The UNLOCK Accelerator will not be continued, but redesigned in 2023. Follow along here to be a part of our journey of re-imagination.
UNLOCK is a structured cohort-based program and supports participating teams in developing their idea into a functional prototype. As members of the UNLOCK cohort, the teams will receive 3-months of hands-on coaching and expertise as well as have access to our diverse network within and beyond the free knowledge movement. Where necessary, the participants also receive financial support in the form of a scholarship.
The program ran for three consecutive editions: in 2020 in the German-speaking region; in 2021 at the European level; and in 2022 in collaboration with the communities from the Western Balkans. In these three editions, we received a total of over 100 applications and 17 projects for free knowledge were supported.
Teams can apply with project ideas related to the thematic focus (i.e. field(s) of action) that we define for each program edition. The program is open to volunteers from the existing Wikimedia projects, but also to those who are not yet part of the Wikimedia movement. We are looking for change makers, activists, technologists and creative minds who are eager to turn their idea into a concrete prototype or product/service.
More details about the requirements: https://www.wikimedia.de/unlock/program/
Application and selection
For each UNLOCK edition a limited number of teams will be admitted to participate in the program. The application process includes the following steps:
- Written application: the application form is freely accessible to all interested parties during the application period.
- Pre-selection: The UNLOCK jury will review all submissions and agree on a shortlist of teams selected from the applications received. The members of the jury are a combination of Wikimedia staff members, external experts and coaches mentoring the program. During the selection process, the jury will pay special attention to the following three aspects of your application: How well is your idea suited to the problem? Is your team well staffed and equipped? And to what extent can the UNLOCK Accelerator be of meaningful assistance to your project at this point in the process?
- Video call: Prior to the final selection we want to get to know the shortlisted teams personally. To this end, we will invite them to a virtual get-to-know-you-call.
- Decision: Following the calls, we will send acceptance letters via email to the finalists.
We compiled insights from the application and selection process on our UNLOCK Blog:
The third edition of the program is all about collaboration and cross-regional exchange. Wikimedia Deutschland has teamed up with Wikimedia Serbia and Impact Hub Belgrade to jointly design and host the program in 2022: UNLOCK German speaking region x Western Balkans!
For this year's call, we received 34 applications, which we reviewed and evaluated in a multi-stage selection process – including a jury meeting and "get-to-know-the-team" calls. Together with our implementation partners Wikimedia Serbia and Impact Hub Belgrade, we selected seven projects for this edition, which focuses on knowledge equity. The projects show and has convinced us throughout the selection process with new perspectives for free knowledge in different regional but also thematic contexts.
- activist.org – an open source platform that breaks down barriers to becoming politically active and thereby connects people and organisations from different social and activist movements.
- IDE GLAS – encouraging young people in the Western Balkans to familiarize themselves with political decision making and political systems through elements of gamification.
- hunmAIn code – 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.
UNLOCK 2022: Additional insights and implementation details
Funding UNLOCK 2022
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.
UNLOCK is entering into its third edition. The UNLOCK program team has been responsible for the design and implementation of the program. At the same time and on the other side of the globe, the Culture and Open Knowledge Program team of Wikimedia Argentina is currently working on a program similar to UNLOCK to drive and accelerate innovative ideas in the cultural as well as Argentinian (or Latin-American) context. How can knowledge and experience of the UNLOCK program team be best shared with the Culture and Open Knowledge Program team? What potential synergies can be further developed among the two teams?
To enable exchange and knowledge transfer, we have developed a learning format called "Program shadowing". We want to achieve the following (learning) goals:
- The Culture and Open Knowledge Program team could gain first-hand insights and comprehensive knowledge about how an innovation-driving program like UNLOCK can be designed and implemented. This will be a far richer experience – and “on-the-job” training – than just reading a “how-to”
- The Culture and Open Knowledge Program team could use the skills, knowledge and methods for the design and implementation of their program
- The UNLOCK program team could gain feedback and new perspectives, and thereby prevent being trapped in a rut and further develop their skills and knowledge
- Both teams could empower and learn from each other, and thereby establish synergies. The team could leave with clear next steps to take after this shadowing to continue their engagement in “Innovate in Free Knowledge”.
24 project teams from 17 countries (13 of them from the European region, 4 outside Europe) applied and submitted their ideas and approaches for our program focus Trust in the Digital Age. Five of the teams convinced us the most and were selected to participate in our three-month accelerator program.
- FollowTheVote – a mobile app that makes political engagement a fun and informative habit for young people by combining facts with gamification.
- Government Online Presence Directory – a crowdsourced and fact-checked directory of official governmental online accounts and services around the globe. This project is run by two active members of the Wikidata community and the directory itself will build on Wikidata.
- OpenSpeaks Accessibility – an open toolkit for language archivists on how to create permanent, accessible and inclusive audiovisual archives.
- The Re:Source Project – a browser extension that informs about working conditions across supply chains.
- ThinkTwise – a browser extension that detects and highlights the quality of arguments in written, digital texts.
More than 50 teams with promising and innovative ideas for Free Knowledge applied for the UNLOCK Accelerator program in 2020. Each project team applied to at least one of the fields of action that were identified in a research project (see: full research project report). These fields offer particularly great potential for further driving a digital, fair and inclusive knowledge society and which should be addressed by the program. Five project teams have convinced us of their potential and were chosen to participate in our 3-months Accelerator program.
- Audiopedia – a platform that makes audible knowledge accessible through free content and free technology, focussing on health and nutrition topics and addressing primarily non-readers in the Global South.
- Communitybasierte Zertifizierung von Open Source Hardware – a platform that sets new international standards to help collect, document and certify existing technical knowledge on Open Hardware projects.
- Face the Facts – an app which helps users retrieve all important information about political candidates, such as past voting behaviours, controversies or sideline activities by scanning the election poster with their mobile phone.
- Futures Probes – a platform as well as a qualitative survey method that invites people to create visions of the future on specific topics with the aim of capturing marginalized voices in particular.
- UnFrequently Asked Questions – a web-based app that strengthens civic participation by enabling users to playfully engage with their immediate surroundings and experiences through their mobile devices.
The team is available for questions and suggestions about the UNLOCK Accelerator:
- Lucia Obst (she/her), Program management and community engagement, email@example.com
- Sissela Björk (she/her), Program support, firstname.lastname@example.org