a work of art to create a unique link between themselves and their hosts.
Shortlist 2016Winner 2016

Introducing the shortlist

"Solving the World’s Major Challenges – A Call for Innovations" was the topic of the NICE Award 2016, which took place at the Philharmonie Essen on August 24th 2016. These six shortlisted candidates presented projects that focus on social innovations.


In 2016 the Jury sighted 105 applications from 25 countries and selected 12 projects from France, Georgia, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Spain for the shortlist. Six nominees present their projects dealing with digital innovation.

CALL 2016

The application process for 2016 is closed, but for informational purposes the call is accessible below.

  • N.I.C.E. Award 2016: Solving the World's Major Challenges – A Call for Innovations



    Under the leadership of the european centre for creative economy (ecce) in Dortmund the Network for Innovations in Culture and Creativity in Europe (NICE) was initiated in 2013 by a consortium of 15 cities, universities, agencies and personalities from 10 countries. It is a non-profit initiative funded by the Ministry for Family, Children, Youth, Culture and Sport of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The yearly NICE Award, financed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Energy and Industry of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, aims to promote innovations from the cultural and creative sectors especially those that spill over into the wider economy and society. The winners are decided by an independent jury. 2016 jury consists of Charles Landry (Comedia, UK), Michal Hladky (Creative Industry Kosice, Slovakia) Prof Kurt Mehnert (Folkwang University of the Arts, Germany), Dr Anne Stenros (Aalto University School of Business, Finland) and Dr Marcin Poprawski (Adam Mickiewicz University Poznan, Poland). For more information about the network please click here.


    The NICE Award 2016 Theme: Solving the World’s Major Challenges – A Call for Innovations

    The 2016 award challenges the cultural and creative sectors to propose surprising and experimental innovations that are solutions to difficult global problems with special, but not exclusive, attention given to digital innovations. Since its foundation in 2010 ecce examines the impulses of Cultural and Creative Industries on politics, economy and society. These so called spillover effects are often subject to evaluation, definition research and debates. The NICE Award addresses projects of cross sectorial character that often demonstrate spillover effects of the arts, culture and the creative industries. For more information about the spillover concept please see the publication to be debated SPILLOVER or visit the website of the European research partnership on cultural and creative spillovers.


    The following examples give an idea of the breadth of the call and it is not limited to these examples:

    • Cities are both growing exceptionally and also shrinking. Many are in danger of becoming dysfunctional and less liveable and sustainable. Which innovations coming from within the culture and creativity domain can help stop or turn around these trends? What is the role of digital innovations, such as creating seamless connectivity, re-designing mobility, enhancing information systems, improving way finding, monitoring health, 3-D printing – just to name a few.
    • Migration – cities are melting pots and migration either by choice or forced by wars and poverty is a growing phenomenon of our time and a major challenge for Europe. Among others it increases cultural and ethnic diversity. This is a double edged sword as it both enriches our lives but also creates misunderstandings, fears and violence: How can the cultural and creative sectors contribute to resolving these challenges and foster mutual understanding? Is there a special potential for digital innovations from ebooks for children in native and foreign languages to new kinds of performance or events in traditional or unusual settings? Can the digital world enrich our experience of culture, and if so how? Can it help increase our understanding of diversity of culture or of the potential of a more open society? Can it help make the arts and culture world more inclusive?
    • Work – the digital revolution is radically changing work and the divide between work and play is breaking down as 24/7 schedules become more dominant. What does this mean for cultural consumption? It shifts our sense of self and how and where we consume culture from cinema-going to attending concerts to experiencing urban art. In a digitalized world without dedicated spare time what is the new shape of culture? Is it visiting cinemas or using a streaming platform? Do you visit museums or access it via the google art project? How could or must the cultural creative institutions (re-)act?
    • Social innovation – How can culture and creativity have an impact on social challenges such as increasing poverty, social and financial insecurity, political indifference or climate change? Do new digital solutions open novel ways of providing education, sense of community, economic and social prosperity? What other fields can the cultural and creative sectors have a positive impact on? For instance in supporting new models of intergenerational understanding or for the challenges of health and especially for the elderly?


    The list above is not exhaustive. Other suggestions and proposals from within different fields and topics with effects across sectors are welcomed.


    Who can apply: Eligible Entries to the NICE Award 2016

    Entries eligible to the NICE Award can be single individuals such as artists and researchers; or organisations such as companies and public institutions or agencies, non-profit foundations or initiatives as well as research institutions from within the cultural and creative sectors. Teams, even those without legal personality, can also apply. The entries can be single projects that have already been realised or implemented; as well as policies and other innovative activities, such as planned research or proposed projects. Projects older than three years cannot be submitted. In order to take part, applicants are asked to add a short promotional film (1 minute max.) to the application giving an insight into the project and/or idea.


    How to apply: Online Submission



    The application, incl. the promotional film, has to be in English (or English subtitles in the promotional film). In addition to the submission form you can add complementary material as PDF and JPEG. Please follow the instructions of the form carefully. Your application can only be accepted if filled out correctly.


    Procedure and Timing: Jury-Meeting, Award Shortlist, Interviews and Ceremony 2016:

    Up to 15 projects will be nominated for the award by early June 2016. These will constitute the NICE Award Shortlist 2016 and be presented during the NICE Award event and exclusive NICE Industry Network Dinner on invitation of Minister Garrelt Duin on 24 August 2016 in Essen, Germany. The jury will select a maximum of four winners from the shortlist by interviewing all nominees on 24 August.


    The Award Ceremony will be held on 25 August and hosted by the Minister of Economic Affairs, Energy and Industry of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia Garrelt Duin in the Philharmonie in Essen.


    The Prizes:

    The Award total is 20.000 Euro. Its distribution amongst the four winners is to be decided by the jury.


    Additional benefits include:

    1. a.) Projects will be published on as well as promotion in the social media throughout 2016 / 2017
    2. b.) Published in an English / German catalogue
    3. c.) Presentation of the project to potential partners and a special network event with policy makers and stakeholders from the cultural and creative sectors in the Ruhr region.


    All nominees are invited to participate in the NICE networking dinner with companies from various industry sectors in North Rhine-Westphalia on 24 August in Essen.

JURY 2016

© private
Founder of Comedia
NICE AwardJury 2014Jury 2015Jury 2016
© private
Former Chief Design Office, City of Helsinki
NICE AwardJury 2016Jury 2017Jury 2019
© private
Adam Mickiewicz University Poznan, Poland
Jury 2016NICE Award
© private
Creative Industry Kosice, Slovakia
Jury 2016NICE Award
© Reio Avaste
Woman Public Space Prague
Jury 2016NICE Award
© private
Professor, Folkwang University of the Arts
NICE AwardJury 2016Jury 2017Jury 2015Jury 2014Jury 2019
About the Award

Since 2013, the annual NICE Award has been promoting innovations through the cultural and creative sectors, and their integration into the wider economy and society, with the aim of tackling the major challenges of our future today. To this end, the NICE Award creates visibility and know-how transfer throughout Europe for innovations that have been overlooked until now. It kicks off debates and sparks ideas in industry, culture and government, and motivates cultural and creative makers to be innovative and more experimental.

  • NICE Award History

    The first NICE Award served as a kick-off for NICE during the 2nd Forum d’Avignon Ruhr 2013 in Essen, Germany. It was held among participants of the conference, and it was the audience’s task to determine a winner. Four teams of ten were formed, throwing together people from different projects, backgrounds, age groups, and countries. They did not know each other, but they all had experiences in spillover projects. The teams were given different topics to consider – and five hours to roughly set up a spillover project related to Urban Development, Economy/New Work, Energy/Climate, or Intercultural Relations. In the end, each group had to present their project in a little performance. The Project "Shaking Hans" had won.


    In 2014, when the network had grown and strengthened through several meetings and workshops, a new call for the Award 2014 was published.

    The call looked with a wide scope for cultural and creative projects generating spillover effects. The prize was awarded for the most innovative spillover effect driven by a cultural and creative project, research projects or a political strategy/measure. 108 applications from 22 countries were submitted from Artists and cultural creative entrepreneurs, scientists, politics and towns. A jury constituted of Pia Areblad (TILLT, Sweden), Charles Landry (Comedia, UK), Prof. Kurt Mehnert (Folkwang University of the Arts, Germany) and Janjaap Ruijssenaars (Universe Architecture, The Netherlands) establishes a "best of" short list of ten projects.


    The projects of the nominees of the NICE Award were presented in the NICE Exhibition designed in the City-Messehalle in Essen.

    On 12 June 2014 Garrelt Duin, Minister of Economic Affairs, Energy and Industry of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, announced the winner of the award at the Forum d'Avignon Ruhr in the GOP Variety Theatre. The winners were: RLF / Richtiges Leben im Falschen (Berlin), Conexiones Improbables (Bilbao), the Unperfekthaus (Essen) and Urbanauts (Vienna). The NICE Award 2014 was funded with overall 10,000 Euro by the Ministry of Family, Children, Youth, Culture and Sports of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Cities of Bochum, Dortmund, Essen and Gelsenkirchen.


    The NICE Award is now an integral part of NICE, and it is the first of several tools and services with which NICE wants to foster innovation of culture and creativity as resources for economic growth and political development.


    In 2015 the NICE Award continued to grow: on the topic "Save the world-major challenges" 213 projects from 29 countries were submitted.

