THIS WAS THE SANDBOX HUB – CYCLE 1

I am thrilled! Today, Thursday February 8th our Sandbox Hub officially starts. If you know that many broadcasters are already working on media innovation, but that their expertise and learnings are not systematically shared, then you will understand why the creation of our Sandbox Hub is a milestone. In doing so, we are building a European network on media innovation, sharing our (innovative) knowledge and giving local startups a stepping stone to scale faster and more efficiently in Europe.
France TV, Swedish Radio and BBC are the first to join our network. We have therefore invited them to a two-day immersion at VRT Sandbox.

After welcoming the invitees, we start with a short introduction about VRT Sandbox and presentations of four of our startup collaborations:

  • Azilpix & Canvas tell us how Azilpix’ multi-camera video capture and production system contributed to the broadcast of “Thomas speelt het hard” on Canvas. Philippe from Azilpix concludes the following “Thanks to VRT Sandbox we’re able to test our system in a real broadcast production in a fail safe environment and that was very valuable for us”. (http://www.azilpix.com/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_wJHUEOiYE&t=4s )
  • Selma.ai & Eén give us more insights on the data driven targetting in newsletters project that they have just started through VRT Sandbox. (https://selma.ai/ )
  • Tinkerlist & Stubru. Tinkerlist is a unified platform for creative television makers and together they explain how Tinkerlist also created added value during Studio Brussels’ “De Warmste week”. (http://tinkerlist.website)
  • SensifAI & our archive department talk about how artificial intelligence can be used for understanding video. (https://www.sensifai.com/ )

After lunch Dieter, VRT’s Innovation manager, shares (and explains) his 5 VRT Sandbox learnings: no pain no gain, first do then tell, asap? as slow as possible, accelerate > incubate + match & support (that scales).
Karel talks about Video Snackbar and how this project is used to support webvideo makers and next generation media workflows. He also explains why VRT Sandbox encourages intrapreneurship through the example of Renaud Schoonbroodt who created a complete and stable studio environment in one program that you can run on an iPad. It is not only the intention to replace the known radio studio, but also to rethink the workflows. The first tests will take place in summer.
The guests also give a presentation on how they approach innovation as a broadcaster. Frédéric from France TV mentions, among other things, Cognik, specialized in content discovery and personal recommendation (www.cognik.net ) and ToonYou, cartoon series for kids that can be customized online (https://toonyou.com/uk/ ). Linda and Malin from The Swedish Radio talk about their innovative projects and their 3 innovation principles: being everywhere, innovation culture (find new and smarter ways to collaborate together) and smarter packaging (content for every channel). Judy from BBC explains how BBC Taster is a place to launch experiments and get easy feedback and rich data insights. An example is the new format Your story, a personalized story of your life, generated using your Facebook data in combination with BBC News archived content. (https://www.bbc.co.uk/taster/pilots/yourstory ) Also interesting is Glastonbury Shuffle, a smart video playlist of all BBC’s Glastonbury 2015 acts: stick with an act and Shuffle thinks you like it, twist and it knows you don’t. ( https://www.bbc.co.uk/taster/pilots/glastonbury-shuffle )

Tatjana gives the strategic programmes of VRT Innovation R&D: co creation & interaction, personalized content and new content (production) technologies & workflows. A very successful example is the Wall of Moments app. (http://www.wallofmoments.be/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1f7GH0O5m4 )
Before the end of the day Rik from our purchasing department explains why the new law on innovative partnership can be useful for broadcasters willing to work with startups. And Mick, Technology and Operations Director at VRT, tells us why support from the board is necessary when creating your own Sandbox and how we make sure VRT Sandbox experiments don’t disturb the political market.
After these interesting sessions we raise our glasses to our new collaboration and we enjoy lots of delicious Italian food.
The next morning Omar Mohout, the Belgian startup specialist, gives us an overview of the Euopean mediatech ecosystem in Europe. We learn the differences between start-ups and scale-ups, that current hypes as blockchain are overhyped (in mediatech anyway, only 2% of that is happening right now), that universities are not focussing on mediatech at all, and so on. More info on how start-ups can turn ideas into action in Omar’s book: https://www.diekeure.be/nl-be/professional/8066/from-idea-to-product-market-fit

Hans Hoffman, Senior manager Media Technology at EBU tells us more about broadcaster innovation strategies or more concretely disruptive changes in the industries, how to develop innovation strategies across organisations and their impact on skills, teams and the organisation itself. Hans concludes that innovation must create value, it comes from listening to your audiences and that the best innovation team is a combination of topexperts and networkers.
Gregg talks about VR versus broadcasting and gives some examples. Wonen.tv is one of these examples. Wouter from Cousteau explains how they created the low profile webVR platform for our TV channel Eén.
After lunch the Sandbox Hub team sits together for a workshop with Chris, an external facilitator, to determine the further action plan of the Sandbox Hub: what do we communicate, how and where do we do that, how often, what should the outcomes be, and so on.

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We end our two-day session with a VRT tour through different studios and of course by taking a look at Brussels from the top of our VRT tower. Despite the fog, it is a nice ending of a successful event.

View our short aftermovie below: