Call: NICE Award 2017. The European Award for Innovations in Culture and Creativity.

The Application form will be available on www.e-c-c-e.com until 14 May (the deadline extended!). 

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 and today amounts to 25 partners from 15 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 annual 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. The 2017 jury consists of

• Anne Stenros, Chief Design Officer Helsinki, Finland (Head of Jury)

• Pieter Aarts, ContentKings Rotterdam; board member of the Design Management Network, The Netherlands

• Gilles Rougon, Member of the Board of Director 2015-2017 WDO – World Design Organization, Paris, France

• Miriam van de Lubbe, Van Eijk & van de Lubbe, The Netherlands

• Markus Wild, WILD Design Shanghai/Gelsenkirchen, Germany

For more information about the network and the award please go to www.nice-europe.eu.


The NICE Award 2017 Theme: 

Creating an Inclusive World – A Call for Transformative Innovations 

Globalization and digitization have been drivers for the freedom of expression and exchange, for cultural diversity and intercultural tolerance. Additionally, civil rights, participation and social inclusion have incrementally become standard in policy working for the vision of an open, global and digital society without any form of exclusion.

Human centric values are ideally to be mirrored in an open economy where fair trade benefits humankind on both the individual and societal level. A value-based society has to be mirrored by economic actors who base their decisions on the foundations of sustainability and social responsibility. According to the European Commission:

„it is about ensuring that environments, products, services and interfaces work for people of all ages and abilities in different situations and under various circumstances.“

Today, the vision of an inclusive society is challenged by a range of phenomena that confuse the individual: the extraordinary speed of digital transformation raises the fear to lose rather than gain a better life; the volume and dynamics of transnational migration is perceived to challenge stability and safety of the social systems which were meant to protect; the otherness of cultural diversity seeds doubts about the value of discovering the other. Formerly unquestionable fundaments for the pursuit of happiness are now being doubted.

We believe that the stakeholders from the culture and creative sectors – artists, cultural and creative entrepreneurs and companies, public institutions, other professionals as well as researchers – are essential actors in shaping a better society. Thus, the NICE Award 2017 invites individuals, teams and organizations from the cultural and creative sectors to propose surprising and experimental solutions for helping shape an inclusive society in this high speed world of digital and global disruption. Special, but not exclusive, attention is to be given to human centric design, citizen participation and/or co-creation as well as transformative social innovation.

The following existing projects are meant to exemplify the range of identified problems and their proposed solutions that would be eligible for this call:


Challenge: Cities are transformed by enormous external factors such as overpopulation of people and vehicles, forest fires, assaulting storms and floods, famine and diseases. Furthermore, urban residents often feel alienated from their home town when they cannot participate in the major infrastructural investments governing their lives for decades to come, sometimes leading to the negletion of policy decisions and even law. This applies also to new architectures of green energy, of collaborative transportations or multiuse spaces for work, live and leisure. How can we create innovative solutions in citizen participation and co-creation to promote a more inclusive city?

Solutions: www.rebuildbydesign.org; www.newtactics.org; www.hel.fi/www/Helsinki/en/administration/participate/channels/ 


Challenge: The process of migration transforms a formerly included individual into an excluded person, in every culture and nation alike. If migration is part of the new normal, we need values and tools to overcome exclusion more quickly. Having taught the youth in openness, empathy and explorative courage in an often childish and naïve manner, how do grownups or even elder people (re-)learn such strategies? How do we integrate these learnings in modern online games – without being overly pedagogical and educational? How to re-design education to include people of different cultures and various backgrounds into a modern society – in all kinds of formal and informal approaches?

Solution: www.themachinetobeanother.org 


Challenge: Communication in web and social media can create inclusion. Nevertheless, the mix of technological sophistication with polarisation in public opinion raises concerns that online communication can also segregate communities and dismantle social cohesion. The direct impact of digital communication can create fear of (physically) distant political conflicts or natural disasters and decrease readiness for intercultural exchange. How to help create an open world of digital information without reinforcing drawbacks and prejudices?

Solutions: www.musicianswithoutborders.org or europeanjournalists.org/mediaagainsthate/; www.newtactics.org


The NICE Award Call for an inclusive world is open to projects in all sectors of society as long as they are driven by stakeholders from the cultural and creative sectors. This can include projects for an inclusive society in fields such as

– Digital Technology

– Health(care)

– Education

– Food and Nutrition

– Mobility

– Energy

– Heritage and Culture

– Environment and Climate

– Other…. this list of sectors above is not exhaustive. Other suggestions and proposals from different fields and topics are welcome.