    On 23 September 2015 Garrelt Duin, Minister of Economic Affairs, Energy and Industry of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, announced the winner of the award at the Forum d’Avignon Ruhr in Essen. The winners were: TheMachineToBeAnother (Barcelona/Sao Paulo), PlanEt (Rotterdam), WikiHouse (London), HOME BACK HOME (Madrid) and Creative Technologies in the Classroom (Malmö). The NICE Award 2015 was funded with overall 20,000 Euro by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Energy and Industry of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Cities of Bochum, Dortmund, Essen and Gelsenkirchen.

  • 2015 - Improving the World with Creativity

    "Improving the world with creativity": the winners of the NICE Award 2015


    Garrelt Duin, Minister for Economic Affairs, Energy and Industry of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia presented the NICE Award in Essen to five international projects in the course of the Forum d’Avignon Ruhr. 213 applicants from 29 countries had submitted projects to this year's topic "Solving the World's Major Challenges – A Call for Innovations".


    The project "The Machine to be Another" from Brazil receives the first prize (8000 euros). Using digital technology the installation makes it possible to immerse oneself in the body and thoughts of another person and to view oneself in the body of the other person.


    Jury Chairman Charles Landry: "The project is impressive due to its unique combination of art and science and employs technology beyond known limits."


    Further prizes go to "PlanEt" from Great Britain and the Netherlands (5000 euros), which evaluates data of plants in cities and is thus a component of future "Smart Cities". "WikiHouse" from Great Britain (3000 euros) revolutionises house building and enables citizens to co-design the city. Two further prizes went to "Home back Home" from Spain and "Creative Technologies in Classroom", from Sweden (2000 euros each).


    The Minister for Economic Affairs of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia Garrelt Duin: "The NICE Award is about visibility. The potential and performance power of creative persons is all too often overlooked. The prize and its presentation within the very special setting of the Forum d'Avignon Ruhr make sure that a spotlight is switched on which illuminates the innovative strength of the sector."


    Dieter Gorny, Managing Director of ecce: "The NICE Award distinguishes the Ruhr area as a location for cultural innovation – entirely in the tradition of the European Capital of Culture RUHR.2010.“


    Click here for all information on the NICE Award 2015

    [Translate to Englisch:] The NICE Award 2015 ceremony at GOP.
  • 2014 - Spillover Effects of Culture and Creativity

    "The Real Life in the Wrong One": Transmedia art project against capitalism wins NICE Award 2014


    From 10 to 12 June, in the Creative.Quarter City Nord.Essen, about 200 cultural and creative artists, as well as representatives from politics, research and the economy from 21 countries met for the third time at the 3rd Forum d’Avignon Ruhr and the exhibition of the European Innovation Award for Culture, the NICE Award. In total, 108 projects from 22 countries applied for the NICE Award 2014.


    The international jury headed by Charles Landry nominated 10 projects and invited them to the exhibition at City Messehalle in Essen, which was opened in parallel to the Forum d’Avignon Ruhr. Following one-on-one interviews with the nominees at the exhibition, the jury consisting of Charles Landry, Prof. Kurt Mehnert, Pia Areblad and Janjaap Ruijssenaars announced the following four award winners.


    The winner of 5,000 € is the project "RLF Richtiges Leben im Falschen/The Real Life in the Wrong One" of Projektbüro Friedrich von Borries in Berlin, a transmedia art project in cooperation with ARTE, Suhrkamp and UFA.


    It is a playful yet serious critique of capitalism. The jury honoured the multi-media campaign as a cultural innovation. Based on an open digital community, RLF systematically dissolves the thin line between reality and fiction. "A unique combination of media and non-media channels transforms RLF into a multi-dimensional weapon of revolution: it's a novel, an actual company, a game, a film that enters the real world in the shape of specific events and interventions," describes Projektbüro Friedrich von Borries the project. To experience and understand his statement, you just have to play it:


    The second prize worth 2,000 € each goes to Unperfekthaus in Essen and the Spanish project Conexiones Improbables from Bilbao.


    Conexiones Improbables is a Network which brings artists and companies together, the Unperfekthaus affords artists of every kind a place where they can express their creativity freely.


    Another prize worth 1,000 € goes to URBANAUTS Street Lofts from Vienna, which was also invited by Creative Business Cup Denmark to attend the Creative Entrepreneur Week in November 2014. The invitation was sponsored by Rasmus Tscherning, Managing director of the Centre for Cultural and Experience Economy in Denmark.


    The NICE Award 2014 was presented by NRW Minister for Economic Affairs Garrelt Duin on 12 June at the end of the Forum d’Avignon Ruhr. The NICE Award is funded by the Ministry for Family, Children, Youth, Culture and Sport of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Cities of Bochum, Dortmund, Essen and Gelsenkirchen.


    Click here for all information on the NICE Award 2014

     Garrelt Duin (third from the left), Minister for Economic Affairs, Energy and Industry of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, and the winners of the NICE Award 2014.


The NICE Award is funded by: