On 11 June 2021, the Apulia Region held its fourth meeting with regional stakeholders. The participants included producers and independent workers from the animation sector, as well as audiovisual experts Massimo Modugno from the Production Office of the Apulia Film Commission and Francesca Valentini, General Manager of the new Apulia Digital Center Network.

As the ALICE project reaches the end of its exploration phase, the purpose of the meeting was to lay the groundwork for the project’s sectoral action plan designed in line with the region’s long-term development objectives. In this perspective, Ms. Valentini made some introductory remarks on the recently launched digital center as an essential part of Apulia’s ambition to build an attractive international creative hub.

The first part of the meeting focused on the importance of this new center for the regional animation industry in terms of collaboration, innovation and growth opportunities. Dedicated to promoting the Apulian digital sector, this new hub is based on a network of thirteen partners including animation studios, audio and video post-production companies, various service providers specialized in 2D graphic, 2D and 3D animation, visual design, development of software and new media, as well as 2D and 3D gaming companies. With the intention of attracting new members, the network will perform a series of targeted actions in order to promote the skills and services of its partners; develop synergies among them; lobby EU institutions; facilitate the access to regional; national and European funding, take part in private and public innovation initiatives and test innovative approaches, foster experience sharing and dialogue with sectorial institutions including public bodies, universities and research centers, help design market-appropriate and competitive training programmes; and, last but not least, participate in national and international industry events.

The underlying mission of the Apulia Digital Center Network is to introduce a new business model in which companies sharing common objectives can systematically collaborate, share knowledge and build on each other’s experiences. Strongly committed to talent development, this network welcomes independent workers. The ultimate goal is to give the means to regional companies to take on ambitious audio-visual and new media projects with global outreach potential.

The Region’s strategic orientation and new initiatives were enthusiastically received. Recognizing the importance of the ALICE project as a launching pad for a new era of greater connection with policy makers and European collaborations, Mr. Modugno noted the timely investments in digital technologies as a strategic way to enhance the competitiveness of the audiovisual sector. He reminded the meeting attendees of the upcoming opening of a virtual set in the Cineport of Bari and Foggia, which will welcome new productions. On their end, the participants reaffirmed Apulia’s industry’s strong need for business, job and highly specialized training opportunities to position itself on the European market and contribute to its growth.

The meeting ended with a few notes from the Apulia Film commission about the ALICE project’s progress, and appreciation from all the participants for the project’s progress in getting the industry recognized as a strategic sector for growth as well as initiating discussions with decision-makers. The Apulia Digital Center Network will be officially launched on July 1, 2021, during the Puglia Animation Day. It will mark a turning point in the nature and shaping of the regional industry as well as the first step towards the construction of a leading sector for the Region.