Times have changed since the first Marathon de l’Internet créatif was held in 1999. Back then, the web design event was limited to Limoges and the surrounding region of Limousin. The WIF has since gained an international dimension, beginning with the successful first international event in 2004, and confirmed this year by strong international participation.
The only festival of its kind in the world
This live event attracts the most renowned experts in the web-design sector and has gained an excellent reputation. The organisation and festive competitive spirit of the WIF have made it a major event for the creative and internet design community. Over 1000 web designers, webmasters, developers and artists participate. There is no equivalent of the WIF in another country, not even in the United States, where existing competitions are focused more on the technological aspects and are generally organised by publishers or manufacturers.
The aims of the event
The primary objective of the WIF is to assemble as many web players as possible, whether live or in a virtual manner via the net. The Festival is a spotlight on Limoges and its region and shows the creativeness of the professionals there. It is working towards the creation of an international economic centre devoted to new technologies and web design and to interactive creation in particular. The competitions held there reveal new forms of web and multimedia interface design. The WIF is also an occasion for facilitating discussions and meetings for professionals in the sector.
Live for 24 hours non-stop
The Festival has not lost the ‘marathon’ spirit of its early days. Even if pre-selection has gained in importance and if side events (lectures, meetings, exhibitions, etc.) have developed, the heart of the event remains the 24-hour non-stop Webjam Contest in which web designers and developers from all over the world confront each other under giant monitors to produce the best website interface on a specific theme chosen by an international jury.
The winning team in the Webjam Contest (professional category) will make a world tour of web design. In each country, the winners will meet well-known advertisers and web designers in the sector. The other winners are not forgotten and will receive hardware, creative software and so on.
Some advice from previous participants: "You have to prepare for a non-stop competition like this one. You have to bring what you need to stay the course! After a short briefing phase to share the roles and decide on a strategy, you have to go at it non-stop until dawn, then rest a little and polish the work during the final hours."
Web design and creation on the internet are flourishing
The interactive creative universe is rich with design, involving Flash animations, Java or PHP development, 3D interfaces, sound design and so on. Advertising, the cinema, music and other consumer products call increasingly on web creation to stand out from the crowd and address a varied internet public. The market has become increasingly competitive. New players are appearing and numerous freelance graphic designers and developers are establishing positions in a better organised, more mature market. All find themselves centred on the same creativity values, using the same technologies and wishing to share their experience.
What are the main new features of the 2006 event?
Benoît Duverneuil, Project Manager for the event at ARD Limousin (Agence Régionale de Développement du Limousin – the regional development agency): "This year again we wish to show that a territory like Limousin knows how to innovate and to coordinate many participants and partners for an event like this one. Foreign participation will increase noticeably with attendance by new countries like the USA, Brazil and Romania. We have developed a more decentralised organisation system that gives more freedom to participating countries for the organisation of their own event. Another important new feature is that the pre-selection of the French teams that will have the honour of defending France in the final will no longer take place at the festival but at the same time as the other countries from 18 to 19 November 2005, this time at the Numérica centre in Montbéliard (Franche-Comté département)."
THE WEBJAM – NOW A WORLDWIDE COMPETITION
With an eye on the final to be held from 2 to 4 February 2006, the Festival is taking another step forward with massive participation from countries across three continents.
Pre-selection across three continents from 18 to 19 November 2005
Countries can participate in the Webjam in two different ways. One option is to organise their own pre-selection, finding partners to finance the operation, selecting teams and finding a venue, etc. Most countries have chosen this option this year, including France, Russia, Spain, Belgium, Poland, Romania, Canada, Brazil and the United States.
The other countries, which are participating for the first time, have chosen the second option, preferring just to send a delegation of participants to Limoges for the final. This is the case for Réunion (a French département in the Indian Ocean) and probably also for Algeria. Chile and Portugal should also confirm in the coming weeks whether they are going to hold their own pre-selection. In all, a dozen countries from three continents will participate in the competition. Contacts have been made via development bodies, universities and partners in each country or by simple word of mouth.
WIF crosses the Atlantic – USA and Brazil to participate for the first time
American teams are to enter the competition for the first time – a mini-event within the event. The US team is from Tennessee and is pleased to participate in an international webjam, and in Europe too. Competitions for web designers and developers do exist in the United States, but they are very technology-oriented, less focused on artistic issues, and often held for the benefit of a publisher.
"These teams are ready to cross the Atlantic to compete with their European, Asian and Latin American counterparts in a friendly competition far from the pressure of large sponsors," explains Michel Delau, Director-General of ARD Limousin, organisers of the event.
However, the United States is not the only country to hold pre-selections for the Festival in America this year. Brazil is participating too. The Brazilian event is to be held at Unisos, the University of Sao Leopoldo, in southern Brazil, and 12 teams of professionals and 12 teams of amateurs should participate. As at the final in Limoges, lectures and business meetings will also be organised. WIF is a concept much appreciated on the other side of the Atlantic.
