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IDEA CONTEST 2020
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Welcome to the Civic Innovation Platform!

AI is what we make it! What do we mean by that? Good ideas, different fields of expertise, a variety of experience, and, in particular, the shared desire to advance our society – all of these things need to come together in order to make artificial intelligence (AI) beneficial for everyone.


This platform is open to anyone who is interested in applying AI for the benefit of societal and social progress:

  • everybody who knows how AI works, how it can be used and how it is programmed;
  • everybody who has an idea of how all the knowledge that is waiting in so many databases can improve the lives and work of numerous people;
  • everybody who knows the social necessities to which AI could be an answer and
  • everybody who wants to use AI providing benefits for the common good - e.g. in the sense of social entrepreneurship – to achieve economic success.

Whether you are programmers or start-ups, companies, associations, organizations, administrations, unions or research institutions: Register and get involved. On this platform you will find like-minded people who want to work together to turn good ideas into reality.

Turn your idea into a collaboration and participate in our idea contest as a team. When technological intelligence is combined with emotional intelligence and creative intelligence with social intelligence: Then it becomes our AI.

The deadline for submission to the first round of the idea contest has passed. But: after the idea contest is before the idea contest and the community building continues! Register, upload your ideas, get together in project teams and submit your idea sketches to the next round in spring 2021. Want to know more about our idea contest? Further information can be found here.

How we support in different phases of your project

  • A person is getting out of a laptor, another person helps.

    1. Presenting ideas and finding partners

    Do you have a specific idea for making effective use of AI and thereby advancing society? On the Civic Innovation Platform you can present your idea, leave your contact data for exchange with other like-minded people and find suitable partners pursuing interests similar to your own.

  • Two persons stand in fron of a whiteboard and talk

    2. Developing the basic proposal together

    As soon as two or more project partners come together, you can jointly work on your idea and develop a basic project proposal. We will support you by extending a helping hand and providing you with material. Perhaps you’d like to initially discuss your idea or individual issues with like-minded people on an informal basis?

  • Three people sit or stand at a table and vote

    3. Proof of concept: receive up to 20,000 euros

    You can submit your complete project drafts to the idea contest. After a review and preselection by the Policy Lab Digital, Work & Society, the best ideas will be identified in an elevator pitch format. There you will have the opportunity to present your ideas and to discuss them with experts; the final decision will be up to the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Twice a year, up to 15 project drafts will be awarded with an amount of up to 20,000 euros.

  • Two people hold a huge cheque

    4. From the successful project proposal to the mature concept

    If the jury likes your idea, we will support you both financially and conceptually in the further development of your proposal. Twice anually, up to 15 project proposals are individually awarded 20,000 euros. This will culminate in a mature concept that meets the main requirements for an application under a funding programme.

  • A person connects two people digitally

    5. Turning your idea into reality with project funding of up to 250,000 euros

    This is where things really get down to business: to make sure that good ideas can turn into long-term sustainable projects, we fund up to ten projects a year with an amount of up to 250,000 each. If you like, you can present your project’s progress on the Civic Innovation Platform, keep the community informed of your successes as well as your setbacks and engage with others via various formats.

Frequently asked questions

  • 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 and collaboration between different disciplines, sectors and areas, openly and on an equal footing with the aim of developing solutions that can be put into practice.

    Civic innovation brings together various logical approaches: what unfulfilled social needs are there regionally or cross-regionally and what new technological possibilities could help to address these needs? This is where the Civic Innovation Platform steps in: it brings together actors who by pooling their individual areas of competence – such as a precise knowledge of actual needs, ideas, methodological knowledge or technical expertise – are able to jointly develop and implement innovative solutions. At the same time, the project provides access to further assistance such as consulting, competence paring and financial support.

  • The Civic Innovation Platform (CIP) is targeted at the participation-oriented, socially minded technology design of artificial intelligence and is testing various tools for supporting participatory and collaborative social innovation processes. CIP is a Policy Lab Digital, Work & Society project within the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. It is based on the German Federal Government's artificial intelligence strategy (only in German), in which the Federal Government undertakes among other things to develop and deploy AI “responsibly and for the benefit of the common good” and to embed it “in society on an ethical, legal, cultural and institutional basis within the framework of a broad social dialogue and active policymaking (...)”. In this sense, the project is striving for broad acceptance in society and the design of technology for the benefit of the common good.

