Internews Center for Innovation & Learning

Internews Center for Innovation & Learning
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Innovation Lab in Russia - the first TEST Camp

"Do it Yourself" - is a festival on civic activities. The most promising and innovative event I've seen in CIS that is pioneering social change and civic impact. As a part of it the first TESTCamp took place on May 12-13 in St. Petersburg.

TESTCamp is a creative laboratory where technical people meet NGO leaders. The main goal is to create prototypes of interactive applications that are aimed at solving socially meaningful problems. As a local event for one city it recieves 40 application forms and chose 5 to be developed at the event, which is good result. Most of them offered to improve infrastructure of the city, waste management, uniting different social groups or helping unprotected social groups like pensioners, orphans, etc. The voting was conducted via social voting at the website, but the final vote was done by judges on the last day of event: Dmitry Lukashev, Segey Mishenko, Alexander Karpov, Olga Vshivtseva, Gleba Kalinina. 

5 projects passed the finals:

Overall conclusion: very inspiring event with a lot of interesting drama and stories that people brought to the event. Considering the fact that this event was organized locally in St. Petersberg makes it very special. It's very similar to Armenian camp, but still even more local. I would like to add some details on three issues that repeat from camp to camp. I mean we really have to focus on them each and every time as they influence event the most.

Who -- Participants and team balance: Participants were very creative and inspired by the event. Even given a limited number of people in the team never stopped to develop. I really liked that there were people of a different age - from 18 to 50. It's amazing when both are in the same team and share their visions. As usual there were not enough coders. Logically there should be some dynamic team, ready to join the camp and dedicate 2 days to the work, but this is something we never tested yet.

How -- Selection and Voting: It's great that all projects were voted online and results are open. On the other hand open selection is not strong enough to selected the strongest. Sometimes this are projects that are cool, or those that have the bigger number of Facebook friends. I think it makes sense to involve judges and make very conscious voting for greater results. It's obvious that it's good to give people more power, but it should be limited to 1-2 projects, others - may be voted by judges and results may be openly published. I guess no VC fund would rely on crowdsourced selection of projects to their portfolio.

Where -- Venue: Loft "Etazhi" is an amazing and magical place. It's a center of creativity and good people. This is really inspiring and influencing. Many people in teams felt this, and my guess is that this is a good alternative to taking event out of the city.