CultTech Space Debates – Takeaways

by paradoxig

An intense series of debates around CultTech and mechanism of investments, where startups, artists, investors, thinkers were invited, in an event organized by IF (Immaterial Future Association) at 2022 edition of Ars Electronica.

Do you know a cultural/creative startup? If your answer is no, try again.
Think Spotify, Netflix, Clubhouse, Patreon and the new generations: Unity, Roblox, Sandbox, Midjourney, etc… And these are only a few examples driving the creators economy, changing the ways culture is presented, created, consumed. Sometimes called CultTech (sometimes ArtTech or CreaTech), startups are changing the cultural and creative landscape.

While in the USA or China, investments in the next-creative economy are booming, unicorns are appearing, users are captivated by technology, Classy-Europe risks to remain (again?) a few years later to the party. Or not?

To invest or not to invest…in culture? Is this even a question?
In EU, A big portion of cultural support comes via old-school mechanisms such as patronage, grants, private or public funding or EU grants that support few artists and more grants administrators from different NGOs. But, available funds cannot compete anymore with the bigger and bigger requests, and none of the existing forms are sustainable.
Maybe another question is: How to invest in culture?

Some Startups and Investors are trying to rethink mechanisms to support culture and arts. And dialogues can come with some heated debates, such as the one at the CultTech Space organized by Immaterial Future Association at Ars Electronica 2022!
*How to invest in culture? new business models? Scaling up? New institutions to support Culture?
*Culture and Technology? What about the Metaverse?
*What are the next jobs in an era that is more and more digitalised? more Leisure time for high-art?
*The next creative startups? New types of collaborations?
These were only some of the topics that challenged guests with different views and visions to try to give answers. But, the intensive debates showed one thing: more debates are necessary 😛 And representatives of the organizers promised to offer more spaces for debates, dialogues, questions, visions.

Maybe the first answer to all these questions should be offered by those who are offering concrete solutions for the future: The CultTech Startups.

Some time ago, the Viennese Immaterial Future Association organized the IF Innovation Awards, where US-based Roots Studio took the big prize. Backed by Chanel Foundation and Cartier Women’s Initiative, Roots Studio is connecting brands with a huge pool of talented artists from different indigenous communities globally.
Read here TechvangArt interview with the Founder Rebecca Hui

And this year, a series of accelerator program was set up for startups (read about the Batch1 HERE ) and few of them showcased their products:

CultTech Startups Showcase at Ars Electronica 2022:

Online library and editor for interactive sheet music.
What is Enote? Professional scores. Powerful features. Unlimited access. Enote is sheet music for the 21st century. The Enote library has thousands of works from the baroque to the late romantic era, reconstructed in a reliable digital format.
New musical instrument based on easy-to-customize touchscreen.
Embodme develops proprietary sensor technologies for 3D touch and touchless interaction. Experimentation on its surface comes flawlessly bringing musicians closer to their original intents and ideas. nb: interview coming soon 🙂


Social marketplace for live events.
Wail is an organic platform for live events worldwide. A solution for social engagement around events, a marketplace (tickets), event discovery and SAAS for event organisers/ promoters. Wail is a b2b2c service with the aim of connecting the music industry directly with fans.
NFT marketplace for music and new models of royalty connected.
KLOOV is a social Web3 platform for Music, closing the gap between artists and their audience through innovative monetization & royalty sharing models based on NFT technology.


Vrisch VR
Vrisch VR, AR, 360 video agency and production company from Vienna, that develop VR AR software and immersive experiences to help innovation leaders improve communication with their audience by reducing distraction and maximizing engagement. Our tool? Applied Immersive Entertainment. nb: interview coming soon 🙂
Artvive is an AR tool that allows artists to create new dimensions of art by linking classical with digital art, while visitors only use their smartphones or tablets in order to experience the AR layer. As such, for museums, exhibitions, galleries, Artivive offers a new way for the audience to interact with exhibitions.
Read our interview here:


CultTech debates and ideas to reflect on – future of work, investments in culture, metaverse and more :)

Craig Callhoun, American sociologist, University Professor of Social Sciences at Arizona State University

‘When we talk about Culture and Technology, we should keep in mind that this has not emerged 30 years ago in Silicon Valley’, framed by Craig Callhoun.

He reminded us that the printing press was an extraordinary CultTech – when it was first deployed by Guttemberg. In addition there have been a variety of transformative moments in the relation of culture and technology. The museum itself was also a transformative cultural technology, it transformed how people engage with art.