  • The Civic Innovation Platform (CIP) would like to contribute to networking people from different areas (business, science, administration, civil society) with one another and thereby enabling them to develop new solutions for addressing both challenges facing society as well as needs. We want to create optimum underlying conditions that allow good ideas to evolve into innovative projects. Our attention is directed primarily toward the deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) for the benefit of everyone. Alongside the potential for innovation, the focus is also on potential for collaboration in developing ideas and projects jointly for the use of AI technology for the benefit of the common good and in putting it into practice through different types of funding as well as workshops and the provision of advice.

  • Funding is provided for innovations for the benefit of the common good that use AI technology − such as machine learning or pattern recognition. As the Civic Innovation Platform is a funding programme initiated by the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the projects need to have a clearly identifiable link to the Ministry’s activities. This includes aspects such as the future and quality of work, occupational safety, co-determination in companies, vocational training and further education, reintegration in the labour market, pensions, integration, inclusion, diversity and equal participation.

Our co-operation partners

  • Annika Krellmann

    Kommunale Gemeinschaftsstelle für Verwaltungsmanagement (KGSt)

    Anika Krellmann, Organisation and Information Management Officer at KGSt

    "Without people, AI is nothing more than a technology. We need innovations to improve living, working and general conditions in municipalities."

  • Portrait of Andreas Bethke
    © BDSV/Ziebe

    Deutscher Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverband e.V.

    Andreas Bethke, Managing Director

    "Digitalisation and artificial intelligence can take us a step forward on our path towards an inclusive society, provided that they are systematically designed and implemented on a barrier-free basis."

  •  Adriana Groh stands in front of a book shelf

    Prototype Fund

    Adriana Groh, Director

    "Funding for AI technology must aim to additionally promote developments with added social value in particular. Public funding for open-source software for the benefit of the common good of the type operated by the Prototype Fund renders civil society visible as a driver of innovation and an important partner."

  • Matthias Peissner standing in front of a wall.

    Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO

    Dr Matthias Peissner, Director at the Institute, Head of Human-Technology Interaction Research Unit

    "The technologies of artificial intelligence, particularly machine learning, harbour potential for radical change in nearly all parts of the economy and our lives. Ultimately, however, it always boils down to the question as to what contribution a technological innovation can make towards a better world. And AI can indeed!"

  • Katrin Elsemann standing in a room

    Social Entrepreneurship Netzwerk Deutschland e.V.

    Katrin Elsemann, Managing Director

    "Our society is facing major upheavals. Climate change, demographic trends, urbanisation, the digitalisation of the working world and integration are just a few of these."

  • Oliver Suchy of the Deutsche Gewerkschaftsbund talks in front of people

    German Trade Union Confederation (DGB)

    Oliver Suchy, Head of Digital Working Worlds and Working-World Reporting

    "We hope that the Civic Innovation Platform will unleash new momentum making AI an even more fertile basis for good work and social inclusion."

  • Paul Wolter

    Bundesverband Deutsche Startups e.V.

    Paul Wolter, Politics & Communication Team Leader

    "AI is one of the key technologies of the future and is already playing an important role for start-ups today. As we see it, it is of crucial importance for this technology to be used for business models geared to the common good."

  • Gerhard Timm
    © BAGFW/Dirk Hasskarl

    Federal Association of Non-statutory Welfare (BAGFW)

    Dr Gerhard Timm, Managing Director

    "AI technologies will change our world profoundly over the coming years and decades. There are very alarming scenarios of a totalitarian state that uses AI to cement old relationships rooted in exploitation for the future. However, there are also scenarios in which these technologies are harnessed to advance humanist values."

    Image: © BAGFW/Dirk Hasskarl

  • Daniel Abbou, ein Mann mit Brille, steht vor einer Backsteinmauer.

    German AI Association

    Daniel Abbou, Managing Director

    "KI Bundesverband (the German AI Association) is very pleased to be involved in the Civic Innovation Platform as a partner. Artificial intelligence can unleash positive effects in many areas of society."

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