Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (M-ITI) wins tender for research on ‘Social Tech Ecosystems in sub-Saharan Africa’ by British funders Comic Relief, Indigo Trust and Nominet Trust

The Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (M-ITI) is delighted to announce that it has been commissioned to produce an ambitious piece of research on ‘Social Tech Ecosystems in sub-Saharan Africa,’ by a partnership of three key foundations making grants in the fields of social tech and international development: Comic Relief, Indigo Trust and Nominet Trust.

This major project will be supervised by Prof. Chris Csikszentmihalyi, a European Research Area Chair who has championed the field of tech and social innovation for twenty years. He will be leading an international team including expert researchers from Uganda, Zimbabwe, Jamaica, Europe and North America. “M-ITI has responded to this call because of an imperative: our team has a deep desire to foster sustainable innovation in sub-Saharan Africa (sSA), but equally deep reservations about many of the innovation narratives being pushed onto the continent. We look forward to finding successful local initiatives from which to build a fruitful theory and practice of sSA-appropriate models of innovation.”

Anne Radl, Programme Development Manager at Nominet Trust, who is coordinating this project on behalf of the three funders, said: “Comic Relief, Indigo Trust and Nominet Trust are excited to embark on this rich and varied research journey with M-ITI. The scope of the research is ambitious – but it is proportionate with the huge value that will come from understanding what sustains social tech innovations across sub-Saharan Africa and allows them to thrive. We look forward to being challenged on how to support social tech ecosystems to be robust and resilient, and to reflect new insights back on the social tech ecosystem in the UK.”

This major study will span the next five months and will cover Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone Africa in order to reflect the diversity of the continent. The methodology will involve both hands-on field work in six sub-Saharan African countries and an in-depth review of existing practices of social tech in the entire region through a peer nomination approach.

The process will be documented ‘in real time’ through a blog that will be created specifically for the project, featuring interviews, videos and analyses as the research progresses, as well as the final report when completed in April 2017.

The final report, an open source database and an interactive map of innovation actors in the region, will be disseminated to policy makers and funders of social tech and innovation in sub-Saharan Africa to foster better informed investment in social tech.

Findings from this research will also be presented at “Strategic Narratives of Technology and Africa”, a major international conference hosted at M-ITI and scheduled for September 2017, which will bring top African scholars, cultural producers, and entrepreneurs together to present and reimagine socio-technical possibilities in Africa.

This research has been commissioned by Comic Relief, Indigo Trust and Nominet Trust.


About the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (M-ITI):

The Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (Madeira-ITI) is a not-for-profit innovation of the University of Madeira, founded by the University of Madeira, Madeira Tecnopolo, and Carnegie Mellon University. The institute was created in December 2009 in order to provide a home for the numerous collaborations between these partners, in both research and education. M-iti operates in the interdisciplinary domain of Human- Computer Interaction (HCI), encapsulating contributions from the disciplines of computer science, psychology and social sciences, and design, with the goal of engaging in important scientific and technological challenges.

About Comic Relief

Comic Relief is a UK charity which aims to create a just world, free from poverty - where everyone is safe, healthy, educated and empowered. Since 1985, Comic Relief has raised over £1 billion. That money has helped, and is helping, people living incredibly tough lives, both at home in the UK and across the world.

Comic Relief, registered charity 326568 (England/Wales); SC039730 (Scotland)

About Indigo Trust

The Indigo Trust is a UK based foundation which funds projects and organisations in Sub-Saharan Africa that leverage the power of mobile and web technologies, to foster active, informed citizens and accountable governments. 

Indigo supports civic tech communities and innovation hubs that use digital technologies for positive social change, in order to grow and strengthen the social tech sector in countries across Africa.  They also provide small and high-risk grants to early stage projects to stimulate innovative approaches to tackling social challenges.  They offer their grantees tailored, bespoke support and access to a wider network to amplify their impact and strengthen their organisations.  They also support wider sector initiatives and shared learning in the social technology sector.

About Nominet Trust

Nominet Trust is the UK’s leading social tech funder. It provides 100 per cent grant funding, mentoring and business support to organisations using the internet and digital technology to address significant social challenges including health and wellbeing, economic empowerment and sustainability. Since 2009, Nominet Trust has invested more than £25m in projects harnessing technology to deliver real social change. Through partnerships and campaigns such as the inspirational NT100, Nominet Trust mobilises new approaches that will influence and accelerate the use of tech for social good.

Nominet Trust was founded in 2008 by Nominet.

Nominet is a public benefit company, with 20 years’ experience running the .UK internet infrastructure.  Building on that expertise, Nominet is actively involved in connecting devices as well as people, helping people be safe and networks stay secure, and supporting the next generation of ideas and talent.  With the proceeds of its successful registry business, Nominet set up and funds Nominet Trust, its charitable foundation.

