The Project - Civic Innovation Platform

About the Civic Innovation Platform (CIP)

What we have planned

Our society is changing possibly more quickly than ever before under the influence of new technologies. Digitalisation and the growing penetration of applications based on artificial intelligence (AI) into many areas of life are not only triggering a technological transformation but also unleashing structural, organisational and cultural changes.

Whereas innovations based on new technologies are being systematically enabled and promoted in scientific fields and in business thanks to established methods, instruments and corresponding funding possibilities, similar resources for participatory innovation processes in the area of socially-minded technological design are available at best only sporadically. Against this backdrop, the Policy Lab Digital, Work & Society, a subdivision of the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has initiated the Civic Innovation Platform (CIP) model project to explore how impetus for AI applications to drive social and societal progress can be supported effectively – from the initial idea and concept development right through to implementation and transfer.

A new way of promoting innovation: as open and diverse as our society

The project not only provides financial support but also promotes networking, collaboration, and mutual advice. The Civic Innovation Platform offers a joint forum along the lines of an open innovation idea for this purpose. In this way, new and perhaps at first glance unconventional partnerships can work on innovative projects that address specific social needs. In this sense the Civic Innovation Platform is not a finite entity: it sees itself as a component and element of a growing AI ecosystem for the common good to which it seeks to contribute its capabilities and which it wants to actively help expand and shape.

The potential of civic innovation

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 on level playingfield with the aim of developing solutions that can be put into practice.

Such a process needs time and freedom. With our funding programme we want to create optimum underlying conditions that allow good ideas to be turned into innovative projects as a basis for developing useful applications. In this regard, the focus is on technical ideas that strengthen engagement, inclusion and participation, promote communication, and support the adoption of digital technology in society. With concrete societal needs as the starting point, this benefits all parties involved – the project partners, citizens, and, not least of all, the development of the technology itself.

Turning joint ideas into projects

Ideas arise in a creative process. We want to provide the optimum financial basis for this through an idea contest. In addition to being awarded prize money of up to 20,000 euros, the best project ideas will also receive non-financial support in the form of conceptual advice and workshops (more information). In a subsequent step, the idea contest will be supplemented by a further funding programme. To ensure that good ideas can be turned into good practical applications, project funding can also be requested for concepts with a more advanced stage of development. Under the applicable funding rules (more information), support of up to 250,000 euros is available for project partnerships.