NICE – An Introduction


The Political Context

The Latvian EU presidency 2015 put spillover effects of culture and the creative industries into social areas high on the political agenda. Thanks to the dedication of Dace Melbârde, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, in June 2015, the European ministers of culture adopted measures to promote the effects of culture and the creative industries in innovation, economic sustainability and social inclusion for the first time.

Launching the NICE Network

In 2013, the Network for Innovations in Culture and Creativity in Europe (NICE) was launched by a consortium of 15 European cities, universities, agencies and personalities under the auspices of the european centre for creative economy (ecce) with support from the Ministry for Family, Children, Youth, Culture and Sport of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. Since then, NICE pushes and promotes the visibility of innovations from culture and the creative industries – the so-called spillover effects – with the help of the NICE Award, but also with political engagement in the European Parliament. So it was not a coincidence that it was ecce and the European Creative Business Network (ECBN) who opened the cultural conference of the Latvian EU presidency in Riga with a keynote speech on spillover effects of culture and the creative industries. In 2015, the NICE Network had reason to celebrate a preliminary highlight of the still young award with 213 submissions from 29 countries for the call: "Solving the World‘ Major Challenges".

The NICE Award Shortlist 2015

All applications were of a high standard, and all projects submitted were aimed at changing and thus positively affecting the world with their innovations – both in their direct environment and at the global level. The project “WikiHouse” from the United Kingdom uses open-source design to build a home: a worldwide platform for a do-it-yourself building system to create low-cost, low-energy houses fitted to your needs. The developers of "Fontus and Airo" from Austria designed water bottles capable of filling themselves up, literally never running dry. Powered by solar cells and mounted on your bike or rucksack, the system can filter up to 0.8 liters of water from air moiture within one hour. "Smarter Than You Think" from Belgium deals with social inclusion. It is a campaign aiming to raise awareness about dyslexia and promoting understanding and empathy towards this condition. "HELIX Studio" from the United Kingdom is an exploration into how design can transform the healthcare sector. The aim of this design thinking cooperation of a university hospital and an art college is to identify and implement patient-oriented solutions.

The NICE Award Winner 2015

"THE MACHINE TO BE ANOTHER" is an art investigation: designed as an interactive performance installation, the Machine offers users the possibility of engaging with another person’s life story by seeing themselves in the body of this person and listening to his/her thoughts in side their mind. Due to the phenomenon of mass migration in Europe, this art project is more topical than ever. The social challenge consists of a mutual understanding of cultural differences in only a short time: can such an empathy experiment help overcome social tension? Can this art project give impetus to peaceful discussions in a highly tensed up society? Such questions, perspectives and hopes convinced the jury to award the first prize of the NICE Award to "THE MACHINE TO BE ANOTHER". The NICE Award was conferred by Garrelt Duin, Minister of Economic Affairs, Energy and Industry of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. The cooperation of the Ministry for Culture and the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia serves as an example for future new systems for the promotion of innovation as required by the European Union – a spillover effect, if you will.

We believe that the promotion of cultural and creative innovations of the Europe 2020 strategy requires a multi-level, if not integrative, strategy in Europe. By enhancing the visibility of cultural innovations, the NICE Award is an important contribution to the success of the Europe 2020 strategy, but that is not enough. More innovations in politics and promotion are necessary. With your help, we will continue to focus our efforts in this direction!