STARTS Talks Kick Off in Berlin and Eindhoven


Following a round of inspiring talks that culminated in the STARTS Prize Forum at the 2017 Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, STARTS is initiating a brand-new format this autumn and taking it on the road in Europe. The acronym STARTS stands for science, technology and the arts. It’s an initiative of the European Commission focusing on innovative projects at the nexus of these three domains. Marleen Stikker, STARTS Talks moderator and director of the Waag Society, one of the participating organizations, told us about the mission of this series and previewed the speakers in Berlin und Eindhoven.

Why did you launched the STARTS Talks?

Marleen Stikker: Every year, two STARTS Prize winners are selected. These recipients, chosen for good reasons by a very well-informed and skilled jury, address the aims of the STARTS project of the European Commission: to bring science, technology and the arts together to create new visions, collaborations and even solutions in accordance with the belief that the arts can make innovation more human-centered and sustainable.

Apart from those two winning collaborations, however, there are always lots of other works and collaborations that are brought to the attentions of the jury and the EU STARTS initiative as a whole—projects that receive an honorary mention from the jury, but also the ones that get shortlisted. Besides that, there are a lot more successful practitioners active in the post-disciplinary field where science, technology and the arts meet, which, in their own way, fit the criteria of the STARTS Initiative.

In order to initiate a discussion about successful practices, about critical practices that span the entire EU, STARTS Prize honorees and, on occasion, also those from the STARTS Initiative family projects, VERTIGO and WEAR Sustain, are brought to the attention of a wider audience by the STARTS Talks events, two of which are now planned.

What will be addressed and who will speak?

Marleen Stikker: STARTS Talk #1 will be staged in Berlin on October 18th at DRIVE Volkswagen Group Forum Berlin with presentations by Garnet Hertz (Critical Making, Disobedient Electronics) and psychologist Philippe Bertrand (BeAnotherLab), recipient of a STARTS Prize honorable mention. We will start at 7 PM, admission is free. In this edition of the STARTS Talks the focus is on how the critical perspectives of the arts can inspire new directions in socially responsible transformation. The setting of the STARTS talk is included into the exhibition of Ars Electronica Linz that is currently on display at the DRIVE. Volkswagen Group Forum.

STARTS Talk #2 will happen during Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven on October 26th with a presentation by award-winning experimental designer Frank Kolkman, who makes, among other things, DIY surgical machines, followed by a reaction from Geert Christiaansen, head of Design Innovation at Phillips. In this edition of the STARTS Talks the focus is on artistic research and the relevance for industry and science. We will discuss the added value of collaborations between art, science, technology and business from different perspectives. How do these collaborations work and when is it a success?

How do the STARTS Talks further the STARTS Initiative and the STARTS Prize?

Marleen Stikker: Every STARTS Talk event brings practitioners with exemplary, outstanding work that has been recognized by the STARTS Prize to the stage together with other exemplary thinkers and practitioners. Their remarks are followed be a discussion among them and the audience to address social issues and challenges inherent in their work and what we can learn from them to further the important aims of the STARTS Initiative—to make technologies more humane, more sustainable; more open, fair and inclusive, as we say at Waag Society.

Currently running under the aegis of the STARTS Initiative is VERTIGO STARTS, an interesting open call targeting developers of information & communication technology projects. For details, go to Entries for STARTS Prize consideration can be submitted beginning in mid-January 2018. More info will be online in early January at!

Marleen Stikker

Marleen Stikker (1962) is founder of De Digitale Stad (The Digital City) in 1994, the first virtual community introducing free public access to the Internet. She is founder of Waag, a social enterprise that consists of Waag Society, a research Institute for creative technologies and social innovation and Waag Products, that launched companies like Fairphone, the first fair smartphone in the world. She is also is advisor to the policy strategy group of the EU.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 732019. This publication (communication) reflects the views only of the author, and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein