Switch

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

русская версия

Applications for Switch 2019 are now closed, applications will be contacted in January with the results.

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.


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.

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!

An app to track buses with lifts for wheelchair-users in real time.


This online text editor underlines text containing hate speech and provides explanations as well as suggestions for alternative phrasing.  

 

#sheisnomad is social media campaign aimed at tackling harmful gender stereotypes, empowering Central Asian girls and women, making ‘invisible data’ on gender visible, understandable, shareable and engaging.

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


Applications for Switch are now closed, applicants will be contacted in January 2019 with the results.


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.

Dr Gregory Asmolov

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow 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

Innovation advisor at the 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.

Gabriela Svárovská

Director of Programmes at the Prague Civil Society Centre

Gabriela is the head of the Centre’s Grants Programme. She has worked in politics, civil society and journalism in the Czech Republic and EU for more than 20 years, including as human rights director for the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the Office of President Václav Havel. She founded Czech MFA’s Transition Promotion Programme, a unique funding tool of Czech civil society initiatives supporting human rights and democracy abroad.