French teams pre-selected in Montbéliard
Last year's French pre-selection was held at the same time as the final. This year the teams representing France will be chosen at the same time as the other teams in each country, on 18 and 19 November and all working on the same competition theme. Benoît Duverneuil points out: "This method is simpler and fairer. The pre-selections will be held at the Numérica centre in Montbéliard. Franche Comté [in eastern France] and Limousin have numerous affinities with regard to ICT, even if our specialisations are different."
Final in Limoges from 2 to 4 February 2006
As at the last WIF, the Webjam final will last for 24 hours non-stop. Some 50 teams of three or four professionals and amateurs will confront each other in a festive competition.
New in 2006 – decentralised pre-selection
The more international the event, the more complicated it is to organise. This is why the Festival team (made up of Benoît Duverneuil, Delphine Terrade, Emmanuelle Deplanche and Fanny Davanzo, and headed by Pia Abildgaard) has opted for a decentralised process. Each country now holds its own pre-selection with the help of local partners and in conformity with precise ‘specifications’ provided by the WIF. This procedure thus makes it possible to delegate the logistics of the event and also makes it more visible.
THE OTHER WIF EVENTS: THE WEBDESIGN UNIVERSITY, THE WEBDESIGN BUSINESS CONVENTION AND THE BUTTERFLY AWARDS
The WIF consists of three days of intense activity centred on the Webjam and features other key events, such as a business convention, a series of lectures, workshops and so on.
Webdesign University for discussions and meetings
The Festival is holding its Webdesign University again this year. The aim is to provide a complete series of lectures and discussions with the participation of well-known web-design professionals, scientists, academics and international researchers. The internet and interactive creation form a universe in perpetual motion that requires the regular updating of knowledge and the decoding of trends, so the Webdesign University is also an open discussion forum. The idea is to make festival-goers aware of the richness and creativeness of the sector.
Business Convention to be attended by 100
A Business Convention is also being held within the framework of the Festival. This is attended by professionals who wish to discuss and examine new projects and recruit new talent. About a hundred participants are expected, including players from the web industry as well as SMEs, research establishments and web agencies. ARD Limousin offers a comprehensive formula with the management of personal meetings for professionals.
The Butterfly Awards – the other on-line competition
Another competition, the Butterfly Awards, is open to professional and amateur web designers alongside the Webjam. It is an on-line competition with prizes rewarding the most creative and original web interfaces. Web designers can enter two works before 18 November 2005. They will be shown at the prize-giving evening when the winners in the various categories (institutional, events, e-commerce, Flash, etc.) will be rewarded by an international jury on 2 February 2006.
ESTER, a perfect venue for the WIF
Like last time, WIF 2006 will be housed by the ESTER technology centre (Espace Technique et Scientifique d’Échange et de Recherche), a circular venue with a floor area of more than 1000m2 around which are sited research laboratories, innovation and technology transfer centres and a business development park.
For further information, please go to www.tech-limoges.fr
ICT IN LIMOUSIN – A REALITY SINCE 1995
Information and communication technologies (ICT) benefit from the region's determination to develop activity in this sphere. The Limousin region has been among the most innovative French regions since 1995 and knows how to raise public, regional, national and European aid for projects with excellent potential.
Limoges offers an ideal economic environment for innovation
In addition to its famous porcelain, Limousin beef and apples, Limoges – the economic and cultural heart of the Limousin region – has found new pathways for development. From the agrifoodstuffs industry to telecommunications, from the timber industry to the precision-instrument industry, the quality of life and dynamism of the Limousin attract a variety of high-performance businesses. They include world and national leaders such as LEGRAND, INTERNATIONAL PAPER, BRISTOL MYERS SQUIBB, UNILEVER, DANONE, THALES and ISOROY.
This economic environment enhances innovation and facilitates the deployment of research and cutting-edge technologies. An example of this is that, on 12 July this year, several interregional competitiveness centres in which Limousin participates – in high-technology microwaves, photonics and secure networks, health (cancer centre), ceramics, meat products and mechanics – were chosen among 67 centres to receive official recognition from the French government, that of hub of excellence (pôle de competitivité).
Major ICT projects in the Limousin region
Several major ICT projects are being run in the region today including Practiciel, a European programme, and the setting up of DORSAL, a high and very high-speed telecommunications infrastructure. "Europe has supported our approaches for developing information technologies in our region," confirms Stéphane Soyez, head of the Information Society Department at ARD Limousin. The goal of Practiciel is the emergence of new internet services in fields as varied as health, agriculture and education.
This European programme, which brought €6.6 million from Europe and the region, will help businesses to strengthen their competences in the fields of excellence of the Limousin such as the security of information systems and web design.
Although the region was initially somewhat neglected when major national infrastructure plans were implemented, as well as by the new operators who emerged after the deregulation of telecoms services, Limousin has succeeded in obtaining further aid for funding its high and very high-speed communications infrastructure. "The aim of European structural funds is to reduce disparities within the European Union. Our regional programme of innovative actions has been recognised as one of the best two among 70 from all over Europe. Europe has also just supported a project based on DORSAL and is to provide funding of nearly €15 million," adds Stéphane Soyez. DORSAL, a joint association combining all the large authorities in the region, has chosen a private company to provide high and very high-speed coverage by 2006 in all 747 communes of the region’s three départements – Haute Vienne, Corrèze and Creuse.
