The SPECTRA partners were delighted to connect and exchange with a sister project, funder under the European Interconnected Ecosystem call, 4NGELS.

The  4NGELS project aims to connect business angel networks with a strong foothold in Estonia and Finland with those from Poland and Slovenia. During the course of the project, partners undertake activities to enhance understanding of how to successfully initiate cross-border angel investing in Europe and maximise the impact of investment benefits. 4NGELS brings together different stakeholders from all four innovation ecosystems (including angel networks from Estonia (EstBAN), Finland (FiBAN) – with the business angel networks from the less advanced innovation territories – Poland (Cobin Angels) and Slovenia (BAS)) and startups and other wider innovation ecosystem stakeholders from Europe, to facilitate connections and knowledge exchange. Coordinated by CIVITTA EESTI AS from Estonia, other partners include MTU EESTI ARIINGLITE ASSOTSIATSIOON (Estonia), FINNISH BUSINESS ANGELS NETWORK RY (Finland), COBINANGELS SPOLKA Z OGRANICZONA ODPOWIEDZIALNOSCIA (Poland) and KLUB POSLOVNI ANGELI SLOVENIJE (Slovenia).

Potential for collaboration and synergies were discussed, with particular commonalities detected surrounding the activities planned under the Work Package 4 of SPECTRA ‘Inclusivity of Financiers and enhanced Access to Finance’, led by Media Deals.

Potential SPECTRA-led areas of common participation/grounds for learning and exchange were identified as:
• Investor forum at the beginning of June (at the Creative Business Cup in Copenhagen).
• Online investor workshop (September) to bring together novice and experienced investors.
• Sprint and pitch events for startups (September/October).

For 4NGELS the main activities are that can act as catalyst for collaboration:
• Collaboration with the Business Angels Slovenia syndicate.
• Collaborating with the Polish ecosystem in August (Open Call for startups to participate in the training and potential to be selected for the syndicate, Investor training and networking programme, including a study visit to Poland, investment run).
• Investment ecosystem guidebooks – first one will be completed in Q3.

We are looking forward to our continued discussions and collaboration.

More information on the 4Angels project can be found here.

We are at the brink of a revolutionary era in Artificial Intelligence, and those who do not adapt quickly to this new wave, risk being left behind.

As a part of the ‘T5.4 Joint Experimentation: Creative Reduction of Carbon Footprint’ in partnership with the PorterShed team, a GenAI Hackathon will help stakeholders unleash the power of AI without writing a single line of code.

Join us at the PorterShed in Galway, Ireland on June 21-22 for a groundbreaking event where innovation meets practicality.

Whether you are an AI-powered startup, a company that wants to leverage AI tools for product or operational excellence, or AI-curious and new to the startup community, come along to solve the sustainability challenges.

With inspirational speakers, lightning talks from AI-power users, and experienced mentors embedded in each team, this is your playground to collaborate, co-create, and grow.

Who is it for:
– AI-Enabled: Startups leveraging AI, aiming to deepen their tech impact.
– AI-Curious: Startups at the AI adoption threshold, seeking direction.
– AI Experts & Power Users: Experts ready to guide, innovate, and inspire the AI journey.

SPECTRA Challenge: How might AI be leveraged to address environmental issues such as waste, water pollution, monitoring water and air quality etc.


Friday 21 June
– 17:30 – 18:00 Registration & Kick Off
– 18:00 – 20:00: Challenges, Team formation, Fireside Chat

Saturday 22 June
– 8:30: Innovation Space opens
– 9:00 – 12:30: Team building, Lightning talks, Mentor auction
– 12:30 – 13:15: Lunch
– 13:15 – 18:00: Lightning Talks, Mentor deep dive, Demo Time, Winners announced.

All those interested can register here:

On the 16th May, SPECTRA participated in the webinar on the topic of Lump Sum Funding in Horizon Europe: How does it work? How to write a proposal?

The SPECTRA project was funded under the innovative lump sum grant agreement, under Horizon Europe under the European Interconnected Ecosystem call and had the opportunity to share the experience of this model during the livestreamed webinar session. The session included practical aspects explaining the framework and process, presented by programme experts, as well as a line of panelists with the practical experience of the model.

SPECTRA was represented by the Western Development Commission’s Helena Deane, as the coordinators of SPECTRA. Helena relayed the positive experience of the model, highlighting the benefits of the delivery focused approach and reflecting on the particulars regarding the proposal development.

The session has been recorded and can be viewed in full here:

Over 500 attendees participated in viewing of the live stream.

