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Re-imagining UNLOCK

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"Re-imagining UNLOCK – Building a new innovation format for the Movement"

Re-Imagining UNLOCK was a process kick-started in early 2023 to re-think the best way to invest in innovative products and Initiatives that stand in service of the global Wikimedia Movement and can best shape the future of our Knowledge society.

After four years of fostering innovation within the Wikimedia Movement, Wikimedia Deutschland has made the decision to discontinue the Innovation Engine program in 2024.

Throughout 2023, we collaborated with our partners—Wikimedia Argentina, Wikimedia Kenya, Wikimedia Tanzania, Wikimedia Serbia, and Wikimedia Uganda—to redefine innovation in the Wikimedia context. This exploration made it clear that there is a diversity of players within the movement, who we believe may be better suited to drive innovation than Wikimedia Deutschland. Therefore, we've decided not to continue the "Innovation Engine" program next year, signaling a shift in perspective.

This was a pan-Movement project initiated and led by the team Innovation Engine by Wikimedia Deutschland (WMDE).

Why we are doing this[edit]

In order for the Wikimedia Movement to stay relevant, to become more diverse, more resilient, and adaptable to societal changes, we need to overcome the limitations of existing Wikimedia projects. This requires us to strengthen our innovative power and capacity, and to promote innovative ideas and solutions that will catapult our Movement to the future.

For three years, the UNLOCK Accelerator has been a go-to-place to build, test and prototype new concepts on Free Knowledge that the Movement has not yet seen. It has successfully managed to expand the existing Free Knowledge project landscape and has brought us closer to overcoming knowledge inequities. However, our evaluations have shown that we can do better in building an innovation format that is designed for more long-term support and better integration of projects into the Wikimedia Movement.

This is why we are setting out on this explorative journey to find out what a new innovation format, a re-imagined UNLOCK should look like to be of most value to the Wikimedia Movement and to create an even bigger impact on the Free Knowledge Ecosystem.

With this endeavor, WMDE contributes to the implementation of the global Movement Strategy: on the one hand to increase the sustainability of the movement (recommendation #1) by investing in the people in the communities that work on new Free Knowledge projects, new knowledge forms and formats to address gaps in knowledge equity. On the other hand, this investment will strengthen the Movement's capacity for innovation (recommendation #9).

What we are working towards[edit]

The aim is to have a clear concept for UNLOCK 2.0 ready by the end of 2023 to be launched in the following year.

Drawing representing collaboration

This means that by the end of the year we will have:

  • created a better, joint understanding of what innovation might mean in the global context of Free Knowledge;
  • understood what is or is not yet happening regarding innovation within the Wikimedia Movement, meaning which innovation capacities are already being served and where innovation in Free Knowledge is not yet thriving;
  • comprehended what the challenges are that hinder innovation activities in certain contexts;
  • gathered specific ideas on how to overcome these challenges;
  • prototyped and tested a handful of these ideas in a hands-on process actively involving the local communities;
  • formulated a concrete recommendation for UNLOCK 2.0, a innovation format serving the Wikimedia Movement and wider Free Knowledge Ecosystem;
  • created a space for knowledge exchange and skills sharing on the topic of Innovation in Free Knowledge with the potential for other players to build on the ideas presented and create additional innovation formats in their contexts;
  • brought Movement members together with the potential to partner in new allyships;
  • shared specific resources that may aid in similar exploration and design processes.

All steps of the process will be done with high engagement of partners and other stakeholders from the Wikimedia Movement.

What we will not be doing is:

  • build a step-by-step guide on how to build innovative products or services;
  • build said innovative products and services ourselves;
  • simply make some tweaks to the previously running UNLOCK Accelerator program;
  • go through this venture on our own without stakeholder involvement;
  • develop another grant program nor replace any existing grant programs ;
  • create a one-solution-fits-all program.