Transdigital was born out of necessity, curiosity and with the conviction that it can become a platform for the exchange of knowledge that transcends the borders between different sectors. It is more than a workplace for artists, more than a think tank for scientists and more than a creative source for companies. Transdigital holds seminars in the three regions, organises workshops and master classes and integrates the gathered knowledge in productions and projects. Transdigital is a permanent, boundary-breaking, border-crossing and hybrid lab and platform, a green engine for technological development, driven by three regions, fed from three sectors, a catalyst for technological potential and creative talent.
As part of the technology/industrial clusters (Euratechnologie, Virtualis, Up-Tex, IBBT- I-Cubes, Kennisregio East Flanders/Gent local council ...), the various city regions have developed their own research and development clusters across the trans-regional territory.
In Wallonia, the Bergen/Mons region is seen to focus on interactive television (NeuroTV) and slow motion technology (I Movix), sound synthesis (Acapela) and electronic stringed instruments (Numediart).
The East Flanders / Ghent region is asserting itself as a hub for new communication technology with a cross-sector cluster of projects and businesses involved in the research and development of broadband technology (IBBT), business incubators in new media technology (I-Cubes) and biotechnology research (Ghent Bio Energy Valley).
The Lille-Tourcoing metropolis focuses its attentions on cross-media platforms, web technology, nanotechnology and intelligent textiles (involving Digiport and Eura Technologies as just two of several).
In quite a few cases, these research centres and the businesses have built themselves an international reputation already. The fields of research in the various regions stand in mutual complement. What they share however is their hi-tech purview. In turn, this has seen major players operating in the innovative technology field arriving to set up shop in the Interreg region at a fast pace. For now though, there appears to be little in the way of interaction between these growth centres. Collaborative efforts and the exchange of know-how are largely confined to the region itself with language differences remaining an obstacle.
On the other hand, there are the artists who are increasingly turning to new technologies in devising projects and productions, and who are finding it very hard to gain access to hi-tech applications or to find support for their own research into the operational use of technology applications in their chosen field of activity.
Under a previous Interreg project, the CECN-Mons was made to find that there is a great need for collaboration, both among the artists and among researchers, developers and technology businesses. The CECN also came to the realisation that a number of projects can be accomplished only by joining forces across the borders. Because of their very specific approach, artists are also able to prompt researchers and businesses to view technology applications from a different angle, thereby contributing to new developments or products. This type of projects goes to show that artists too rightfully deserve to be included in the design of research and innovation policies. Various projects and productions by artists and TRANSDIGITAL partners have already been fashioned after this mould, on the intersection between art, science and business: Daniel Danis (Le Fresnoy, CECN, Numediart), Gilles Jobin (Latitudes Contemporaines), Eric Joris/Crew (Vooruit, CECN, IBBT). To date, these have largely been standalone initiatives, tailored to suit the demands of a particular artist, research institute, or private company.
There is an urgent need for a platform where these efforts can be sustained, where synergies can be actively pursued, where know-how can be shared and exchanged, where innovation can be lifted across the region's borders and where this Interregional dynamic can be bolstered.
There is also a need for a higher international profile, both for the artists, the researchers, and the businesses involved, but particularly for the technology that is being developed.
Finally, there is a need for a network of partner organisations from the world of art, research and the world of trade and industry who are all pulling in the same direction.
The research institutes that have aligned themselves with TRANSDIGITAL have each built an international reputation for themselves. The same applies to their cultural counterparts: the presentations and projects that are being set up in Le Fresnoy, Latitudes Contemporaines, le manège.mons, le manege.maubeuge and Vooruit Arts Centre are enjoying considerable international resonance. It is this very balance and international recognition that will provide TRANSDIGITAL with all the appropriate strong suits to become a successful project.