MTF Labs



Innovation Labs and Testbeds


“The changing technological conditions at work and affordances created by frontier technologies mean that we need to reframe several of our existing notions of what constitutes healthy human beings and healthy other beings, environments and ecosystems.

“Our prototyping environments have led on experiments with humans-in-the-loop, where the impact of frontier technologies – such as AI, deep learning and brain-computer interfaces – can be tested in safe environments, and challenges addressed before applications are deployed at scale. These experiments test the extent to which the technology enables or obstructs human agency, decision making processes and accountability.

“This dimension is directly linked to safeguarding health and wellbeing, including new data- and media-driven issues of privacy, bias and discrimination, physical distancing and isolation, and social media impact on mental health. So in this sense, we see culture and design as safeguarding the social and ethical dimension of technology.”

Michela Magas, CEO, MTF Labs




MTF Labs: Ecosystem Living


Film by Nuno Barbosa

MTF places music and creativity at the heart of innovation across all domains to address grand societal challenges. The MTF Labs theme this year was ‘Ecosystem Living’. The Labs took place in Aveiro, Portugal as part of Aveiro Tech Week.

Building on 2020’s ‘Another Green World’ and 2021’s ‘Just Ocean’, the new ‘Ecosystem Living’ theme challenged MTF Labs’ expert participants to consider how human beings can live in specific relation to their surroundings and environment.

This challenge moves beyond and away from the concept of *urban planning* because we reject ‘urban’ as a necessary (or even desirable) condition for human habitation. ‘Ecosystem Living’ transcends the idea of spatial planning, since the focus of spatial planning is limited to the physical space and not the complex interactions between cohabiting species. Nor is it ecosystem planning because we do not seek to impose order, encourage extractive practices or create the conditions for entirely anthropocentric habitation.

We consider human beings and their activities to be part of nature and not separate from it, and so true ecosystem living is about harmony, alignment and balance, and finding an entire value network within a holistic cohabitation. This balance must synthesise and integrate artistic practice, scientific research, traditional craft professions and local cultural practices.





Aveiro Documentary

MTF Labs director Andrew Dubber discovers the culture of Aveiro, a city under imminent threat of ocean rise due to climate change and undergoing the loss of cultural heritage and traditional industries.



MTF Labs: Just Ocean - part 1


Aveiro, 2021

Chapter 1 of a 3-part documentary by filmmaker Francisca Siza examining the week-long experimental creative innovation labs event MTF Labs Aveiro.



MTF Labs: Just Ocean - part 2


Aveiro, 2021

Chapter 2 of a 3-part documentary by filmmaker Francisca Siza examining the week-long experimental creative innovation labs event MTF Labs Aveiro.



MTF Labs: Performance AI


Stockholm, 2018
MTF Labs with 90 international experts in a nuclear reactor 20 meters underground.

Photography by Andrea Grin Cerrato

Film by Fanni Fazakas 



MTF Labs: Industry Commons


Helsinki, 2017

#MTFLabs: Industry Commons pilot at Slush, tracking IP through blockchain in real time, neurofeedback control, accessible music tech, AI and cyborg performance.

Music Tech Fest by Ian Wallman

Berlin, 2016


MTF Labs


MTF Labs is a growing global community of over 8000 brilliant innovators established and developed over a decade. These innovators come from a wide range of backgrounds, disciplines and skill sets.

Many are academics - doctoral, postdoctoral and professorial; others are professional artists and musicians; some are industry experts, and many are scientists. MTF includes producers, curators, media professionals, policymakers and more.

They come together from fields as diverse as medicine, agriculture, oceanography, theoretical physics, automotive, aviation, policy, product design, social sciences, robotics and AI, music composition and performance, arts management, cryptography, business incubation, traditional and indigenous crafts, neuroscience, ecology and economics - and they pool their expertise in collaborations that could happen in no other context.

MTF is different everywhere it takes place.

At the centre are the curated expert labs. However, MTF also includes performance showcases, exploratory field trips, youth education workshops, a research symposium, policy roundtables, music production challenges and more.

The events provide an opportunity to bring together community members, create innovation that addresses global challenges, and showcase the brilliant ideas and projects that emerge from that community.

MTF Labs is diverse, accessible and inclusive - and ensures an at least even gender balance. At MTF Stockholm in 2018, 53% of participants registered as Female - the remaining 47% identifying as Male, Other, or “Prefer not to say” - and we placed women in the lead of all technology areas across the event.

#MTFLabs by @PeterKolskiArt

Berlin, 2016

MIT Media Lab presents a documentary by Sheila Hayman about #MTFLabs Performance+Body featuring Viktoria Modesta.

Berlin, 2016

A really magical happening, I’m challenged and excited - Eska, Mercury Prize nominee

Such a diverse and creative festival - Ian Wallman, Producer

Insane day of wonder and experiments - Viktoria Modesta, Bionic artist

Founded in London in 2012, MTF (Music Tech Fest) has occupied a range of significant venues, including the Barbican in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Microsoft Research NERD Labs in Cambridge, MA, the Funkhaus in Berlin, Cankarjev Dom in Ljubljana, and the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm. A giant creative laboratory, MTF connects artists, technologists and businesses in a vibrant environment. Unique collaborations, new works created on-site, original research, premieres of future technology, and a visionary community make each event an exciting landmark gathering. MTF is cross-genre, international, enriching, and inclusive.


By bringing together the MTF community and companies, MTF Labs enables talent, researchers and businesses to test their ideas, expand and innovate rapidly. Experts unite to collaborate and receive support and distribution routes for their projects. MTF has consistently fed innovation policy directly from grassroots creative prototyping, achieving 53% women in a multi-gender 800-participant festival, enabling breakthrough accessibility applications to uncover new human talents, testing the future of work through creative experimentation, and resulting in multiple awards for art, innovation and entrepreneurship.


The MTF ethos is expressed in a Manifesto, collaboratively authored In March 2014 by a group of extraordinary thinkers from the MTF community, including researchers from Microsoft Research, MIT, Harvard, Oxford, McGill and Rutgers. These brilliant minds gathered at Microsoft Research NERD Labs and created the international Manifesto for the Future of Music Technology Research, which hundreds of supporters have since undersigned from a variety of backgrounds, including science, arts, industry and politics.

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