SPECTRA JOINT EXPERIMENTATION “Green Transformation: Reducing Fashion’s Footprint” takes place in Ruse, Bulgaria on April 30, 2024

Organized by SPECTRA partner BIC Innobridge and the APECTRA associate partner Ruse Chamber of Commerce and Industry as part of the SPECTRA project, the session tackled a critical issue: the environmental impact of the textile and fashion industry.

The event kicked off with the hosts presenting the SPECTRA project and its achievements thus far, setting the stage for a collaborative discussion. Joining the conversation was Mrs. Veneta Petrova, a representative of a clothing company in Ruse. Mrs. Petrova shed light on the significant carbon footprint of the textile industry, a reality often hidden behind the glamour of the fashion world.

However, the focus quickly shifted from problems to possibilities. More than 20 enthusiastic young students from the Vocational School of Fashion and Design actively participated in the discussion, eager to explore solutions. Business representatives also joined the dialogue, acknowledging the need for a greener industry.

The conversation delved deep into the challenges of textile pollution, exploring potential solutions through the lens of circular economy principles. Examples of successful sustainable practices from around the world were shared, serving as inspiration for the Ruse community. EU regulations and legislation related to sustainability in fashion were also discussed, providing a framework for moving forward.

This “joint experimentation,” as the event was aptly titled, went beyond simply identifying problems. The core focus was on how young people, the future creators and designers of the industry, envision a greener fashion landscape. By fostering collaboration between established businesses, students, and industry leaders, the event sparked creative thinking and a sense of ownership for a more sustainable future and created new linkages.

The SPECTRA project, through events like this, empowers the Ruse creative community to embrace innovation and navigate the path toward a more sustainable future for fashion. With the creative energy and fresh perspectives of its young minds, Ruse is well on its way to stitching a greener future for the industry.

The innovative SPECTRA workshop took place in Ruse, Bulgaria on 12.04.2024, organized by the Business Innovation Center Innobridge and the Ruse Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The event brought together over 15 companies from Ruse’s diverse business landscape. From clothing manufacturers and construction companies to TV and motoped parts producers, participants engaged in a stimulating exploration of green innovation and creative decision making using the unconventional yet powerful tool of LEGO Serious Play.

The huddle featured a special guest, Engineer Vladi Velikov, who challenged traditional decision-making approaches with an innovative method: LEGO Serious Play. This unique facilitation technique utilizes LEGO bricks as a storytelling and problem-solving tool. By building physical models and collaboratively discussing them, participants tap into their creativity and unlock new perspectives on complex challenges.

The focus of the Ruse webinar was on “green ideas and creativity in action,” particularly within the context of sustainability. Companies across various industries are increasingly recognizing the importance of adopting environmentally friendly practices. This webinar aimed to equip participants with the tools and inspiration to navigate this shift towards a greener and more sustainable future.

LEGO Serious Play proved to be a powerful catalyst for fostering creative thinking and collaboration. By manipulating the LEGO bricks, participants were able to:

  • Visualize Green Solutions: Companies from different sectors in Ruse business community explored how to integrate sustainability into their operations. Clothing manufacturers brainstormed ways to use recycled materials, while construction firms envisioned eco-friendly building techniques. This visual representation of ideas facilitated open discussion and encouraged participants to think outside the box.
  • Break Down Silos: The hands-on nature of LEGO Serious Play created a collaborative environment where participants from different departments and companies could work together. This cross-pollination of ideas fostered a sense of shared purpose and led to the emergence of innovative solutions.
  • Challenge the Status Quo: Engineer Velikov’s approach to decision-making with LEGO challenged traditional brainstorming methods. By stepping away from whiteboards and presentations, participants were able to approach problems with a fresh perspective, leading to more creative and sustainable solutions.

The Ruse workshop served as a successful example of how businesses can leverage innovation and creativity to embrace sustainability. By utilizing unconventional tools like LEGO Serious Play, companies can unlock their employees’ full potential and pave the way for a greener future.

The SPECTRA project, through events like this workshops, helps empower businesses in Ruse to embrace innovation and creativity and navigate the path toward a more sustainable future. By fostering collaboration and creative problem-solving, SPECTRA also equips companies with the tools they need to thrive in today’s ever-evolving business landscape.

