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Starts, the EU project for creating a dialog between science and art, is the “polytechnic Odyssey”

The project, called Starts, was created in EU offices and is all about innovation. Aside from its pertinent literal meaning (starts are necessary for innovation), its true charm derives from the fact that it is an acronym for words full of meaning and value: science, technology and arts.  Pierluigi Sacco spoke about it recently in “Il Sole24Ore”, in reference to a meeting held in late June organized by the “Connect” General Management of the Brussels Commission and attended by top companies and institutions such as Ars Electronica of Linz, the Department of Interactive Strategies of Dassault Systèmes, Transmediale, Ircam, Ubiquitous Commons, and Superglue, among others. The topic at hand was to explore the true potential in the dialog between art, culture, and technology and to understand how to create spaces so that this dialog finds adequate expression in EU strategies and, in particular, in programs for research and innovation such as Horizon 2020.

Fortunately, Brussels has acknowledged  the value of the “polytechnic Odyssey” that has been mentioned several times in this blog: of companies’ need for far-sighted and highly skilled engineer-philosophers as valuable human capital and, more generally speaking, of Italian society’s need to mend the fracture between the “two cultures” and to recover values dear to our heritage such as humanistic philosophy  and scientific thought, rebuilding – in these days of widespread, sophisticated high-tech knowledge – an authentic “polytechnic culture” that makes Italy and Europe more educated, more civil and, thanks to this synthesis, more competitive.

Also participating in Starts were American scientists such as Roger Malina, a leading astrophysicist and the director of “Leonardo Publications” at MIT in Boston, which is an indication of a possible fruitful dialog between the EU and the USA. Pierluigi Sacco said, “The outcome of these days is quite encouraging. The next step is preparing collaborative  models between artists and scientists that can be tested and gradually perfected to build a new ‘toolbox’ entirely created for multi-disciplinary work. The development phase of Starts has therefore begun and will lead to the launch of several engineering and design projects that will precede the introduction of the first design prototypes. Due to the enthusiastic and convinced response from scientists and artists from the world of visual arts and theater to digital media and music, we expect to see the first results shortly.”

Italy can make a great contribution on this level, not only due to its past, but also thanks to its present. This is demonstrated by the relationships established between enterprise, scientific research and humanistic culture (Eni, Pirelli, Adriano’s Olivetti, and Italcementi’s  dialog with important architects, but also the experiences of many small and mid-sized companies), such as the recent intense collaborations  between contemporary artists and technologists in Pirelli’s R&D laboratories for the activities of Fondazione Pirelli and Hangar Bicocca and the work of the Polytechnic Institutes of Milan and Turin, and so on.

A far-reaching competitive strategy was also recently relaunched by Assolombarda and its President Gianfelice Rocca, who identified the key to Milan’s competitiveness in the fact that it is a STEAM metropolis, an acronym which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. Like Starts, these terms stand for innovation in the broadest sense of the word. In this case, Italy’s prominence in the arts is an extremely strong distinctive trait that instills and generates new energy for quality growth and development.