Switch

Русская версия

Switch is the Prague Civil Society Centre’s grant scheme for tech solutions to social issues across Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

It is designed for anybody with an idea that uses technology to transform their society, spread their message, push for change or improve their community.

We are currently welcoming applications for funding under the first ever Switch scheme, and are looking to kick-start new ideas, turn prototypes into projects, and help civic tech initiatives scale-up.


Sketches created by Medialab.am


Why Switch?

Across Eastern Europe and Central Asia, technology is being used in a host of exciting and innovative civic campaigns. People, groups and individuals who have never considered themselves part of ‘civil society’ are often the most disruptive, creative and effective at recognising, addressing and devising solutions to a range of social problems.

Switch is designed to kick-start and push forward these initiatives, within ‘civil society’ and beyond, from famous organisations with a track-record of serving their communities to technology professionals designing apps to raise awareness of climate change, bloggers and journalists using maps and drones to investigate corruption and conflict, or the social entrepreneur launching a new online shop. Those people who are trying to improve their society, raise money for their community and engage the public in changing policy.


Who are we looking for?

Switch is open to any individual, group or organisation which has a tech-based solution to a social problem, or a project to change their society. You can be an activist, an IT professional, a journalist, blogger, campaigner, social entrepreneur, fully-fledged NGO or none of the above. We don’t care what box you tick, as long as you can think outside of it and tell us how you are going to make your city, village, country, or the entire region, more conscious, tolerant, open, informed or empowered.

You should live and work in one – or more – of the countries displayed in yellow on the map below. However, projects do not have to be country-specific, and we encourage cross-border initiatives or ideas which can be replicated or scaled-up across the region.

We are also really interested to hear from people who have never received a grant of this kind before, or who have difficult accessing funding. And, we look for original, unorthodox and creative partnerships – those which bring people from different industries, backgrounds, cities and countries together, and which show the power of collaboration and teamwork.


What are we looking for?

Just as we are ready to work with anybody who has an idea or a project ready to go, we also place no restrictions on the kind of ideas or projects we support. The only limit is financial – we’ll offer up to €8,000 per initiative – and that you must use technology to address a social problem. In your proposal, you should be able to talk about the problem you want to fix, and why you, and your chosen solution, should be selected.

We prefer solutions which are in the more-advanced stages of development, so that you can scale-up your project at short notice. That means if your new gadget or app is at a prototype stage, or if you could launch a new website or pilot a new service within a few months, we definitely want to hear from you. But don’t be put off if you only have a few notes on a piece of paper – if you can show it will work, we’re ready to help.

Our expert selection panel of tech and civic experts from around the world – Douglas Arellanes, Dr Gregory Asmolov and Filip Noubel  – have decades of experience in their fields, and are looking for projects which have the potential to grow quickly, and can be replicated in other cities and countries, adding to the collective knowledge and experience of tech activism.

Think you’re a match? Then fill in our application form below by Sunday 5 November and one of our team will get in touch with you to discuss your idea in more detail.


What do we offer?

Switch provides financial support of up to €8,000 per project. Projects should be designed to run over a 12-month period. In addition to our grants, our team can also provide strategic feedback on your ideas, connect you with activists and campaigners from across the region, and suggest events, workshops and match-making sessions which you can attend.

We consider those we fund to be our partners, and we’ll help you promote your project, and give you the opportunity to spread your expertise, experience and insight among the Prague Civil Society Centre’s network at our international events such as Unlock and CampCamp.


How to apply?

Applying for Switch is a four-stage process (but don’t be put off):

1. Tell us about the problem you are trying to solve, and why your project deserves to be funded using the form below.

2. We’ll get in touch and ask for some more details about you, the tech you’re going to use and how much it will cost.

3. If we like the idea, we’ll conduct a short online interview to get to know you and your project a little better. Here you will also get the chance to ask any questions you may have about Switch.

4. Present your idea to an expert jury and fellow applicants at a Pitch Day in Prague in early 2018 to refine your project and finalise the grant details

Final selection of winning applications is made by our expert jury of civil society representatives and technology professionals

The deadline for initial proposals is Sunday 5 November. Each organisation, initiative or individual is only permitted to submit one application.


Apply for Switch

There are only 12-15 places in the first Switch cohort and we expect the application process to be highly competitive. Please do not be disappointed if you are not invited to the latter application stages. If we invite you to the Pitch Day it means we’re serious about funding your project, and we’ll cover the costs of bringing you to Prague, including providing assistance with any visa issues.

Good luck!


Expert Jury

Douglas Arellanes

Technologist & Developer

Douglas is a technologist and software developer working primarily with news organisations. He was a co-founder and Director of Innovation at Sourcefabric, a Czech NGO which creates technology for independent media. He is also a lecturer on media and technology at Anglo-American University in Prague. Previously he has worked as a new media consultant for the Media Development Loan Fund, Special Projects Director at Contactel and co-founder of First Tuesday Praha, an organisation which supports internet startups. He is a translator from Czech to English, and hosts music programs on Prague’s Radio 1.

Douglas sits on the Board of the Prague Civil Society Centre.

Veronika Divisova

Sourcefabric

Veronika helps Sourcefabric, a Czech-based NGO which creates open source software for media organisations, develop international partnerships. She works with technology experts, news organisations and NGOs across the world. She has been with Sourcefabric for five years and has worked on projects including tech support for independent online news organisations in Azerbaijan and youth-led online radio projects in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Veronika has a background in political science and linguistics, and spent 10 years working in international humanitarian aid, human rights support and civil society development.

Dr Gregory Asmolov

King’s College London

Dr Gregory Asmolov is Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Russia Institute at King’s College London, researching the role of digital platforms in crisis situations such as natural disasters and conflicts. Gregory’s current research project explores how ICT changes the lives of people who are far from a zone of conflict, and how it contributes to their participation in warfare.

Gregory served as a visiting lecturer at the Higher School of Economics  in Moscow. He was a technology and social media consultant for the World Bank and the Internews Network, and worked as a research assistant at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. He also has extensive experience working in the media, as a journalist for Kommersant and Novaya Gazeta, and as a news editor for Israeli TV. He a recipient of the Russian National Internet Award (2010) for co-founding Help Map – a crowdsourcing platform to coordinate assistance to victims of wildfires in Russia.

Gregory holds a BA in Communication and International Affairs from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, an MA in Global Communication from George Washington University, and aPhD in Media and Communications from LSE.

Filip Noubel

Prague Civil Society Centre

Filip is the Centre’s innovations adviser, designing programmes and workshops to help activists master new technologies and thinking to harness the power of civic innovation. Filip has worked on media and communications projects with groups including the United Nations, Internews and the Institute for War and Peace Reporting across Europe, China and Asia.