FNE AV Innovation: How the Sandbox Hub boosts media innovation through (inter)national collaboration

    Sarah Geeroms Sarah Geeroms

    “We strongly believe in the value of open innovation,” Sarah Geeroms, project leader at the Flemish public broadcaster VRT said during NEXT, the innovation event of Marché du Film – Festival de Cannes. On at the most recent edition of NEXT 2019, Sarah was invited to present the Sandbox Hub, a network that brings together international media organisations and startups with the goal of stimulating collaboration and allowing innovative ideas and insights to be quickly tested and shared.

    The Sandbox Hub was launched early 2018 as part of the H2020 project MediaRoad to support collaboration and knowledge-sharing among European broadcasters and startups. It replicates the successful model of VRT Sandbox (and other related models of its members), which matches startups, SMEs and entrepreneurs to the Flemish public broadcaster for short-term collaborations. VRT Sandbox has already enabled over 120 collaborations in 5 years, where startups had the opportunity to test, further develop and validate their technology in real-life productions. Similarly, VRT is able to stay up to date on the latest technological trends and explore or even implement new products or services. 

    Following the lead of VRT, 16 international media organisations are now part of the Sandbox Hub and are establishing their own Sandbox approach. Each Sandbox operates independently, but is connected across Europe with a platform to give successful cases the chance to scale internationally. “In addition to testing and validating new technologies in real production environments, the Sandbox Hub initiative gives startups access to an international media network and related events that could bring new opportunities to grow or improve their technology, and at the same time introduce international media organisations to innovative solutions.” At the NEXT event in Cannes, Sarah therefore invited three startups to pitch their technologies: Aiconix from Germany, Tinkerlist from Belgium and BCaster from Finland. From supporting creative workflows to leveraging user-generated content on social media, these startups contribute to carrying out the Sandbox Hub's mission by sharing innovating outcomes and expanding their network.

    In the coming years, Sarah hopes to continue and grow the Sandbox Hub network with a member in each continent. Currently, the Sandbox Hub consists of the following members: VRT Sandbox, Media City Bergen, France TV, BBC, ARD, Yle, Sverige Radio, Next Media Accelerator, RTP, ARD, NPO, RTBF, Media Lab Bayern, ZDF, ERD and Red Bull Media House. Those interested in collaborating or joining the network can contact Sarah at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

    Sandbox Hub participated in the recent edition of Cannes NEXT at the Marché du Film that showcases new ideas, new technologies, new business models in the audiovisual sector.

    About the Author: Sarah Geeroms

    Despite a degree in social work, Sarah accidentally rolled into the private sector where she worked for ten years in sales focusing on business development, negotiation and networking. After this sales experience, Sarah returned back to her roots, the social sector, where she was a regional coordinator for the Foundation against Cancer. Sarah's core tasks consisted of coordinating various major events and projects, setting up partnerships with hospitals and local authorities and recruiting and coaching volunteers.

    These are all various capabilities that Sarah is currently using at VRT, as she got the opportunity, more than two years ago, to create the Sandbox Hub. This Sandbox Hub, part of the H2020 funded MediaRoad project, replicates the successful VRT Sandbox model to other international media organizations and creates an international network of media innovation accelerators through which groundbreaking ideas can be tested and scaled, innovative knowledge is shared and where events are co-organised to enable local startups to scale easier internationally.

    Sarah now manages this Sandbox Hub and is also engaged in other projects of the innovation department, meaning she continuously works together with European and Flemish partners, among which startups, universities, broadcasters and other media organizations. Sarah strongly believes in the value of international collaboration and focuses on open innovation.