UNLOCK 2022: New ideas addressing knowledge equity

Accessible Knowledge

Within the third edition of the Wikimedia Accelerator UNLOCK, seven innovative, bold, engaging, diverse projects will be supported and go through the accelerator. The UNLOCK program team is very excited to welcome passion-driven project teams with a social entrepreneurial spirit and a goal of achieving more equitable access to knowledge, information and data.

UNLOCK is a program by Wikimedia Deutschland (WMDE). For this year’s edition, we joined forces with Wikimedia Serbia (WMRS) to promote and strengthen cross-regional and cross-affiliate collaboration. Besides, we also teamed up with Impact Hub Belgrade – an organization from the innovation ecosystem.

New ideas addressing knowledge equity: UNLOCK 2022 projects

Seven innovative, bold, engaging and diverse projects – with a total of 24 participants from Albania, Germany, Montenegro and Serbia – will be supported within the UNLOCK program. These projects show and have convinced us throughout the selection process with new perspectives for free knowledge – and addressing knowledge equity – in different regional as well as thematic contexts: 

  • activist.org – an open source platform that breaks down barriers to becoming politically active and thereby connects people and organizations from different social and activist movements. 
  • Game of political participation – encouraging young people in the Western Balkans to familiarize themselves with political decision making and political systems through elements of gamification.
  • f[ai]r – establishing an ethics certification for digital applications through a holistic examination of the AI system in the social context, addressing aspects of bias, discrimination, diversity and inclusion.
  • Inclusio – providing user-generated audio descriptions of visual content to the blind and visually impaired. Ideally the solution could be connected and tested on structured data in Wikimedia Commons.
  • macht.sprache. – fostering politically sensitive translation through an open source platform that allows for crowdsourcing and discussing politically sensitive terms and their translations, and through a tool to help translate with sensitivity.
  • MOCI SPACE – a digital space to connect activists, grassroots initiatives and civil society actors in the Western Balkans and that allows for co-creating, publishing and sharing knowledge by making use of the Matrix protocol for federated communication.
  • P2P Wiki for indigenous wisdom and biodiversity – an open source tool to collect and safeguard indigenous knowledge, and to raise awareness about biodiversity with a P2P offline-first methodology.

Looking back: The selection process

For this year’s open call we received 34 applications from 12 countries and a total of 104 applicants. Out of these 104, 53% are from the Western Balkans region, 24% from the German-speaking area and 23% “others” (incl. people from European and non-European countries; plus those without information). The selection process included several review stages: 

Stage 1 – Initial review of all applications based on their program fit: While many outstanding project ideas exist, not all of them might fit into our program scope and focus. The criteria “program fit” aims at figuring out whether UNLOCK is the right program for the project in question, considering the status of the project and the fulfillment of our basic requirements for participation.

Stage 2 – Detailed assessment of all applications based on their idea fit; and ranking of recommended candidates that should be shortlisted: The criteria “idea fit” aims at finding projects and initiatives that make a valuable contribution to the thematic focus of the program: Knowledge Equity. We are looking for fresh ideas and new concepts that are not only feasible, but also have great potential for impact, demonstrate awareness and differentiation from other, similar projects, and properly meet the needs of the selected target groups. For this, we involved a jury who acted as an advisory board, lending their diverse expertise, experience and knowledge to the process. With this they supported us in properly assessing the applications, and shortlisted 10 teams for the final assessment stage (stage 3). The members of this year’s jury included:

  • Greta Doçi, Software Engineer at Nextcloud & Board Member Wikimedians of Albanian Language User Group
  • Hanna Petruschat, Head of Design at Wikimedia Deutschland
  • Gaia Montelatici, Co-Founder & CEO at Impact Hub Belgrade
  • Giulia Berti, Program Manager at Impact Hub Belgrade

Stage 3 – Get to know the shortlisted project teams in an online call, checking for team fit and clarify any open questions: While we see it as our mission to pass on certain values and mindsets on to the teams during the program, the criteria “team fit” indicates what the ideal team should bring along right from the start. While participants should combine all important skills that are necessary for the development of their idea, we are also looking for drive, a collaborative mindset and social spirit. 

The information received in those three stages helped us – the program team – make an informed decision upon who and which projects will be supported.

Looking forward: The UNLOCK journey

Last Thursday (June 30) and Friday (July 1), we virtually launched the official program together with all 24 participants. On these two days we set the stage for the program – highlighting the purpose and desired outcomes, clarifying expectations, roles and responsibilities as well as jointly co-creating with all involved people a playbook including values that should guide us through the upcoming journey. This program is not a typical grant/funding program that exists within our movement; instead it’s a support environment with several key elements that will help projects to be validated, tested and prototyped. In the next four months we will support the teams with coaching, a variety of workshops with experts, regular exchanges and funding. WMDE and WMRS will be responsible for designing and facilitating the cross-team events and workshops; whereas  Impact Hub Belgrade will provide need-oriented coaching and mentoring with regards to project and product development. At the end of the program, team members will have the chance to share their work at the Demo day. 

Support by the Movement Strategy Implementation Grant

The costs for the design and implementation of the UNLOCK Accelerator 2022 is covered by WMDE as well as by the Movement Strategy Implementation Grant. WMDE and WMRS jointly applied for the grant. The requested and approved grant of EUR 74.062,40 will be used to cover the costs incurred by WMRS and Impact Hub Belgrade only. This includes personnel and operating costs that are necessary for their respective involvement for the implementation of the program. This grant is of great importance to the partners, as their own budget is very tight or has been allocated elsewhere and other in-kind options are not possible. More details about the grant can be found here.

More insights and updates

We also encourage you to take a look at the recent episode of the WIKIMOVE podcast, where we talked about the UNLOCK accelerator program, how it is being implemented in collaboration with WMRS and WMDE this year, and explore how the movement can become more of an innovation ecosystem.

For updates about the projects and the program itself can be found on the UNLOCK website. Or feel free to follow us on UNLOCK Twitter or UNLOCK LinkedIn.