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 – in the broadest sense – to transform their society, spread their message, push for change or improve their community.
Switch looks to kick-start new ideas, turn prototypes into projects, and help civic tech initiatives scale-up.
Last year over 200 applied to Switch and we invited the best 20 to pitch for funding in Prague. After one day of mentoring, pitching day gave each group four minutes to sell their idea to our jury. You can get a taste of the pitching day experience in the video. The ideas were innovative, imaginative and above all, realistic.
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.
Sketches created by Medialab.am
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 difficulties 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?
We’re ready to provide financial support of up to €8,000 for each initiative. In return, we want to see a solid plan for how you are going to use technology to address a social problem. In your proposal, you should be able to clearly and concisely explain the problem you want to fix, and why you and your chosen solution should be selected.
For this round of Switch, we only want to hear from people who have a prototype ready to show us. We love great ideas, but we’re looking for people who have already started putting their ideas into practice. Show us a prototype, and we’ll consider your application. Prototypes help us – and applicants – discover the potential of your idea, and also give us an insight into the limitations and possible risks.
Our expert selection panel of tech and civic experts from around the world – Douglas Arellanes, Dr Gregory Asmolov, Gabriela Svárovská 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.
Lastly, we want to see sustainable solutions. Show us a plan, a business model, or a strategy for how your project and product can live, develop and scale-up beyond Switch.
Looking for Inspiration?
Take a look at some of last year’s successful projects!
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 and prototype, 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 and prototype to an expert jury and fellow applicants at a Pitch Day in Prague in early 2019 to refine your project and finalise the grant details
The final selection of winning applications is made by our expert jury of civil society representatives and technology professionals
Apply for Switch
There are limited places in the second 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.
Deadline for applications will be 7 December 2018. We will only accept one application per organization.