From climate change to coronavirus: the artists and startups using data to tackle misinformation challenge

Thu Apr 15, 2021
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Data innovation hub MediaFutures announces the first 19 projects to receive funding and support to develop their ideas to combat misinformation

MediaFutures is an EU-funded data innovation hub that brings together startups and artists to tackle misinformation, delivered by a consortium of 10 organisations including the Open Data Institute (ODI). 

The MediaFutures programme has three tracks:

Last November, MediaFutures issued the first of three calls for applications, seeking ideas that encourage citizens to engage with quality journalism, science communication and digital citizenship by communicating with data in inspiring and informative ways.

From this open call, 19 projects were initially selected to potentially receive up to €80,000 in grant funding and up to six months of training, mentoring and support to develop their ideas.

Alexandra Garatzogianni, Coordinator of MediaFutures, Head of Knowledge and Technology Transfer at TIB and Coordinator of EU Projects at Leibniz University of Hannover, said:

‘The infodemic that has accompanied the coronavirus pandemic over the last year has demonstrated the urgent need to tackle misinformation. In MediaFutures we are establishing a multidisciplinary data innovation hub for Europe where startups, SMEs and artists receive the necessary multifaceted support to further develop their ideas and solutions, thus strengthening the media industry in new and exciting ways. We are delighted to welcome the first startups, SMEs and artists to the MediaFutures programme and to see them growing during the next six months.’

Orsola De Marco, Head of Innovation at the ODI, said:

‘The ODI has worked with startups and artists to use data in creative and innovative ways since it was founded in 2012. MediaFutures’ focus on digital literacy, responsible uses of data and innovation, aligns perfectly with the ODI’s mission to build an open, trustworthy data ecosystem. We look forward to working closely with the startups and artists to help them flourish.’

Meet the projects

Artists for Media

The following projects join the artist residency programme:

  • Critical Climate Machine: visual artist Gaëtan Robillard will develop a digital sculpture and sound installation that quantifies and reveals the mechanisms of misinformation on global warming
  • The Evil Magic Mirror: Obvious Collective, a group of artists who work with artificial intelligence, will create a mirror which communicates fake content about well-known conspiracies with the reflection of whoever stands in front of it
  • Social Sandwich: artistic studio Fast Familiar will develop a social artwork based on an app that encourages people to encounter the unfamiliar and practice the arts of cooperation and critical thinking
  • Soft Evidence: conceptual artists Dejha Ti and Ania Catherine will create a series of slow visual scenes that never happened – films manipulated by machines trained to lie
  • 730 Hours of Violence: Domestic Data Streamers, a mix of designers, social scientists, engineers and creative technologists, will combine the power of storytelling with data and arts for a participatory project exploring misinformation and violence

Startups for Citizens

The ‘Startups for Citizens’ and ‘Startup meets Artists’ tracks have three phases: the ‘START’ phase, the ‘BUILD’ phase and the ‘EXHIBIT’ phase. In the START phase, the projects were given one month and up to €5,000 to refine their idea. The projects then had to pitch their idea to a panel of judges from the MediaFutures consortium to win a place on the BUILD phase. At the end of the BUILD phase in September, the remaining projects are invited to take part in the EXHIBIT phase for a chance to pitch their ideas and win an additional cash prize.

The following ‘Startups for Citizens’ projects were successful in securing a place on the BUILD phase:

  • Closing the Gap – the Gokind venture: powered by the EU’s Open Banking framework, startup Gokind will improve citizens’ access to information on companies’ sustainability and equality efforts
  • DEEP (Data Engagement & Enhanced Perspectives): startup XR Impact will create an immersive virtual reality experience, leveraging behavioural science and a data feminist framework, to assess and contexualise Covid-19 data
  • People Supported Intelligence: startup SURU Together will develop a community-focused platform that uses data about coronavirus to address community-level issues by encouraging conversations among diverse groups and meaningful discussions in small groups

The following projects participated in the START phase of the ‘Startups for Citizens’ track only:

  • ATMOSPHERES: harnessing participatory arts, design and emerging digital technologies, startup Hum Studio Interactive will develop an app which uses music and augmented reality to encourage young people to engage with climate change issues
  • Contemporary Tab: a team of artists, cultural and non-profit workers will develop a digital platform where people can support the arts and engage with quality art journalism
  • Open the Box: Dataninja will develop an educational digital platform for teachers and educators to teach data literacy to students in order to counter disinformation
  • ISKA42: startup OWN Intelligence will build a machine learning-powered digital assistant to make scientific knowledge available to anyone through their mobile phone

Startup meets Artist

The following projects were successful in securing a place on the BUILD phase of the ‘Startup meets Artist’ track:

  • How to read a Library: Studio Remco van Bladel, a multidisciplinary design studio, will collaborate with artist Mariana Darvas Lanari to develop digital tools and artworks that help people to access and share the knowledge contained in library collections
  • HYPERViz: Space and software startup ScanWorld will collaborate with interdisciplinary team from Studio De Wilde to engage the general public with how satellite imagery can assist society, from environmental management, to the way pandemics affect society
  • JECT-SENSE: Ject.AI, a digital tool for newsrooms, will collaborate with media artist Antoni Petrov Rayzhekov to develop novel and unconventional ways for journalists and a general audience to engage with news coverage
  • PONTE: EZC.Partners and The Cynefin Centre will collaborate with visual artist Annika Varjonen to combine technology platforms, narrative data and art to tackle division and radicalisation in communities, as well as developing a plug-in to social media that points users to content that differs from what they usually see

The following projects participated in the START phase of the ‘Startup meets Artist’ track only:

  • Community of Conversation: circular economy startup Mercato Circolare will collaborate with artists Pop Economix and Il Mutamento to create an interactive theatrical show about climate change
  • COVID-AR: augmented reality (AR) startup Intellia ICT will collaborate with artistic company Till Noon to build 3D graphics, animations and AR content to fight misinformation around the Covid-19 pandemic and improve data literacy
  • SINE: AI startup IN2 will collaborate with installation and film artist Haseeb Ahmed to create a tool to study how science is reported, at times sensationalised, and even forgotten

For more information about each project, please visit the MediaFutures ‘Projects’ page.

MediaFutures will launch its second Open Call in October 2021. For more information on the programme, visit the MediaFutures site.

MediaFutures is funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 framework, Big Data Innovation Hubs programme. It’s part of the Big Data Value Public-Private Partnership and the S+T+ARTS ecosystem.