Project and mission - Civic Innovation Platform

The project

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 and become part of a growing community!

The four principles of the Civic Innovation Platform

Our goal is the human-centric use of AI for the benefit of the common good. In this regard, social technology design means taking up impulses from (civil) society, promoting cooperation and collaboration across all areas and taking into account and integrating their diverse resources and interests.

To this end, the Civic Innovation Platform provides an infrastructure that enables partners from different sectors – such as the public sector, business, the scientific community as well as civil society actors – to discover aligned interests and to work jointly on developing and implementing ideas. 

With the integration of CIP into Civic Coding, the three ministries BMAS (Mouseover: German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs), BMUV (Mouseover: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection) and BMFSFJ (Mouseover: German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth) are joining forces so that an even larger and more diverse network is created and the use of AI for the common good is thus integrated, networked and driven forward in line with demand.

  • How can technological progress be turned into social progress? Innovation research tells us that this is not done by a lone genius working on their own, tapping their inspiration from within. Rather, it comes from the fertile exchange between different people with their own unique knowledge, experience, and skill sets.

    However, for new ideas to arise in society, commitment is not sufficient on its own. Depending on the phase reached by the innovation process, you also need infrastructures, resources, visibility, and scope for experimentation. Therefore, the Civic Innovation Platform aims to develop good frameworks for societal innovation based on AI technologies and is also part of Civic Coding to jointly promote the deployment and use of AI for the common good.

  • One key prerequisite for developing AI providing benefits for the common good is to network actors from the public sector, society, the research community, and business. The platform is targeted at anyone interested in this and who wishes to work with others on ideas and specific projects.

    Our goal is to support networking as well as collaboration between a wide variety of different disciplines, sectors, and areas on a sustained basis. The aim here is a means of opening up scope for the development of civil society and for the deployment of AI.

    This is achieved particularly effectively by bundling the strengths of the three houses in Civic Coding, as this provides an even broader range of topics and an even more diverse innovation network for AI providing benefits for the common good.

  • The Civic Innovation Platform recognises the knowledge, commitment, and inventiveness of actors. This applies equally to actors who have few resources but still wish to render their creativity visible and usable. An important prerequisite is both financial and ideational support. CIP also promotes good ideas in the early and development phases, as well as longer-term project work, so all actors have the opportunity to contribute.

    In addition, we support projects and plans together with our partners from civil society, the research community, business, and the public sector beyond a purely financial dimension. Sharing among all parties is promoted via workshops. Learning opportunities convey beneficial knowledge that can also be used beyond our two-tier funding programme.

  • In many areas, we are not yet able to fully imagine and implement possible AI applications. We see great value in peer-to-peer exchange and therefore bring the community together again and again in various formats to inspire each other, learn from each other and cooperate.

Become part of the community!

Do you have an idea for AI providing benefits for the common good or would you like to benefit from our lively AI innovation network? Then become part of the Civic Coding community and exchange ideas with like-minded people.