Internews Center for Innovation & Learning

Internews Center for Innovation & Learning
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Innovation Lab in Ukraine

Community is a powerful thing. Most of the greatest things that happened in US - are individually or community funded. Even the State of Liberty. Ater this great period the governement grew older and bigger covering almost any municipal changes in the state or states. Now social change is happenning. It's not about demographics or regulations - those remain the same. People want social change to happen and gain more control and participation. Intentions are different, motivation is different. It seems like Arab Spring has showed the new method of participation in the community with the help of internet. On the other hand technology is shaping the world we live in and internet itself has grown up a lot of habits in us. Those are about sharing, liking, participating in the conversation. And those new ideas and motivations need proper curation as they symbolize our development. While Sicilon Valley is an ocean of startups, Innovation Lab is an island of socially meaningful internet startups. Run by Internews Network, Innovation Labs are expanding in Eurasia -- Bosnia, Armenia, Jordan and now Ukraine. It took several months of preparations before the Lab was shaped and launched. Innovation Lab: Social Marketspace is the name for it. April 11-12 is a big holiday - the National Day of Space, that's why it got such a cool branding and Youri Gagarin as face of the Lab. And that's why Innovation Lab decided to stick to this date and actually show powerful launches of a variety of social startups in two days. Which means that 5 selected ideas will be developed during 48 hours with the help of authors of these ideas and those, whose ideas were not selected. This is also a reson why the branding is so cool. Of course the project doesn't exist alone. Internews Network has attracted a lot of partners to the project. UNDP seems to be the biggest NGO partner kindly agreed to provide financing for one of the projects that will get into TOP-5. The real technological partner is Marmalade that provided a license for native iOS app development that can be easily ported to any mobile platform like Android, WM, Symbian because of unique Marmalade technology. Other partners include Cisco Entrepreneurship Institute, New Citizen Foundation and lot of other donors, NGO's that supported the event. This kind of partnership sufficiently increased the weight of event. Most of participants were coming from regions, not Kiev thus the logistics was tough. But it was highly organized and supported by Internews Ukraine. The idea was to make a call for project ideas that are both socially meaningful and use internet for implementation. Then vote those ideas and choose best five. This was the first Innovation Lab that used internet voting and open submission of ideas. Literally anyone could submit the idea and anyone could vote on the website using Facebook Likes. During 6 weeks of active life website (innovationlab.com.ua) gathered over 80 ideas which were shorted in a list of 14 hot competing projects. The juri made a final choice for four of them when the audience of the website has selected one idea - so called people's choice. Juris made a good job on selecting 4 winning ideas. By the way the board of judges consisted from representatives of partners and other experienced industry leaders - digital agencies and specialized online media. At the end 5 ideas were selected: - Incubator of online business - All neighbours - Mobi-Help - Clean environment - People's doctor The event was chaired by Alexey Sidorenko - CEO of te-st.ru - the most prominent Russian developer of socially meaningful apps that is organizing it's own Lab in May 2012 in St. Petersburg. Other participants of the process were facilitators that were providing the ongoing support to 5 groups working on the project at actual event. Then it was a question of fate - which group gets more people on board. It really depended on the author of idea as they were giving a presentation of idea on te first day. I would be lovely to have night before the 48 hour event, so that all participants would have a chance to think about ideas and get to know each other better. At the end smallest group got 4 people and the biggest - 17. After tough 6 weeks of preparation the Lab actually happened. Last day was hard as everyone was late with their projects, something didn't work, people got tired. But pitches were fine. The board of juris was excited and surprises by results that presenters were submitting. Do less, acheive more - that's the exact reason why smaller groups win. Mobi-Help - the SMS service for disabled people won juris' hearts. The group consisted of 4 people, but still could win. Guys set up working service that utilized the basic functions of FronlineSMS. They set up a local server and basically SMS did work, group in threads and allowed the operator to work on the requests. Amazing! Now Internews Network will help this project to launch and become a national premier on helping disabled people. As the idea belongs to the author and his small NGO, that organization will take lead based on the seed-grant from Internews Network. One more surprise came up in the final moment - UNDP decided to fund one more project that basically won their heart - it's the clean-up project. Those guys will also get support and funding but from UNDP. Other happy people get gift certificates to participate in Cisco learing events. That is how the camp worked. And what about your Lab? Would you like to organize one? Simply contact the nearest Internews Network.