ICE Labs Mannheim: Sound Design for New Urban Environments

Sweden, Stockholm – 02-17-2020 ( —

First time in Mannheim: Industry Commons Ecosystem Labs

From April 3 to 7, STARTUP Mannheim will present the Industry Commons Ecosystems (ICE) Labs developed by internationally renowned innovator Michela Magas, Chair of the Industry Commons Foundation and 2017 European Woman Innovator of the Year.

The ICE Labs are an interdisciplinary five-day immersive, hands-on innovation expert laboratory responding to grand challenges on the topic of “Sound Design for New Urban Environments”.

ICE Labs Mannheim will bring together international innovators and representatives from local and regional innovation ecosystems from the fields of music, culture, design, technology, urban and real estate development, neuroscience and healthcare, as well as robotics and data processing.

Key questions include:

  • What will the city of the future sound like?
  • What role does sound and / or music play in public spaces?
  • How can sound positively affect our well-being and health?
  • How can sound be used in security and instil a sense of trust?
  • What role does sound play in smart city IoT applications and self-driving vehicles?
  • What will the mobility of the future sound like?
  • How can sound and music data be managed through decentralised systems?
  • How could auditory route guidance systems work in the city?
  • What are new ways of regulating noise emissions at open air, live music or club events?
  • How can sound be used for the common good?

These are just some of the possible questions that the innovators will deal with at the interface of robotics, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and blockchain.

“The topic of sound and music in public space is diverse and has so far largely been left unprocessed in urban development,” says Dr Peter Kurz, Mayor of the City of Mannheim. “The Industry Commons Ecosystems Labs offer an excellent opportunity to let experts from the existing clusters in Mannheim enter into an intensive dialogue and to explore innovation potentials in the area of sounds in urban space across disciplinary boundaries.”

During the five-day workshop, which will also be attended by numerous local, regional and international stakeholders from the areas mentioned, field research will be carried out in the area of urban sounds. Furthermore, specific prototypes will be created, which will be presented to the public as part of an immersive performance at the end of the workshop.

“The ICE Labs Mannheim tackle a large new area of research which is about to explode in the space of cross-domain collaboration between cities, industry and civil society,” says Michela Magas, who will lead the lab together with Vahakn Matossian of Human Instruments. “The City of Mannheim is in a unique position to design and set standards for new sound for urban environments, with its successful Startup Mannheim cluster for creative industries, the music academy, design faculty, support from local businesses and one of the most progressive city governments in Europe.”

Dan Hill, Director of Strategic Design for Sweden’s Innovation Agency Vinnova will be at the labs as an inspirational guest speaker and provocateur. “The future is not to be predicted, but invented,” says Dan. “New kinds of cities and pervasive technologies are not simply inevitable, but should be designed and arrived at deliberately, via imaginative and participative decision-making cultures framed by broader public and environmental values. The ICE Labs provide an opportunity to imagine and invent how we can live in a world of IoT devices, autonomous vehicles and new urban soundscapes.”

“We aim to continue developing the topic of urban / industrial sound design for the UNESCO City of Music Mannheim in the future,” says Christian Sommer, managing director of STARTUP Mannheim. “We see an enormous innovation potential in the joint work on this interdisciplinary field of and we are convinced that Mannheim can also distinguish itself as a pioneer here.”

“We are very pleased that central activities of the ICE Labs will take place at Mannheim University of Applied Sciences. Our support in hosting the event reflects the importance of the university in innovation processes from a social and economic perspective within the city of Mannheim’s ecosystem,” says Prof Dr Astrid Hedtke-Becker, Rector of the Mannheim University of Applied Sciences. “The subject “Urban Sound Design” provides opportunities to participate across the various disciplines in our range of subjects. It also allows us to contribute our expertise in the area of open innovation. The event turns our campus into a meeting place and our students into co-designers. In this way, the foundations for implementing design ideas can be laid that go far beyond the duration of the event.”

Another special feature of this open innovation process is that all copyright generated remains with its respective creator. In this way, a productive and effective process can be guaranteed and prototypes developed in cooperation with the originators can be tested and potentially brought to market.


Photo of Michela Magas by Nebojsa Babic

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