WIF is a catalyst for know-how in the region
The Webdesign International Festival plays a decisive role in this field. On the one hand, it attracts teams of web designers from all over the world to come and measure their skill and views of the profession in competitions and at lectures and business meetings. On the other hand, it coordinates all the skills related to ICT. WIF is a unique showcase open to the world outside.
Opening of the Webdesign Centre of Excellence in October 2005
The Festival has enabled the Limousin region to become a point of reference in web design. Starting from this leading position, Practiciel, the European programme of innovative actions steered by the Regional Council and the Agence Régionale de Développement (ARD, Regional Development Agency), has planned the implementation of a regional economic development project making use of the skills resulting from the Festival.
The idea of a Web Design and ICT Centre of Excellence hinges on the three major lines of approach consisting of training (see below), research and entrepreneurship. It aims to be a centre for creative emulation capable of attracting, hosting, strengthening, developing and finalising professional competences in web design, the internet and multimedia.
From the beginning of the 2005/2006 academic year, the Web Design Centre of Excellence will make available a set of technological, monitoring and accompanying tools to enable students, proposers of projects, businesses and scientists to complete their project for research, training, the creation of businesses, technology transfers, etc.
Training in web design
While the 2006 Webdesign International Festival is being prepared, Limoges University has set up its training in web-design skills at the brand new Webdesign Centre of Excellence. The region thus intends to train a new generation of web designers within the framework of a University Diploma in Sensorial web design and on-line creation strategy (after either two years of initial higher education or as continuing training for professionals).
This course leads to many occupations – multimedia site designer, web designer, computer graphics designer, head of multimedia projects, 3D designer, multimedia graphic designer, webmaster, site manager or art director. Courses are given by sector professionals, university research scientists and international experts met through WIF.
The Elopsys Competitiveness Centre
Elopsys is a European high-technology centre covering microwaves, photonics and secure networks in the Limousin region. It develops technologies throughout the emission-transmission and signal processing chain, applying its competences in the leading fields of electronics, data processing, microwaves, electronic and photonic components and communications networks.
Regional activity in this sector forms 17.5% of industrial employment and more than 25% of the region's exports. These areas are handled by global companies such as Photonis, Thales Communications, Legrand, A Novo and the DGA (Direction Générale à l’Armement – the French government’s defence procurement agency) and more than 50 international high-tech businesses. This cluster of businesses is founded on first-rate regional research capabilities through the XLIM laboratory.
ARD LIMOUSIN, THE CREATOR OF WIF
Since it was launched in 1999 (under the name Marathon de l’Internet créatif), the festival has been managed and organised by the Limousin Regional Development Agency (ARD, Agence Régionale de Développement du Limousin).
ARD is a key player in the economic development of Limousin
Founded in 1992, the Agence Régionale de Développement is funded mainly by the Regional Council. It has a staff of 37 and operates in projects in telecommunications, water and the environment, ceramics and international development. Its goal is the economic development of the region.
With regard to new technologies, ARD has originated numerous innovative projects whose implementation has received regional, national and European funding. One of these concerns the setting up of a new high and very high-speed internet infrastructure – DORSAL.
The Festival team
A multidisciplinary team (Benoît Duverneuil, Delphine Terrade, Emmanuelle Deplanche and Fanny Davanzo) led by Pia Abildgaard oversees the Festival. With regard to funding, WIF is supported by the Regional Council and the city of Limoges. Other sources of funding are being examined.
The Festival, a lever in regional innovation
WIF has various economic development objectives. The Festival is one of the most newsworthy of the many projects supported by ARD Limousin. It coordinates numerous creative forces in the region and enables professionals from other regions or countries to discover the dynamism and innovation of the territory with the intention of setting up an operation there.
More generally, the WIF is one of the projects designed by ARD to attract innovative skills to the region, to prevent the departure of young graduates and to strengthen local know-how. For this, new developments in information technology, research and innovation are the best assets.
WIF 2006 IN SHORT
Activity: International event devoted to web design and interactive creation on the internet
Date founded: 1999 (under the name: Marathon de l’Internet créatif)
2004: Webdesign International Festival (WIF)
Organiser: Agence Régionale de Développement du Limousin (the Limousin region’s development agency)
Calendar: Pre-selection in parallel on three continents on 18 and 19 November 2005
Final in Limoges from 2 to 4 February 2006 with 14 countries competing
Organising team: 5 people from ARD Limousin + partners
Key figures: 1000 visitors expected in Limoges, 50 teams competing, 14 participating countries, about 20 exhibitors, 30 lectures, demonstrations and workshops, 40,000 to 60,000 visits to the Festival website expected
For further information, please go to: www.webdesign-festival.com
Webdesign International Festival 2006 to kick off in November
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