Who can apply? 

Eligible for the NICE Award are

– Individuals or entrepreneurs from the cultural and creative sectors, including designers, architects, filmmakers and performing arts as well as visual artists and video artists

– Organisations such as profit and non-profit companies and public institutions or agencies, non-profit foundations or initiatives as well as research institutions from within the cultural and creative sectors

– Collaborative teams and networks, even those without a legal entity.

– Former applicants may apply for the NICE Award as long as they submit a project which has not already been subject to an earlier application for NICE Award.

Applicants must be based in one of the 28 member states of the European Union (EU 28), the candidate or potential candidate states to the European Union as of 2017 being Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. see: europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/countries_en 

If an application gets shortlisted, this applicant must ensure his/her participation (jury interviews, NICE Award Executive Dinner, Forum d’Avignon Ruhr and the Meet & Match event) in the NICE-related events from 6-7 September in Essen.

Travel cost can be partially refunded for one representative of the shortlisted projects as participant in the Forum d’Avignon Ruhr. One hotel room from 5-7 September will be booked and covered by ecce.


Solutions with transformative innovations from cross-sectorial teams are favored. 

Please note: The call is directed to applicants from all over Europe. Applicants from countries where a visa is required are asked to apply for visa at their own expense as soon as possible after being shortlisted.


What are eligible entries? 

The entries can be

– Single projects that have been started/realized between 01.01.2014 and by 31.12.2016.

– Policies and other innovative activities which have started between 01.01.2014 and by 31.12.2016.

The projects must take place within the EU28 nations, the candidate or potential candidate countries to the European Union – see: europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/countries_en 

In order to take part, applicants are asked to add a short promotional film (2 minutes max.) to the application giving an insight into the project and/or idea. This can be an existing (if necessary re-edited) or a newly produced film.


It is obligatory that the film 

a) is in English or providing perfectly legible English subtitles

b) includes a prefix with project title, applicant/submitter, city, nation, year of realization of the submitted project/policy/activity

c) ends with all credits.

By submitting a video weblink, the applicant grants ecce consent to the video’s being published, viewed and assessed by ecce and the jury appointed by ecce.

The film needs to be fit to be presented a.) in the NICE Award ceremony as an introduction about the submission to the audience and/or b.) online on www.e-c-c-e.com.

Film standard must be 1080 p resolution, format: mp4, avi or mov.


How to apply: Online Submission 

The application online form has to be filled in English. 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 and completely.


Application and Selection Procedures: Deadlines 

The deadline for the online submission of all applications is May 14th 2017.

Up to 10 projects will be nominated for the NICE Award 2017. These will constitute the NICE Award Shortlist 2017 and be presented during NICE Award Executive Dinner and Ceremony.

Applicants shortlisted by the jury are informed latest by July 3rd 2017.

On September 6th, 10.00 am to 02.00 pm the jury will select the winners from the shortlist by interviewing all nominees in the city of Essen, Germany.

Starting at 06.00 pm on the same day, the NICE Award Executive Dinner and Ceremony will be held and hosted by the Minister of Economic Affairs, Energy and Industry of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia in the Philharmonie (philharmonic concert hall) Essen.


Benefits for NICE Award Winners 

• The Award pool is 20.000 Euro, which will be split amongst the winners depending on their ranking and at the jury’s exclusive discretion.

• All Award winners are invited to an exclusive meeting with the NICE Award funders, that is representatives of the Minister of Economic Affairs, Energy and Industry of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Cities of Essen, Bochum, Dortmund and Gelsenkirchen. This meeting offers to each winner the opportunity for match-making and funding of their projects.


Benefits for all NICE Award Nominees 

• Participation at NICE Award Executive Dinner on September 6 with industry leaders and businesses from North Rhine-Westphalia and beyond, an opportunity for match-making and collaborations.

• Participation at Forum d’Avignon Ruhr, an annual international conference on Cultural and Creative Sectors and Culture Policy trends on September 7 in Essen

• Hosting an info desk at the Forum d’Avignon Ruhr’s Meet & Match event with approximately 200 policy makers and stakeholders from the cultural and creative sectors across Europe. Each info desk includes a desk for two persons and a 100cmx150cm sized poster presenting the submitted project.

• Outreach: All shortlisted projects will be published on www.e-c-c-e.com and on social media.