Two-stage incubation programme for museums

  • Action type: Third Party Financial Support for pilot activity
  • Opening date: 17 January 2022
  • Closing time: 13 February 2022 23:59 (Europe/Brussels)
  • Budget per project: € 27 000
  • Estimated number of projects funded: 40
  • Project duration: 3 months
  • Official website


The call is for the development and implementation of pilot activities linked with the digital transformation of museums and cultural organisations.

What is a pilot?

In DOORS’ context, a pilot is a project related to museums’ digitalisation, conceived by institutions individually or in tandem and developed in collaboration with the tech and/or creative sector. A pilot can be a completely new project or a phase in a long-term transformation that reaches tangible results within the fixed period of the second incubation stage (i.e., 9 months). To carry out the activities needed for the implementation of the pilot, museums can receive financial support of up to €27.000.

Types of activities

Pilot activities can target different fields of digitalisation in museums such as collections and asset management, content production and preservation, access control and mediation, marketing and sales, communication, administration and governance, human resources, technical and IT infrastructure.

Applicants can submit proposals targeting digital innovation for online services (digital presence on the web and mobile access), for onsite services (including ICT such as big data or machine learning for analysing day-to-day processes or audiences) and services that bridge online and onsite worlds.

An exhaustive list of eligible activities will be defined for the second stage of incubation based on the concrete needs identified together with the selected participants during the first incubation stage and through a needs assessment analysis conducted with experts. However, it is foreseen that funding can be spent on personnel costs, equipment/infrastructure, staff training, services and any other cost items deemed eligible and of relevance to the institution’s digital transformation.

The grant cannot cover the maintenance of ongoing projects, however, can be allocated for the significant strategic advancement and/or redevelopment with digital means. This implies that DOORS funding should contribute to an independent extension of the existing project.


Synergies with other sources of funding are encouraged if the grants are used for complementary, not overlapping purposes.

Innovation areas

All proposed actions in the pilot need to cover one of the 4 innovation areas:

  • Innovating audience analysis and engagement: Developing innovative (hybrid and online) audience engagement formats to strengthen audience participation and loyalty. Pilots should develop interaction, participation and mediation tools and technologies for presentation based, as well as hands-on & two-way communication formats. Experiments should include an appropriate audience analysis and assessment of the best engagement platform (web, social media, app, etc)
  • New distribution & revenue models: Pilots should experiment with digital technologies, tools, and existing platforms (developing web integration pilots) to enable novel ways of content distribution and revenue models (e.g., membership subscription, etc). Participants can work on increasing visibility of digital contents, metadata standards, digital narration strategies, digital distribution channels, low-tech presentations, or content varieties for different target groups (active vs. passive, digital vs. virtual) etc. Pilots in this innovation area will be encouraged to develop synergies and technical integration possibilities with major European cultural platform providers.
  • Strategies for integrating infrastructure: To ensure diversity in TRL (technology readiness levels) and include museums with no or few ICT (information and communication technologies) pre-investments – according to UNESCO still the major obstacle for digitalisation sector -, this innovation area will specifically target infrastructural pilots integrating ICT. While the priority clearly lies on the integration process of the technology (including roll-out support, data security, value chain integration), pilots can include a part of the infrastructural purchase in the overall budget (up to 40%) if duly justified and proportional.
  • Experimental ICT program: Sharing efforts and synergies within this collaborative innovation area should allow organisations to experiment with digital pilots one individual museum alone would be unable to. This innovation area seeks to encourage experimental pilots which change the use, application, or perception of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) innovation in the museum sector. Due to the collaborative nature of this innovation area, single-institution applications are not eligible.


Eligibility criteria

The call is open to all museums and cultural organisations listed above and formed as a legal entity for at least 2 years in one member state of the European Union (including the UK, their overseas departments and outermost regions) or H2020 associated countries (see full list here). The project’s main target is small and medium-sized institutions. To take part in any of the strands, institutions should match at least one of the following criteria:

  • Counting less than 200 000 visitors in 2019 (In-person audience – in situ activity and off-site -, or online audience for purely online/ virtual museums)
  • A yearly turnover or balance sheet total of less than €2 M for core museum operation

For the benefit of exchange and leveraging the knowledge and networks of bigger organizations, large museums (exceeding one or several of the above size criteria) are allowed to submit a proposal for any of the innovation areas in tandem with a minimum of one small and medium-sized museums as described above. Tandem applications must sufficiently demonstrate the benefit of the collaboration for the digital incubation program. For each tandem application, organisations involved need to choose one main applicant. This main applicant needs to comply with the eligibility criteria and will be responsible for the application. The applicant will also be DOORS’ contact point for all administrative aspects such as contracting and final reporting.

How to apply

DOORS will run two calls for proposals for its digital incubation programme. The present call is for the first incubation stage taking place from April to June 2022. Only the 40 beneficiaries selected from this call will be further eligible to apply for the second incubation stage (the respective call is expected to be launched in summer 2022).

Application must be submitted via the online platform provided by Ars Electronica. To answer this call, institutions are required to follow the process outlined below:

  • Step 1: Check eligibility criteria listed above or in the Guide for Applicants.
  • Step 2: Check the Declaration of Honour and the Orbit page (coming soon) to make sure you do not have any conflict of interest with jury member(s).
  • Step 3: Complete the diagnostic survey (coming soon).
  • Step 4: Prepare your pilot proposal (download template here). The applicant will be required to submit a short version of the proposal (3 pages) describing the core idea and a summary of the foreseen impact of the digital pilot that will be integrated into the existing infrastructure. Please read carefully the “Selection criteria” section of this call to make sure you provide all necessary details in the description of your pilot idea and foreseen impact.
  • Step 5: Complete and submit your application form on the online platform. Once you have registered a profile on the online submission platform, the following information and documents will be required:

When applying to the DOORS open call, please also note that:

  • Only complete applications submitted before the deadline will be considered for review. The application reckons complete when the diagnostics survey is submitted (step 3).
  • All mandatory sections must be written in English for the proposal to be eligible. Only parts written in English will be evaluated.
  • Organisations are allowed to submit only one proposal for each innovation area.
Online information session

Two online info sessions about the open call will be held for institutions interested in applying to the programme. A recording of one of the sessions will be made available to applicants on the dedicated DOORS’ website page.

    • Info Session on the 22nd of December 2021. Click here to watch the recording.
    • Info Session on the 25th of January 2022 from 3:00-4:00 CET. Click here to register for the session.

Both info sessions will be held on Zoom. The link to the Zoom meeting will be provided in the registration confirmation email.

Application Guidelines and Documents

New project idea for: Two-stage incubation programme for museums

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