Innovation as we know it is “learning through trial.” We want to prioritize innovation in our own work by taking on new approaches to test, learn, and improve, and we hope to encourage others in the transparency community to do the same.
For these reasons, we are planning to launch the Innovation Fund, offering between US$2,000 and US$10,000 to experiment with brand new ways (untested or in the very early stages of testing) of diagnosing and/or mitigating the challenges of corruption, transparency and accountability in governance.
The way we see it, “innovative ideas” are new ways of tackling shared challenges to bring about change. They may exist in the form of a product, service, tool, and/or method. They may leverage technology, but they don’t have to. They have the ability to be disruptive – positively altering what we know, and/or demonstrating what we may not know – and, as a result, they may seem half-crazy at first sight!
These ideas are not what we already know works (e.g. indicator-based country governance assessments) and/or doesn’t work (e.g. anti-corruption commissions). They are also not incremental improvements on existing techniques (e.g. a "better" citizens budget; a "better" freedom of information awareness-raising campaign; a "better" service delivery monitoring effort)
For example, when the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (JPAL) began using randomized control trials to robustly address the challenges of corruption, or when Ushahidi began collectivizing accountability through crisis tracking and mapping, they were not expected to become the game-changing efforts that we know them to be today. The jury may still be out on the “success” and impact these efforts have had, but there is little doubt that they have altered the way we see and approach transparency, accountability and corruption issues. In that sense, we consider them ‘innovative ideas’ and examples of what we are looking for.
We want to find new ideas, bring them out of the woodwork and provide them with the capital they need to be tested. We also want to share what we learn from these experiments with the greater transparency community.
If you have a burning idea along these lines or know of someone who does, stay tuned because we plan to publish selection criteria and start receiving applications in the next couple of months!
— Image Credit: Kevin Dooley