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Innovation in cultural heritage

Eugene Eteris, RSU/BC, Riga, 21.03.2018.Print version
At the Conference on Innovation and Cultural Heritage (orginised through Horizon 2020 program), the Commission presented some most promising innovations to preserve and treasure Europe's cultural heritage for the next generations. The so-called innovation pillar of the European Year of Cultural Heritage can promote the role of science and technologies in cultural heritage.

European states are facing with numerous challenges in trying to protect and benefit from its cultural heritage. Research and innovation – through use of smart technology, digitalisation and other advanced solutions – can assist to mitigate these challenges.


The European Commission revealed some actions to be taken in order to contribute to long-term synergies between science, research, innovation and culture for the benefit of cultural heritage. These include providing digital access to physically inaccessible sites, helping preserve priceless artifacts, and exploring new ways of valuing cultural heritage for creative industries, to name a few.


Commission’s view on “innovative cultural heritage”

The Commission previously underlined that “cultural heritage consists of cultural and creative resources of a tangible or intangible nature, with a value for society that has been publicly recognised in order to preserve them for future generations. It includes natural, built and archaeological sites, museums, monuments, artworks, historic cities, literary, musical, audiovisual and digital works, and the knowledge, practices and traditions of European citizens”. See more in:

Over 300,000 people are already employed in the member states’ cultural heritage sector, and with 453 inscribed sites, European region accounts for almost half of UNESCO's World Heritage List. In addition, 7.8 million jobs in the EU are indirectly linked to heritage, e.g. through tourism, interpretation and security.

With this in mind, and especially at a time when cultural treasures are under threat and are being deliberately destroyed in conflict zones, the Commission considered that cultural heritage deserved a European Year in 2018; the decision was adopted in May 2017).


Commissioners’ opinion

Several Commissioners commented on the innovative approaches to cultural heritage. Thus,Commissioner Navracsics in charge of education and culture said that it has been the states’ responsibility to preserve cultural heritage for the next generations. Research and innovation can offer advanced solutions and technologies to achieve this. During the present European Year of Cultural Heritage the Commission highlighted long-term projects aimed at protecting and promoting heritage.

Commissioner Moedas, in charge of research, sciences and innovation underlined that protecting cultural heritage research and innovation provided “limitless source where traditions meet with cutting-edge technologies”. He stressed that the EU’s ambition was “to make Europe the world leader in heritage-based innovation with support from Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation funding programme”.

Commissioner Gabriel, in charge of digital economy and society, stressed that “technological and digital innovations have had a unique potential because they facilitate the access to national heritage in a way that has never been achieved in our history”. She mentioned, e.g. the online platform Europeana, which was not just a digital vault that preserved cultural heritage but a channel and an open door to peoples’ past, present and future."Through Europeana, citizens and the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs) can access European culture for the widest possible variety of purposes. See more in:


Innovation in cultural heritage research

In the Commission’s policy review “Innovation in Cultural Heritage Research”, it assessed the EU-funded research on cultural heritage and proposed improvements to the European Research Framework after 2020. More in the brochure “Innovation in cultural heritage” at: 

During 2014- 20, the EU is investing about €500 million in research and innovation on cultural heritage. The so-called innovation pillar of the European Year of Cultural Heritage consists of three projects (run by the Commission, the EU states, the Council of Europe and European universities) to improve Europeans' skills on cultural heritage, involve citizens in making better decisions about cultural heritage, and promote the role of science and technologies in cultural heritage.


More information in: = European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018; = Horizon 2020 High-Level Conference on Innovation and Cultural Heritage; = Video: Europe's Cultural Heritage; = Infographic: Science, innovation and cultural heritage. General source: Commission press release (20.03.2018):

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