Innovation Challenge 2018: First Round Facts

May 22 we closed the first round of Innovation Challenge 2018. We were amazed at the great turnout, 101 applications in total! Civil Rights Defenders would like to thank all of the participants for making this an incredibly fun and exciting competition.

Let’s look at some of the statistics:

Today, 31 May, we officially open the second round. The remaining participants will for example share information on vision, project plan and budget.

Besides the success stories, this blog post also presents an opportunity to share some lessons learned.

“To simply train people just isn’t innovative. A new approach to trainings on the other hand might be. Unfortunately, we saw many applications for the former, and none for the latter.” — Mathias Antonsson, Innovation Initiative

The Innovation Challenge promotes innovation, meaning something new. This can mean many things, for example an existing product or service applied in a new context, or developing a new feature on something already existing, or on rare occasions something truly groundbreaking. Unfortunately, we saw many applicants applying for funding to their current and regular business. As good and exciting as it might be, it contains nothing new, nothing innovative.

Compared to last year’s competition we also saw, percentage wise, fewer applicants suggesting developing new prototypes or frameworks. For example many suggested conducting workshops or trainings, naturally a very important aspect for learning, however on topics where trainings already exists, and therefore offering little new in terms of innovation. If the suggestion would have included prototyping a different framework, approach or content presentation etc., if that would have been the focus, it could have served as a proof of concept for future workshops or trainings. That would have been innovative.

We also had a few ideas sent to us that were great project ideas, but did not include a focus on human rights defenders.

“It’s heartbreaking when you come across a great idea that is out of scope for the competition. One that your heart supports, but we can’t justify based on our mission.” — Mathias Antonsson, Innovation Initiative

Another core aspect in our review was how defender-centric the idea is. Does this respond to a real need for human rights defenders? Are human rights defenders part of the development? Are human rights defenders the target audience? Is the end result beneficial to human rights defenders? Civil Rights Defenders works with hundreds of human rights defenders in more than 30 countries across the world, so to serve them well, we are scouting for ideas that improve their situation, their security and impact.

In the end, we decided on 16 applicants to let through to the second round. Stay tuned for more information about some of these applicants.

We particularly want to extend our appreciation and support to the unsuccessful applicants. Despite the outcome, we hope you will join us again next time. Thank you so very much for applying!