5 selected companies take part in the first SPECTRA Sprint session on 27th March

Applications were invited to participate in the inaugural ‘sprint and pitch’ activity, led by SPECTRA partner Media Deals via the F6S platform open call. 5 companies were selected through panel evaluation comprising the SPECTRA partnership. 2 of the selected companies are based in Bulgaria, 2 in Ireland and 1 in Germany, as follows (in no particular order):

  2. Aria Classical
  3. One Two All OOD
  4. Great Island Productions
  5. PromtPad.

In this first session, the companies got to pitch in front of Thierry Baujard of Media Deals. Thierry is a co-founder of SpielFabrique and offers a unique expertise in funding strategy for the creative industries. He is also director of Media Deals which is a pan-European investment network of private investors. Furthermore, he is the project Director of the European Co-Production market.


He is also CEO of peacefulfish, a consultancy specialised in the financing of the content industry.

He offers 20+ years’ experience in the communication and entertainment industry. He was also Project Director of EU project ImMediaTe looking at financial mechanisms for digital media between 5 European clusters (Barcelona, Rome, Malta, Paris, and Amsterdam) and now for the new DG Connect project European Investors Gate. He has been working on different creative industries funds for the film, Music and Video games sectors. Thierry is a regular speaker at conferences and summit on content and technology as well as an expert for the European Commission on regulations for investment in the digital sector and member of the Investment Club EIT KIC CCSI.

Media Deals is a pan-European investor network gathering business angels and early-stage venture capital funds focusing on Creative Industries and digital media. Since its creation in 2008, Media Deals has been promoting and encouraging early-stage equity investment in high-growth startup companies in the following fields/sectors: Audiovisual, Digital Tools, Disruptive models and cutting edge media technologies.

Media Deals organises European Investment Forums in a range of European countries, providing opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors to meet up and discuss investment and partnership possibilities. The forums also provide the right environment for companies to brainstorm with entrepreneurs working in the creative industries and digital media sector from other European regions as well as to discuss investment and partnership possibilities with financiers specialised in the sector. Additionally, companies receive individual training from experts in the sector and are offered the chance to pitch to investors from the Media Deals network.

The companies received constructive feedback, had a forum to ask questions and received valuable insights on the mindsets of investors, tips on pitching, what to look for in an investor, etc.

The follow-up ‘pitch’ session with a panel of investors, will take place on 23rd April.

SPECTRA partner CREW hosts the project meeting activities and visiting SPECTRA partners from Bulgaria, Germany and Denmark, that participated in and supported the inaugural Irish Creative Business Cup as part of the SPECTRA activities

The SPECTRA partners had the opportunity to visit the brand new CREW Headquarters, situated on the campus along the Atlantic Technological University in Galway on 20th and 21st March 2024.

CREW is Ireland’s first Innovation Hub and Business Incubator focused on accelerating the development of innovative entrepreneurs in the Creative Industries including film, tv, gaming, animation, immersive, virtual production, and creative technologies. The CREW Creative Enterprise Hub will serve as a regional centre for the Creative Industries, delivering programmes and masterclasses in entrepreneurship to founders from the West Region. The hub will also provide meetup spaces and innovation areas for the Creative Industries welcoming industry experts, hosting meetups and networking events.


Along with planning detailed project activities and spending time evaluating the applications from the recently promoted ‘sprint and pitch’ competition on F6S, the partners also had the opportunity to participate in and support the first ever Irish Creative Business Cup. The competition came about through working with the SPECTRA partner Creative Business Network, who run the global network of Creative Business Cup competitions, held by national partners in 80+ countries.

Mersus Technologies Pitches at the Irish CBC Final

The winner of the inaugural Irish Creative Business Cup, a global event held at the CREW Creative Enterprise and Innovation Hub in Galway on March 20th. Five shortlisted companies were invited to the final to pitch their innovative Creative Industries Startups to an international jury of experts and investors.

Grá Chocolates, Winner of the Irish Creative Business Cup with the Jury members

After rigorous evaluation, the jury, which included the SPECTRA partner Media Deals, has declared Grá Chocolates as the winner of the Irish Creative Business Cup, positioning them to represent Ireland in the Global Finals scheduled for June in Copenhagen.

Throughout the competition, finalists were connected with international mentors and advisors, offering invaluable guidance in refining business models, scaling operations, and navigating the global market. This mentorship program played a pivotal role in fostering the growth and success of the participating startups.

Furthermore, the winner gains access to the prestigious global Creative Business Academy, offering unparalleled support for internationalising their business. Membership provides resources, networking opportunities, and guidance to expand reach and impact on a global scale, solidifying their position as a leader in the creative industry. The initiative has been one of the good practices shared as part of the SPECTRA.

The Irish Creative Business Cup was made possible through collaboration and partnership between the SPECTRA coordinator, the Western Development Commission and CREW, who are the national host for Ireland.

