TESTING 123: The Global Integrity Innovation Fund starts TODAY!

Global Integrity
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Today we’re launching TESTING 123: The Global Integrity Innovation Fund, a call for brand-new, half-crazy, never tried before ways of addressing the challenges of transparency and accountability.  We’ll invest in 10 to 15 innovative ideas with up to $10,000 each, giving innovators from any country around the world the opportunity to test their ideas. The application period starts now and we’ll be accepting applications until November 16, 2012 at 5pm EST.

A small team of us at Global Integrity will be evaluating applications as guided by our selection criteria to determine finalists, with external expert advice on a case-by-case basis to assist in the process. Innovators whose ideas are selected for the final round will be offered a chance to explain the uniqueness of their idea, the strength of their testing model, and their own capability to try it out, through a phone or web interview with the Global Integrity team. Final investment decisions will be made by Global Integrity and will consider both written applications as well as final interviews. Throughout the selection process, we will be posting a brief description of each submitted idea on our website for public discussion.

We realize that while ideas may be a dime a dozen, thinking up an unheard of approach can be difficult, and proposing it can feel risky.  To convince you that it is worth it, we will try to lower the barrier to entry as much as possible. To start, here are our top six tips for applying to our innovation fund:

1.     Do your research – Your hypothesis should be grounded in a concrete understanding of what would work in theory and why, as well as what has worked or not in practice in the past.

2.     Disruptive is key – We are not looking for ways of doing things that have already worked (or failed).  We won’t fund ideas that simply apply an existing model to a new context, but we will invest in a method that is a clear departure from what has been tried and has the potential to shake things up if it works.

3.     Get inspired – Take a peek at some of the ideas that we consider ‘innovative.’  We are not asking you to duplicate these efforts – on the contrary, we want you to consider how these approaches, methods, and tools have been able to disrupt our usual thinking and then apply this lens to your own idea.

4.     Consider the testing timeline – Propose an idea that can be tested quickly.  We want to invest in trials that take no more than two to six months. Why?  We believe that a lot can be learned in a short period of time, and lessons learned can fuel quick iteration – a recipe that we believe leads to success.

5.     Convince us that you can do it – We need to know that you have the skills, know-how, motivation, and resources (given our capital) to test out your idea. Give us examples of your competencies to demonstrate to us that you are the right innovator to bet on.

6.     Present an informed story – Perhaps of chief importance to us is the articulation of your Theory of Change.  We need to know that you have thought about your end goal, the steps required to reach it, and the assumptions that inform these processes that imply certain effects.

Check out our FAQs to learn more about expectations for testing and post-testing of the ideas that we will choose for investment. We will also be providing updates on progress, ramblings on innovation, and thoughts on trends that we are seeing, so continue visiting this blog as we move forward.

If you have an innovative idea that you want to test out, we encourage you apply to TESTING 123 and become part of a network of innovators working towards reform for open and accountable governance around the world. We look forward to hearing from you!

By Nicole Anand.

Image: Pixelbliss.

Global Integrity
Global Integrity

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