Help us evaluate Sources of funding for social entrepreneurs/ social innovators: 15 million euros in European Commission funding for tech-enabled civic innovation
Fellow Edgeryder Anthony Zacharzewski and I attended an information session organized by the European Commission last July in London. We picked up some rather interesting and underpublished information that you might be interested in :
The European Commission has decided to build the capacity of the third sector to create new forms of social innovation through its brand new CAPS initiative. CAPS = Collective Awareness Platforms for Sustainability and Social Innovation (A mouthful, I know.) But additionally, CAPS = 15 million euros in funding for “ICT systems leveraging the emerging ‘network effect’ by combining open online social media, distributed knowledge creation and data from real environments.”
Here is my best attempt to break this down for you:
Does your innovation initiative:
- support a bottom-up approach?
- tackle sustainable solutions to societal challenges such as youth engagement, health, transportation issues and the environment?
- develop collective decision making tools based on the combination of social networks, wikis and/or IoT?
- contribute to new forms of self-regulation (based, for example, on the awareness of global constraints) ?
- use free software, open hardware and/or open data?
- empower existing communities of citizens?
If you check most if not all of these boxes, then there’s a good chance that call 10 of the ICT workprogramme 2013 will accommodate your proposal. The CAPS initiative, launched under objective 5.5 within the call, supports a broad range of actors to pilot and spin-off self-sustaining programs.
To get a clearer idea of the kind of projects eligible for funding, Dr. Fabrizio Sestini, Senior scientific officer at the European Commission, throws us a few examples:
- Freecycle (grassroots movement of people giving stuff for free)
- Zopa (enables lending/borrowing money directly between individuals)
- Urban Eco Map (encourages eco-conscious decision-making at a local level)
- Opengenius (an open-source crowdfunding platform for scientific research)
If the shoe fits, you need to take the time to wrestle with some of these forms and apply before January 15, 2013. Or, before you even start rolling up those form-filling sleeves of yours, here’s a suggestion: go to one of the CAPS information days. The next event, hosted by the Institut de Recherche et d’Innovation of the Centre Pompidou in Paris this October 16th, will allow you to get first-hand information from European Commission representatives themselves, chat with top-notch keynote speakers and pitch. Yes, pitch. I liked the program so much that I'm part of the organizing team this time, so shoot me an email if you're interested in coming: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you miss this one, then wait until it pops up in another European capital by regularly checking their website : http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/collectiveawareness/index_en.htm
So can startups save the world ? Perhaps not. Nevertheless, here is some startup wisdom on the subject from Dr. Sestini:
“Start small, but concrete. Not aiming at building a perfect virtual system from day 0, but at addressing some concrete social problems involving real people and existing communities.”
Clearly, more can be done with this MVP.