Digital transformations will always embed contradictions, warns the professor. Digital technology increased participation in cultural making: more people were able to get involved in cultural making in one way or another. But, at the same time, it amplified various forms of manipulation for example through the clickbait attention economy. In addition, we also make many technologies that allow us to distribute immaterial culture. Depending on devices, these devices contain minerals that are on the lands of indigenous people. Another example of contradiction is the fact that we created blockchain encrypted crypto art that depends on energy consumption.

When it comes to the question of whether automation will bring more leisure and as such consumption of high culture, Craig Callhoun considers that automation won’t automatically bring leisure. Determinant is the social organization that deploys tech and deploys work. We need intelligent decisions among dilemmas and struggles.

Francesca Bria, the President of the Italian National Innovation Fund was one of the guests. She is an Italian innovation economist and information technologist who lectures at various universities and is a consultant to the United Nations and the European Commission

One of the questions she highlighted is related not only to ‘what technology can do for arts and culture, but also what kind of institutions will do that?” The institutions that we have are not equipped for this change, they are not ready to be the agents that will transform society for the future. Can we give a platform for creators, for innovators, for thinkers to transform the future?, asks Francesca Bria.

Francesca Bria highlighted the need of Europe not only to regulate big-tech, but also to create Deep-Tech champions. She acknowledged that the EU is seen as the big regulator of the digital age, and all the world is looking to Europe for antitrust law, for taxation, for regulation of data with the GDPR. But the problem of Europe is not only to do that (which EU does it pretty well) but also to show that EU can compete on technological and scientific innovation.

Reflecting on the innovations from other parts of the worlds, she admits that Innovation “does not just happen”, but it is a results of a long term thinking and the state funds, on one hand, and then the need to unleash private capacity. And artists were always part of this conversation: “You would not have the iPhone without the designers and interaction designers, they were involved in multidisciplinary teams”.

On the other hand, Boris Marte, CEO of ERSTE Stiftung, advocates that ‘art is art’ and should stay functionless.

Boris Marte is CEO of ERSTE Stiftung, prior to that being the Head of Erste HUB, the innovation centre of Erste Group. Boris Marte also held various positions in politics including being the Cultural Commissioner of the City of Vienna (1997-2001).

“Art has no function, there is no function beyond the fact that art is for itself. You cannot put art into a strategy, you cannot put the artists into a strategy. Art is functionless. And this is a giant value that we have, because it is the value of the most extended definition of freedom that a free society could get from the arts. () Everything else is design, is not there to create out of itself something that is political or scientific, that is ‘art is art’. The moment you oblige art to be in the responsibility for something different than art itself, it limits its potential immediately.

He also warned about the fact that digitalisation comes with commercialization. Digitalisation has not only an effect on how users use technology, but also on how the content is displayed. It is not just a channel, it creates a different concept of content. “The algorithm behind scaling, it shows what everybody wants to see, and then it feeds back into the content: let’s produce something that everybody wants to see. It is an uniformization engine. What you like on Facebook, it is the thing you get back. Try to like things that you don’t like, and then your Facebook feed will change dramatically” pointed out Boris Marte.

All participants highlighted the need for mechanisms that can keep talents in Europe, and can give European startups advantages to operate from here. Spotify was a European startup, but went abroad in order to grow its business. There is need for keeping talents in Europe and creating a mechanism through which gains of startups can be reinvested locally in our society, in science and technology progress. Also, the need for a common European technological infrastructure, so that startups can build on was recognised, especially with all the discussions around the Metaverse and web3.

Moreover, Francesca Bria highlighted that we should not give technology the problems of something else, of the consumption-driven capitalism which is actually unsustainable and we all talk about the need for a shift in the consumption; different algorithms are maximized to sell products. “Metaverse isn’t this one thing that will make a handful of billionaires going to Mars. Let us transform that” challenged the audience Francesca Bria.

CultTech Accelerator was initiated by the Immaterial Future Association and created in collaboration with Female Founders. It is a follow-up to Innovation Award 2021. The Award demonstrated that technological innovation is definitely happening in the culture space. The Accelerator is to support it.

If you are a CultTech Startup, stay tuned! The application process for the accelerator for Batch 3 will open soon!

Immaterial Future
A Vienna-based non-profit association. It was established in 2021 to shift our world’s growth model towards intangible production and consumption, with culture as a main vector of change. It aims to leverage culture’s huge untapped potential to positively impact every single human, breaking away from its elitist confines and becoming more accessible to all.
The first step was Immaterial Awards, organised in 2021 for innovative solutions which make culture the driver of humanity’s growth.

All photos are copyrighted by Elena Anisimova and
and can be used with the consent of the official organizer Immaterial Future (IF)

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