The Bulgarian SPECTRA partner BIC Innobridge have held their first national Creative Business Cup only recently, and this enabled further exchange of experience with the SPECTRA partners during the Irish meet-up.

During the two days, the SPECTRA partners also engaged in networking activities, meeting and interacting with a range of regional and national stakeholders, including SMEs, enterprise agencies, university representatives, industry experts and others.

The SPECTRA partners are looking forward to the upcoming stakeholder and investor forum in Copenhagen, Denmark in June, when the Creative Business Network will host the global finals.

We are inviting creative start-ups to participate in sprint session with real investors, culminating in an investment pitch

Who should Apply

We are targeting startup companies in the audio-visual, music,  gaming, animation, and immersive technologies and performing arts space with B2B and B2C creative value propositions. We are primarily targeting startups from Ireland, Bulgaria, Germany and Denmark.

What is on Offer

The sprint & pitch enables those who are relatively new to investor engagement to learn from real investors about what the investors in these sectors are looking for and to get valuable investor feedback on the pitch propositions, in order to enable companies to perfect their pitching, make new connections and accelerate their fundraising journey. The applicants should be at the pre-seed or seed stage and look to raise €250,000-750,000 in their next round.

Key Dates

Opening of Call: 20/02/2024
Closing of Call: 15/03/2024
Evaluation/Notification by 21/03/2024
Sprint workshop with SPECTRA investment experts 27/03/2024 2-4pm CEST
Preparation of pitch decks by participants
Pitches in front of SPECTRA investor panel & feedback 23/04 2-4pm CEST.

How to Apply

The call is now live on

Follow-on opportunities include becoming part of a global community of creative start-ups and access to new skills, challenges, mentors and investors.

The call is part of the programme of supports under Horizon Europe funded SPECTRA project.

As a part of the effort to facilitate Inclusive, Diverse Ecosystems SPECTRA partners sought to specifically address intra-territorial exchange of experience and good practices to enhance the European dimension of the target ecosystems.

They looked at best practice examples from across Europe and pin-pointed specific learning from the lead innovator regions in Germany and Denmark, supporting a common strategy with appropriate solutions to respond to thematic challenges and to support innovative creative economy businesses with involvement of ecosystems as catalysts for innovation.

The resulting deliverable, in addition to research of best practice, reflects on the 2 SPECTRA virtual panel discussions held during August 2023, which focused on the following 2 topics:
1. Stimulating internal innovation and use of experimentation
2. Ecosystem as an open innovation platform, utilizing inclusivity, and diversity as a key enabler.

The learnings have been evaluated, and recommendations generated to inform future decision-making.

The outcomes and conclusions of these activities have been summarised in a report, to enable dissemination, and knowledge enhancement of stakeholders as well as replication. The report can be downloaded on this website under the resources page, and is titled D2.2 Best Practice Examples and Evaluation.


In order for the creative industries to continue to bring prosperity to Europe, it must now become the accelerator and enabler of change and innovation in a human-centric way that can support and empower, among other, the covenants of the green and digital transition, and the transformative impact on society.

The research undertaken by SPECTRA, in addition to research of trends, reflects on:

  • approaches to business support
  • Integration of solutions in a way that maximises value.
  • Appropriate knowledge and interventions.
  • Understanding of linkages of various ecosystem actors and activities.
  • Identification of suitable role-models and peer communities.

The relevant innovation directions and trends can be incorporated into the growth and strategic vision of the ecosystem development. This includes consideration of the future need for co-creation processes with all relevant stakeholders.

A report has been produced as an outcome of this activity, which has identified key innovation trends as: cross-sectoral collaboration, human-centric approaches, integration of digital and green transition and co-creation and societal inclusion.

The report seeks to provide a comprehensive overview of the overarching innovation directions and trends,  but these do not intend to represent an exhaustive list. They also do not exist in silos and are not intended to be considered in isolation from each other, indeed, there are many intersections between the directions and trends, and they are indeed intertwined, as well as meant to be applied with agility in mind, tailored to the challenge and ecosystem, communities, and opportunities at hand.

It is clear from the undertaken research that CCSI have a significant role to play in innovation in multiple sectors, and in facilitating inclusivity, while also contributing to the strengthening of the ecosystems, as demonstrated. Further reading and exploration of these topics is encouraged – further experimentation, piloting and demonstrative work is required to improve knowledge and learning in multiple areas.

To read the full report, you can download the full document on the resources page, titled ‘D2.3 Innovation Direction and Trends Overview and Recommendations’.