Our society is changing more quickly than perhaps ever before under the influence of new technologies. Digitalisation and the growing penetration of applications based on AI in many areas of life are not only triggering a technological transformation but also unleashing structural, organisational and cultural changes.
In contrast to scientific and economic fields, there are only sporadic resources available for innovation processes when it comes to social technology design. Against this backdrop, the Policy Lab Digital, Work and Society at the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has initiated the Civic Innovation Platform (CIP) project to look at how impetus for AI applications for advancing progress in society can be supported effectively – from the initial idea and developing the concept right through to implementation.
In doing so, we are relying on a new way of promoting innovation which is as open and diverse as society. Accordingly, we don’t merely provide financial support; we also focus on networking, collaboration, and mutual advice.
We define “civic innovation” as innovation processes where the driving impetus comes from within society – from people, associations, companies, organisations, and institutions – and which are aimed at improving the living conditions of the general public. On top of this, we see it as encompassing all innovations that aim to advance progress in society and systematically integrate the relevant social actors and groups. The concept is based on sharing between different disciplines, sectors, and areas openly and on an equal footing with the aim of developing solutions that can be put into practice.
Our aim is to identify and support new ideas and projects for the use of AI applications for the common good to solve social issues and thus to disseminate the knowledge and usability of AI in (civil) society. To this end, we connect and support actors from a wide range of fields and industries who want to use AI technologies for social and societal innovation for the benefit of as many people as possible
With our two-stage funding concept, we strive to create the ideal framework conditions to further our aim:
with our idea contest ‘AI is what we make it’, we support the development of the most promising ideas for AI applications for the common good into viable concepts (proof of concept). In addition to prize money of up to €20,000, the teams behind the winning ideas will also receive support in the form of advisory, networking and workshop services (click here for more information about the idea contest). In order to turn good ideas into reality, we support project groups that are more advanced conceptually with our funding guidelines ‘Civic Innovation – Funding of AI Projects for the Common Good’ to help them develop and deploy workable AI applications for the common good with a bearing on labour and social policy. A joint project is funded with a maximum of €500,000 from federal government funds for a joint project (click here for more information on project funding).
The Civic Innovation Platform does not stand alone, but is part of Civic Coding!
True to the CIP motto ‘AI is what we make it’, CIP is an integral component of ‘Civic Coding – Innovation Network for AI for the Common Good’, the joint initiative of the Federal Ministries of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS), for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) and for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV).
The aim of the initiative is to build a visible and effective innovation network that supports and safeguards the development and use of artificial intelligence for the common good in the long term. This is why the three Ministries are joining forces, connecting infrastructures, linking communities and bringing projects together. The result is an AI innovation network for sociotechnical design – to strengthen society’s digital sovereignty, for the environment, the world of work and for our social coexistence.
To achieve our common goal, we have integrated the restricted community area of the Civic Innovation Platform within the Civic Coding website. This is because, as part of a growing Civic Coding community, the full potential for topics, networking and sharing across community and departmental boundaries can be harnessed: do you want to help social innovations based on digital technologies emerge from the heart of society, combat the shortage of skilled workers, protect the environment, use data for public interest engagement and much more? Then join the Civic Coding community, which offers a space for interdisciplinary networking across sector, industry and departmental boundaries.
Register now at www.civic-coding.de and become part of a growing community!