AGORA is an EU-funded project under the MSCA Doctoral Networks of the Marie Curie-Skłodowska Actions that aims to train next generation researchers on the technology, social, and business values of Metaverses. The objective of the project is to develop the critical research and talent base that current Metaverses challenges require, through a rigorous and robust training programme, that will engage Doctoral Candidates (DCs) into the fundamental shifts that the Metaverse brings and prepare them for business, innovation and technological opportunities, while instilling them with the principles of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI).

Metaverses refer to immersive virtual worlds in which people, places and things of the physical world are instantiated by their digital representations. The maturity of technologies, including extended reality, human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, blockchain, non-fungible investments of tech giants (e.g., Meta, Microsoft), are currently driving the wider use of Metaverses. As Metaverses operate in real-time, their wide adoption is expected to create digital public spaces for interaction (similar to ancient Greek agoras) in which online interactions are intensified and blended with the physical world as never before. It is thus expected that Metaverses will generate value by releasing a new spectrum of opportunities at different pillars (e.g. societal, business, and technological).

AGORA’s research aim is two-fold: (a) to provide a holistic framework for understanding Metaverses’ business and societal value, taking into account the interplay of implications across the three pillars; and (b) to identify pathways for maximising value creation within each pillar, while minimising the negative impacts across the other two.

AGORA responds to the lack of doctoral programs which go beyond the technical understanding of Metaverses but also investigate their business and social value while unpacking and addressing potential unintended consequences. Through a rigorous and robust research and training programme, AGORA aims to develop a critical research and talent base capable of leading by example. AGORA’s approach is to train the Early-Stage Researchers (ESRs) not only to understand Metaverse’s infrastructure but also to understand and oscillate between the different levels of Metaverse’s business and societal value, paving in this way a more integrated understanding of this disruptive ecosystem. Combining theoretical and hands-on industrial research and transferable skills training will enable researchers to target high-quality publication outlets and to become creative and autonomous so that they can exploit and commercialize research results and become competitive in the global arena.

One of AGORA’s unique selling points is its ability to prepare the ESRs to work in any of the three pathways (academia, industry, policy making) as well as their intersections. AGORA’s inter-sectoral network brings together leading academic and non-academic co-supervision arrangements of high quality, stimulates the development of new industrial doctoral training procedures between top business schools and industries in the region.

The AGORA consortium comprises 12 partners from academia and industry and plans to support 17 Doctoral Candidates over a period of 4 years, who will conduct research on Metaverses.

AGORA has already announced some DC Openings, while more openings will be announced in the upcoming months! DC Openings seeking highly skilled researchers, who will conduct breakthrough research on Metaverses and explore their technical, business and societal values can be found here.