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The Global Innovation Competition: Lessons Learned & Looking Ahead

News | September 1, 2014

The Global Innovation Competition (GIC) is a central part of the Making All Voices Count programme, aimed at supporting effective democratic governance and accountability.

Its competitive nature is intended to bring out the most innovative and inspiring ideas for 12 key countries, which radically rethink the routes to accountable responsive governance.

Having completed the first Global Innovation Competition in April 2014, this year the programme will embark on its second competition, launching September 15, and this blog reflects on the lessons learned and, based on that learning, the changes made to the GIC 2015.

GIC 2015 poster pink

GIC 2015

Accessibility and regional disparity

The first Global Innovation Competition well exceeded expectations; over 250 submissions were received and 196 deemed eligible. These entries came from over 40,000 users, received over 60,000 votes and more than 10,000 comments. Many of these ideas were grassroots projects, enabling Making All Voices Count to reach a different group of actors compared to usual open calls for proposals, which tend to attract rather global institutions such as international NGOs.

The application process was simple; the first round deliberately required a limited amount of information focused almost exclusively on the strength of the idea, ensuring the applicant was focused on the idea of their project. This simple application process was valuable as it allowed the programme to reach a wider audience.

For the GIC 2015 we will build on the strong foundations laid in the first. For example, we will work harder to ensure more even geographical disparity between eligible applications and votes. We saw interesting trends in the first GIC such as: the majority of ideas came from Africa, while the majority of voters came from Asia. This can be explained in part due to the greater awareness pf the programme in Africa. Our open call for proposals was launched in seven African countries and in one Asian country. In addition, we had formal launch events in three African countries and only one in an Asian country. The large number of Asian voters can therefore be explained in part due to the larger populations in our Asia focus countries.

GIC 2015 eligible applicants by country

GIC 2015 eligible applicants by country

GIC distribution of votes

GIC distribution of votes

The crowd decides

In the first competition, there were three rounds, with the initial round seeing over 60,000 votes and 10,000 comments from 40,000 registered users. This was an active and engaged community, eager to have their say.

However such an open approach, together with a registration process focussed on removing barriers to entry, proved susceptible to some attempted manipulation. This was spotted and rectified at the time. In light of this, the GIC 2015’s monitoring capabilities have been dramatically enhanced.

Peer-to-peer assessment, learning & exchange

The second round, a peer-review between the shortlisted candidates of the first round, received positive feedback by the participants in a follow-up survey. They stated it helped them to understand their ideas better, refine or even reshape them. One lesson for the upcoming peer-review process in the GIC 2015 is striking the right balance between brevity, ease and depth of peer analysis. The jury will also review applications and will assign wildcards to projects that seem promising, but are not yet at the stage of being presented. The aim of this is to support and encourage innovation, particularly from people who may not be experienced in competing in this way.

Additional competition round

An additional stage before the finals, the screening stage, will be introduced this year, building on the lessons learned from the first GIC. To ensure all successful second round ideas are mature enough for the competition, this round will feature a call with a Making All Voices Count Programme Officer. It will also allow the contestant to get additional insights on how to refine their idea for the Global Innovation Week.

Global Innovation Week & project grants

To find new ways or improve existing mechanisms to address the complicated governance challenges Making All Voices Count seeks to address, the programme aims to bring people together with different perspectives, experiences and knowledge to consider and collaborate. In working towards this, The Global Innovation Week in Nairobi was held with ten finalists of the GIC. As reported by participants, this was a fantastic opportunity to exchange ideas, connect with like-minded individuals and refine projects.

The Global Innovation Week ended with the GIC Gala, featured in the video above, where the winner was awarded £65,000, the two runner-ups £35,000 and all other finalists received £5,000. The three winners additionally received six months of mentorship and other trainings.

During the finals, it was acknowledged that the pre-fixed amount of money allocated to the winners and other finalists had the unintended effect of shaping the nature of the projects proposed. To provide all promising projects with funds and training, and to allocate the amount of money actually required by the project, this year grants will be allocated according to specific project needs. The GIC 2015 will also feature a Global Innovation Week, taking place in Asia.

We’re really excited about kicking off the GIC 2015 and are look forward to engaging with you and your innovative ideas. Sign up for our mailing list to receive the latest information including launch dates, themes, eligibility criteria and more.

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