SPECTRA Study Visit to Berlin

SPECTRA partner attended a study visit, hosted by the German partner Media Deals, during 9th and 10th November 2023.

On the first day of the study visit to the Berlin Ecosystem the partner learning activities kicked-off with the meeting with Marte Hentschel- Co CEO of VORN- Fashion Hub situated at Bikini Berlin.

VORN – the Berlin fashion hub is offering space for collaborations for positive impact within the fashion industry and culture. It is a physical and digital place in the heart of Berlin, where innovations for a sustainable development of the fashion industry are collaboratively designed, communicated and implemented. As a registered cooperative, our focus is on the profitable business of a community. Their four programs Community Services, Innovation Lab, Scaling Program and Coworking Space create a pre-competitive environment for positive impact in the fashion industry: they are a marketplace for curated services. Their goal is an economically successful circularity in the fashion and textile industry as well as taking social responsibility and reducing CO₂ emissions. VORN is commissioned and co-funded by the Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises.

This was followed by a meeting with Berlin Partner at the Industrie- und Handelskammer zu Berlin (IHK Berlin), the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Berlin (CCI Berlin). Berlin Partner works on economic growth, promotes business, technology and innovation, and presents the advantages of the capital to companies, investors and talents.

Berlin Partner supports companies and scientific institutions that are already established in the region in their expansion plans and connects them within the strong Berlin Partner network. In addition, Berlin Partner’s experts provide information on funding opportunities and advise on the search for suitable locations or highly qualified personnel. Berlin Partner’s successes are measured by a range of indicators: the focus is on the number of jobs that can be newly created or secured in Berlin with the support of Berlin Partner. In addition, it is worth taking a look at the investment volume and third-party funds raised. In the last year 2022, 8389 new jobs were created in just the 239 projects we successfully managed. In the process, around 1100 million Euro were invested and third-party funding of 140.1 million Euro was raised for research and development. Specifically, Networks and funding for Berlin based creative companies were discussed.

Highlights discussed included:

  • Headquarters of Axel Springer AG, Universal Music Germany, Paramount, Wooga, elt, DW TV, rbb, Netflix, Sony Deutschland, Zalando
  • Berlin as an International event location: Berlinale, German Film Awards,Gamesweek , Deutscher Computerspielpreis , re:publica
  • Film location for numerous national and international productions
  • Germany’s music capital with an annual turnover of 700 million
  • Most varied newspaper region and Germany’s strongest publishing location
  • A hotspot for the international games industry and e sports companies.

Twice a year, Berlin Fashion Week brings fashion lovers and the fashion industry together. Numerous companies from the media landscape have settled in Berlin. All of the major international broadcasters, news agencies, and editorial offices are represented here. Various universities, research facilities and institutes form a unique science and training landscape.

The introduction of the Berlin Partner was also accompanied by a presentation on the activities of the European Enterprise Network. The Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) helps businesses innovate and grow on an international scale. It is the world’s largest support network for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with international ambitions. The Network is active worldwide. It brings together experts from member organisations that are renowned for their excellence in business support.

Member organisations include:

  • chambers of commerce and industry
  • regional development organisations
  • universities and research institutes
  • innovation agencies.

These informative and interactive sessions were followed up by a consortium meeting where SPECTRA partners discussed the project progress and forward planning with a particular focus on Work Package 4, investor and start-up pitching activities.

Following the conclusion of the meeting on the project management activities, the SPECTRA partners had the opportunity to hear from and interact with Spielfabrique Professionalization programs presentation where Julia Krüger and Melanie Seifart presented on this initiative.

SpielFabrique stems from a Franco-German video game initiative created in April 2015 by Media Deals at the French Embassy on the occasion of the International Games Week Berlin. As a catalyst for the video game ecosystem, they bring together all industry stakeholders to create greater understanding, knowledge, and collaboration. From mentoring indie game studios looking to bring their first game to market or established indie studios looking to scale up, to its consulting business towards public entities, SpielFabrique has built a comprehensive understanding of the video game ecosystem. Their goal is to stimulate international activity and strengthen ecosystems. Their annual pan-European programme comprises 6 intense months of workshops, networking, and 1-on-1 mentoring. The programme helps participants make the leap from having a functioning prototype to becoming a financially independent and successful studio.

Their supports include:

  • international mentoring programs for indie games studios.
  • Empowering Development – boosting video games development through mentoring and networking.
  • Global Market Advisory – advising institutions, funds, and studios to develop their international market.
  • Globalizing Local Gaming – making local gaming ecosystem international.

Finally, at the end of day 1, SPECTRA Partners attended a networking event and dinner at the Games Ground Conference 2023. This included a meeting with Medianet’s Florian Masuth. Medianet berlinbrandenburg eV is a network association for the media, creative and digital industries. Medianet, together with the members of the network, politics, business, and science, creates cooperation on an equal footing in the Berlin-Brandenburg metropolitan region and beyond national borders. Medianet strengthens the locations as employer regions. Medianet is an impetus, supporter, doer and connects actors in an interdisciplinary manner on the common path to the digital future.

In addition to regular training opportunities for members’ employees, they cooperate with universities, integrate market drivers of future technologies and record the business climate in the capital region with the annual medien.barometer.
On day 2 of the study visit, the SPECTRA partners travelled to Potsdam to visit Studio Babelsberg.