Contact in Portugal: Elise Leclerc, M-ITI Executive Director: +351 961 343 496


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Representatives of the European Commission visited M-ITI

Yesterday, representatives from the European Commission visited M-ITI, namely: Eng. Georgios Yannoussis, the Director of FEDER, and Dr. Luca Marchetti, the Rapporteur da DG Regio of PO M14-20. Accompanying the visit were the national representatives of the PT2020 Agência de Desenvolvimento e Coesão (AD&C), and Instituto de Desenvolvimento Regional IP-RAM (IDR IP-RAM).
The visit was in the scope of the IV Meeting of the Monitoring Committee of “Madeira 14-20” that is taking place today, December 7, in Madeira.
During the visit, the M-ITI EXCELL, Beanstalk, the PIE News, and the ERA Chair projects were presented. After visiting M-ITI, the European Commission representatives also visited the Observatório Oceânico da Madeira (OOM).


M-ITI professor Nuno Nunes presents project about the Ocean of Madeira

Professor Nuno Nunes was invited to the 14th Annual National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI) conference “Discovering the Deep Blue Sea: Research, Innovation, Social Engagement” from November 9-12 in Irvine CA, U.S.

Nuno Nunes talked about his vision of how future research on Oceans can be shaped by and from periferic places like Madeira. His vision focuses less on exploration of natural resources and more on the future of mankind. He also presented a project about building an ocean theme park in Madeira, in cooperation with the University of Texas at Austin. The theme park would be about 100 meters deep in the ocean, and allow scientists, and other interested people to observe and study its biodiversity.

Full interview about the project below.

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M-ITI is participating in the 9th International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling

M-ITI researchers Professor Nuno Nunes, Professor Valentina Nisi, and the Digital Media PhD students Mara Dionisio and Paulo Bala are participating in the 9th International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling, taking place from November 15-18, at the Creative Technologies, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA.

Paulo Bala is presenting "IVRUX: A Tool for analyzing Immersive Narratives in Virtual Reality," while Mara Dionisio is presenting "Transmedia Storytelling for Exposing Natural Capital and Promoting Ecotourism," which was selected as a finalist for the ICIDS best paper award.The team also presented a poster and a demonstrations session: "DreamScope: Mobile Virtual Reality Interface".

Mara Dionisio, Paulo Bala, Rui Trindade, Sandra Câmara, Dina Dionisio, and Valentina Nisi also exhibited at the ICIDS Art exhibition. The artwork was entitled "Moving through space and narrative" an interactive 360 VR story environment. Through this artwork, participants are able to fully explore an interactive environment called "The Old Pharmacy", experimenting with different input methods for movement and exploration of a digital narrative.


M-ITI Seminars

Madeira-ITI organises seminars and invited talks in the areas of Computer Science and Human-Computer Interaction.
Virpi Roto
7 December, 2016 - 17:00


Most companies strive for superior user experience (UX) by improving the user interface of their products and services. In practice, this often means designing a more usable and beautiful user interface than what the competitors currently provide. However, a more successful strategy might be to provide experiences that are different from others; i.e. branded experiences. In this talk, I highlight the impact of a company brand to user experience, which has been previously largely disregarded by the HCI community. Taking brand identity as the starting point for user experience design has a dramatic impact on the foundational design approach in HCI, user-centred design. I introduce experience goals that are specific for a brand rather than for a product or a user group. Inspired by service design, I call for collaboration between UX and marketing experts to deliver humane, branded experiences in all touch points. I hope this talk induces researchers to study the relation between brand and user experience, and students to design for distinctive experiences.


Short Bio:

Virpi Roto’s mission is to find means to make designing for experiences more successful. Since she joined Nokia Research Center 1995, she has been a messenger between the industry and academia. The most cited works of hers relate to user experience. After she joined Aalto University 2011, her research has focused on designing for meaningful experiences in various domains, including B2B metal industry, packaging industry, as well as pharmacy and real estate services. Virpi holds MSc in computer science and PhD in usability research.

David Palma
5 December, 2016 - 16:00


Operating in oceans and seas across the world are various types of vehicles, buoys and sensors. Moreover, their availability has increased in high-latitude regions, due to their socio-economic impact, creating several communication challenges. This presentation introduces the SINet project, which aims at developing an integrated communication system for intermittent links in the Arctic. Heterogeneity and networking

robustness are two key aspects of this project, which proposes a Software-defined Intermittent Networking solution. The presented work is funded by an H2020 Marie-Curie Action, which promotes mobility of researchers worldwide.


Short Bio:

David Palma is a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Telematics, NTNU, and has worked in the past as a Researcher and Project Manager at OneSource, as well as an invited Assistant Professor at the University of Coimbra. He holds a PhD in Information Science and Technology received from the University of Coimbra. His current research interests

are on Routing, IoT, Cloud-Computing and Software-Defined Networking, subjects on which he has authored and co-authored multiple papers in refereed conferences and journals. He has participated in several TPCs, national and international research projects, including European Projects (FP6/FP7/H2020), and in the preparation of successful research proposals.