On 29 July 2021, ALICE’s partners met online for the fourth interregional meeting. The meeting marked a milestone in the life of the project, namely the end of the exploration period and the beginning of the implementation and dissemination stage. This new phase will be dedicated to testing and sharing ALICE’s solutions to supporting the competitiveness of the animation industry in Europe. Therefore, the first part of the session focused on the presentation and validation of each partner’s action plan for the year to come. In the second part of the meeting, three major outcomes of the project were presented to the group for approval including the study on animation clusters led by the Apulia Region, the final version of the whitepaper of ALICE’s tools and recommendations and the short pedagogical animated video created to communicate ALICE’s goals and principles in the upcoming dissemination phase.

The project study phase left ALICE’s partners with a deep knowledge of the sector and well equipped to develop and carry out new support initiatives in their regions. With this knowledge, each of them designed industry-oriented action plans to turn ALICE’s tools and recommendations into local policies, with a view to developing collaborations across borders. The following action plans were approved in session:

- In Wallonia, film fund Wallimage will launch ALICE’s two-step ‘Wonderland’ initiative to facilitate co-productions, starting with the creation of a SMART directory of European animation studios. The plan also includes the implementation of EU-certified training programmes.

- The Hauts-de-France’s film fund Pictanovo will focus on facilitating access to funding through a complete mapping of the European regional funds and programmes.

- PROA’s action plan for Catalonia is centered on three main priorities: providing industry data through a complete mapping of the industry players across the value chain, facilitating co-production while contributing to ALICE’s smart directory and submitting policy improvement proposals to harmonize co-production rules between territories.

- Apulia’s action plan for the regional animation industry includes the implementation of ALICE’s designed training programme as well as the creation of a digital hub, industry cluster and a new funding programme.

- Slovakia will take part in ALICE’s Smart Directory of animation studios, create educational workshops based on ALICE’s training programmes and conduct a comprehensive mapping of creative talent, based on ALICE’s developed methodology.

- The Rseszow region intends to develop new university-business partnerships to build market-oriented training programmes, boost continued learning through online webinars and workshops and launch support initiatives for the development of animated production for children.

This first phase of the meeting ended with enthusiastic reactions from the group and the satisfaction of seeing ALICE’s proposals take shape through tailored and complementary initiatives that prepare the ground for continued interregional collaboration.

During the second part of the meeting, the participants validated the last versions of three important outputs for the future of ALICE:

- The in-depth study on industry clusters exploring the possibility of developing European animation clusters. Investing in clusters seems to be an ideal way to consolidate the sector and serve the aims of both strategic specialisation and innovation policies to boost competitiveness. With this study, ALICE’s ultimate ambition is to create a larger network of entities belonging and related to the European animation sector in order to stimulate steady talent and technology development, and make the industry progress as a whole.

- ALICE’s whitepaper: designed to be practical and rapidly implementable everywhere in Europe, the proposals compiled in this document contain complete sets of tools and recommendations that will help policy makers from across Europe build a competitive environment for animation that supports growth. The paper will be released in September 2021.

- A short animated video, produced at the initiative of ALICE’s lead partner Wallimage, to explain the objectives and principles of the project in a fun and simple way, which will serve as a promotional instrument at the time the whitepaper is published.

After two years of collaboration, the group left the meeting with the same desire to continue to carry out actions that serve their regional industries while moving in the direction of greater integration and cohesion at a European level. The project’s partners will meet again during the summer of 2022 to report on the positive impact of their actions, adjust recommendations and discuss ways to maintain ALICE's legacy by strengthening the European animation industry over the long term.