Studio Babelsberg is one of Europe’s largest film studio complexes, offering 21 state-of-the-art sound stages, flexible backlots and vast production facilities on a 42-acre lot. Take advantage of our exceptional production services, internationally experienced crews, and the diversity of attractive film locations, only a few steps from the vibrant city of Berlin that make Studio Babelsberg one of the most attractive film and TV production sites in Europe. In 2018, Potsdam is classified as MediaTech Hub. Volucap at Studio Babelsberg, the first volumetric capture studio on the European continent, is one of its flagships. The circular studio, equipped with 32 cameras, makes immersive VR and AR projects possible.

SPECTRA project partners had the opportunity to meet with the MediaTech Hub and Volucap.
The MediaTech Hub (MTH) Potsdam is the umbrella under which MTH bundles their community, projects and activities. They are all interconnected and interlocked – be it in their startup programmes like the MTH Accelerator or the MTH Space as well as their annual conference. With all the projects, MTH pursues a goal of further advancing the media tech ecosystem and shaping a more efficient, inclusive, and creative future. The SPECTRA partners benefited from meeting Andrea Wickleder, CEO
The MediaTech Hub Potsdam is the only digital hub in Germany with a focus on media technology. It makes media technology innovations from Potsdam visible, strengthens entrepreneurship and connects actors from the network and beyond (CONNECT!). Developing media-tech ideas and business models (DEVELOP!) is what the MTH Accelerator encourages young founders to do. It is the sparring partner for start-up teams in the early phase. The programme was initiated by the Hasso Plattner Institute, the Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF and the University of Potsdam. In the heart of Babelsberg, the media city, MTH have created a space for media tech start-up teams. In the MTH Space, ideas and innovations are realised (DO!). Media technologies pave the way for every business. The MTH Conference brings together new ideas and business models, international perspectives and groundbreaking applications to think ahead together (THINK!). In an increasingly digital world, Knowledge Transfer is an essential factor for the ability to innovate and thus the key for business competitiveness and success. The MTH Innovator identifies itself as an MediaTech enabler and creates the framework conditions, in which MediaTech innovations can be introduced and applied in SMEs (MOVE!).

Following this very insightful presentation of MTH, SPECTRA project were treated to a visit to the attendance of the Volucap volumetric studio and interaction based in Babelsberg Park. Volumetric studio opened in Babelsberg just outside Berlin in 2018, driven by a high-profile consortium. New stereoscopic depth technology enables innovative forms of presentation for film and media beyond entertainment. Actress Emilia Schüle (known from Ku’damm 59, Traumfabrik) was the first person to be recorded in the volumetric studio at the opening.

The studio is located on 170 square meters in the fx.center on the grounds of Studio Babelsberg and is equipped with 32 cameras, which are installed all around on a nearly 4 meter high light rotunda. People and objects can be scanned three-dimensionally and lifelike in the room. The corresponding basic technology was specially developed by Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute. The previous prototype of the volumetric video studio is for laboratory use only and has been in operation since October 2017. The installed software “3D Human Body Reconstruction” does not create digital avatars but creates hologram-like representations of real people that can be processed like computer-generated models. The actors recorded in this way can be placed in real and virtual worlds. It is also possible for spectators to enter the world with the help of VR technology and view the events and the person photographed or the object photographed from every possible angle.

The latest development of Volucap includes the possibility to produce footage underwater, and mobile studio facilities. In a custom-built underwater tank at a depth of 7 meters, it took the Volucap team 2 months to develop the world’s first volumetric underwater film studio from initial concept to successful on-set deployment.

Following this exciting experience of a company active in the Babelsberg ecosystem, SPECTRA partners, engaged with Mafalda Duarte, Head of Studio Telescope Game Studios UG. Mafalda in the addition to building a team to work at game development, is also an ambassador for Women in Games and also work for the organisation as Ambassador Coordinator. In 2022, she co-founded the Game Dev Lisbon collective with other game developers based in Lisbon, with projects such as Game Dev Camp since 2020, Spotlight Awards and most recently, Spotlight Magazine. Telescope Game Studios are a part of a trail-blazing studio group run by passionate storytellers. Utilizing cutting-edge real-time tech, they create interwoven story universes for global audiences. Their narratives span across animated films, series, games and immersive experiences with heart and soul.
Their two animation and game studios are powered by a proprietary process and Unreal Engine production pipeline and have been awarded with two MegaGrants by Epic Games, as well as an innovation grant by the European Union.
Telescope Game Studios stand for equality, diversity, and inclusion – in their projects and their team. By integrating green workflows, a no-crunch policy and remote work capabilities, they provide a sustainable, inspiring environment for creators.

The day 2 of the study visit concluded with a presentation by Prof. Dr. Björn Stockleben, Professor of Emerging Media Production. Head of Studies Film- and TV Production Programme, Co-Head of Creative Exchange Studio (CX Studio) at the Filmuniversität Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF, together with Jörn Krug, the Project manager of the start-up service & MOVE2startup. The Babelsberg Film University is a lively place for film; it stands for a variety of materials and forms, genres and formats, for specialization and exchange. In their unique trade-oriented and interdisciplinary training, creative personalities develop their filmmaking attitude. They teach and research both scientifically and artistically and thus actively shape the development of media, science and society. In research, the film university pursues a variety of topics, approaches and projects that can be assigned to seven major research fields.

The partners were also part of a deep-dive into the University’s ecosystem, getting a sense of partnerships, collaborations, and networks, as well as funding supports, sponsorships and projects, an example being MOVE2startup, which is the laboratory for creativity-based entrepreneurship at the Babelsberg Film University. The lab promotes creative originality as a basis for media innovations. This looks at the impact on the creative industry and well beyond it. A wide variety of disciplines work together as teams on innovative solutions, facilitated by a strong international and regional partner network to support the start-up projects.

More detail about this study visit and lessons learned, can be found on the resources page, in the published deliverable.