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 give functioning civic tech initiatives the boost they need to scale-up and reach the next level.
Last year over 100 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 below.
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 develop 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’re making 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?
If you make it to the pitching stage, and impress the jury, your project could be in line for a €8,000 boost. To get to this stage you will need to show us how you are already using technology to address social problem and why your solution should be selected.
For this round of Switch, we only want to hear from people who have a functioning project. It could be small scale or well established – we don’t mind as long as you can prove the concept works.
Our expert selection panel includes tech and civic experts from around the world, with decades of experience in their fields, and who 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 successful Switch projects!
Buss Tracker App
Armenian Camp (Armenia)
Armenian Camp is an NGO in Yerevan. They successfully pitched their idea to us for an app that tracks buses in Yerevan equipped with special lifts for passengers in wheelchairs. Watch and see how the idea became reality and the challenges they face.
The bot was created to help investigative journalists search databases to find data on corrupt procurement and officials. Kloop is now sharing this resource with other media outlets in Central Asia to help them improve the quality and quantity of investigative journalism in the region.
IDP Rights App
Gorenie created an app for IDPs in Ukraine to provide up to date information, a portal through which to communicate with lawyers, and uses step-by-step solution algorithms to generate ready filled templates for IDPs. The App has been downloaded more than 1000 times is being promoted through face to face meetings and a partnership with state institutions.
What do we offer?
Switch provides the chance to pitch to different investors in Prague to receive financial support of up to €8,000 per project. Projects should be designed to run over a 12-month period. In addition to the chance of investment, 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.
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 your project, 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 project 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, investors and technology professionals
Deadline: 30 December 2019