FAQ - Civic Innovation Platform

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

The most frequently asked questions about the project can be found here:


What is the model project Civic Innovation Platform?

  • 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 regional or cross-regional social needs are there 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 advice, knowledge-sharing and financial support.

  • The Civic Innovation Platform (CIP) model project 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 [...]”. Thus, the project is striving for broad-based acceptance in society and design of technology for the benefit of the common good.

  • The Civic Innovation Platform 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.

How does the Civic Innovation Platform (CIP) work?

  • The platform has a public area as well as a password-protected area. All of our services and offerings can be enjoyed free of charge.


    The public area offers insight into the world of civic technology, open innovation and the concept of open AI innovations for creating added value for society. What opportunities do these new approaches offer, who are the actors and where can good examples be found? Where did a project fail “productively” and what insights can be derived from it? In addition, the platform provides information about the Ideas Market and the funding that we offer.

    Ideas Market

    Here, project ideas for which cooperation partners are being sought are presented in short outlines. Registered users can obtain detailed information in the members-only community area and establish contacts with the idea owners.

    Good project examples

    By providing examples of good projects, we offer an idea of what kinds of AI projects generate benefits for the common good. They are offered as inspiration and show in line with a “good practices” philosophy what approaches are already being pursued. Interested persons can use these as a source of inspiration for projects of their own.

  • Who can register and how?

    Anyone interested in developing and implementing AI projects for the common good, no matter whether they are private individuals, start-ups, research institutions or public-sector bodies. The more diverse the range of users, the better the results.


    In the members-only part of the platform, registered users will find additional information, content and extensive networking functions. All you need for registering is a valid email address. Only the data absolutely required is collected. Detailed information can be found in the privacy statement.

    Create a profile

    When you register, you can create a profile setting out your skills and interests within the AI community. This way, you can present yourself and/or your organisation and find the contact data for other interesting projects as a possible basis for sharing. You can edit or delete the information in your profile any time. Only the data absolutely required for the platform is collected. Detailed information can be found in the privacy statement.

    Submitting projects to the Ideas Market

    Using an online form, you can submit project ideas, present them in detail and also edit the information you provide. In addition, you can contact potential partners and exchange thoughts.

    Matching potential project partners

    In the members-only area, potential project partners can contact each other and discuss ideas for which contacts are being sought – both new ones and ones have already been submitted.


    Various communities and project partners can network with each other in the password-protected community area. This is aided by the platform’s matching function that brings together possible project partners, e.g. from other funding organisations, civil society, start-ups, SMEs, trade unions or public administration.

    Service area

    This is where you can find information on funding possibilities and assistance with partnership agreements as well as details for contacting others.

How does the funding work?

  • Funding is provided to innovations oriented towards benefiting the common good which 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 themes 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 access.

  • The Civic Innovation Platform pursues a holistic approach as we provide both financial and non-financial assistance. Collaborative projects that are still in its early phases can apply for prize money via an idea contest. The purpose of this prize money is to support further work on developing the ideas. To augment this, we also offer advice and access to networks and workshops on various topics relevant to the project. Project collaborations that are already pursuing more advanced, cross-sector ideas can also apply for conventional project funding that provides grants for the implementation of innovative AI applications. 

    Idea contest

    The idea contest supports the proof of concept process for an idea. The aim is to develop an idea further through collaborative partnership so as to provide the basis for transforming it into a viable concept that is eligible for funding. To achieve this, ideas are checked for their feasibility in an open and integrative process. The best innovative project ideas are awarded prize money of up to 20,000 euros, which is paid out in three instalments, each of which is tied to various conditions (participation in workshops, progress of the idea). The process should culminate in a final concept for implementing the idea.

    Project funding

    The purpose of project funding is to support the collaborative and creative implementation of AI-based projects on a long-term and diverse basis. As with the idea contest, funding is only available for cross-sector collaborative projects (e.g. start-up with a municipality) which are clearly aligned to providing benefiting the common good. Projects can receive up to 250,000 euros in funding. Further information on project funding will be published on the platform in due course. Prior participation in the idea contest is not required.

  • The CIP supports innovation processes in five phases, depending on the stage the project has reached. It is not necessary for all phases to have been completed consecutively in order to receive support.

    1. Phase 1: Develop ideas, find partners
    2. Phase 2: Develop basic proposal, check eligibility
    3. Phase 3: Idea contest − proof of concept
    4. Phase 4: Submit application for funding
    5. Phase 5: Implement and transfer

How does the contest work?

  • Both the idea contest and project funding are available to a wide range of different organisations and actors. There are no restrictions. Applications are welcome from private individuals, associations, scientists, start-ups, companies, self-employed persons, initiatives and public-sector organisations. It doesn’t matter whether the institution has been recently established or if it has been in existence for some time.  

    What is decisive, however, is that the contest entry or the project contribute to embedding AI in society and entail collaborative development and implementation. Accordingly, all entries must exhibit networking beyond the respective sector – e.g. collaboration between a social organisation and a start-up. By funding these innovative project partnerships, the Policy Lab of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is seeking to promote new forms of collaboration. In this way, CIP would like to make a contribution towards strengthening the potential of diverse and perhaps also unconventional partnerships. The reason for including a wide range of different actors is to ensure that the use of new technologies is always viewed from many different angles, thus reinforcing the long-term benefits for the common good.

    1. Outline your idea

      Ideas can be outlined and submitted in the form of an abstract in the password-protected community area. Only brief descriptions are visible in the public area. Ideas must be submitted in German or English.

    2. Find your project partner(s)

      Do you have a good idea but haven’t found a project partner yet? The CIP Ideas Market lets you search for partners for your own ideas or respond to corresponding enquiries. The more precisely you describe your project idea, the greater the probability of finding the appropriate partner and establishing a partnership swiftly.

    3. Give the idea more shape together

      As soon as you have assembled your team, you can start jointly working on your idea and developing a proposal.

    4. Submit joint idea proposal

      You can submit outlines of your ideas to the password-protected community area of the Civic Innovation Platform using a special form. You will then receive an email confirming that your idea has been successfully submitted to the platform.

    5. Receive funding

      If your proposal satisfies the criteria for funding and impresses us, we will grant you a sum of 20,000 euros to support your idea and further work on it to turn it into a realisable concept plan. On top of this, we will support you with workshops, coaching and other offers of assistance. The prize money will be awarded for up to 15 ideas per contest.

  • If your submitted draft fulfils the formal requirements, a panel of experts will review it. Afterwards, the best ideas will be determined from among all the submissions and the candidates will be invited to a pitch. Here, you will then have the opportunity to present your idea to a selected group of people in an elevator pitch.

  • The winning projects are selected on the basis of the following criteria:

    • Relevance for the areas of activity of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (basic prerequisite)
    • Cross-sector project partnership (basic prerequisite)
    • Expected added value/benefit for the common good
    • Planned use of AI technology
    • Innovative character and model nature of the project
    • Sustainability and scope for transfer
  • Yes, this is allowed, provided that there is a project partnership (the same one or a different one) for each submission.

  • It is possible to take part in multiple contests.

  • The submitters selected will be notified in advance before the presentation date.