UNLOCK goes Europe

We wrapped up the past year with an extensive evaluation of the UNLOCK Accelerator 2020. But what happened to all of our lessons learned? In 2021 the UNLOCK Accelerator is entering into its second edition. This meant heading back to the drawing board and daring to be bigger and bolder than before. Here we shed light on some of the biggest changes UNLOCK is facing this year.

  • Lucia Obst
  • 26. March 2021

Levelling up: We are searching for applications from across Europe

First things first: You will have noticed that this is the very first UNLOCK-blog entry written in the English language – a first glimpse at one of our biggest changes: The UNLOCK Accelerator is broadening its geographic scope and is looking for project applications from across Europe!

We believe that great ideas are not limited by geographic borders and our program is easily adaptable to a wider European area in design and setup. Our time zone spans over several countries and our coaches are versed in working in various European contexts. We want to seize the opportunities that come with this and want to give our fellow European citizens the chance to advance their ideas as part of our accelerator as well. 

This implies two things:

Making room: We are inviting more project teams to the program

This is not the only way we are looking to expand our horizon. This year, we want to support even more people and fund more projects. Unlike last year, when we could only invite five teams into the program, we now have up to seven slots to fill with amazing teams. Each team can be made up of two to five team members, making room for up to 35 participants. We are certain that this way our impact can be even greater. Not only because more project teams can receive the support they need and positively affect our society, but also because we are stronger together. As a group, we can exchange ideas, collaborate and advance together, providing each other with support and fresh perspectives. 

More teams also means more coaches. Each team will be paired with a professional coach and we already have seven in the pipeline ready to dive into the teams’ product development processes, and share their expertise and insights. All our coaches have a unique set of skills and methodologies that will support the teams in the validation and further development of their ideas.

Narrowing down the thematic scope: We are looking for projects that (re)build trust in the digital age

Last year, we started off with five fields of action that were defined by a three-month research project on the current trends and challenges of Free Knowledge. Each project team applied to at least one of the fields of action offering a practical solution to the given problem. This very broad thematic scope gave us an initial overview of what topics are currently being perceived as particularly urgent and needed to be addressed more deeply.

Following an extensive evaluation and explorative deep dives with experts, this year, we have narrowed the thematic scope down. Our focus lies on project ideas that address the challenge of “(Re)Building trust in the digital age”: Our research has shown that both the access to knowledge and the informed use of sources, information and data have become increasingly challenging for users and consumers alike. Both form fundamental pillars of trust in (and through) information and technology. Together with you, we want to imagine a world built on trust in which we can safely navigate through the wealth of information that lies at our fingertips, where we have access to high-quality, trustworthy knowledge sources and thus make informed decisions that are in our best interest. For this purpose, we are looking for project ideas that create greater access to knowledge or strengthen (digital) skills and literacy needed to acquire and deal with knowledge in a competent manner.

We believe that working on a defined thematic focus will allow for more interaction between the participating teams, fuelling inspiration and cross-team support. We want participating teams to push each other to reach their full potential.

Tidying up: We made some adjustments to the program timeline 

Finally, we have taken the feedback given to us by the 2020 participants a lot of thought and combined them with our own findings. As a result, we have made some adjustments to the program timeline to find a more balanced structure. In this edition, we are now offering more concentrated four-to-five-day working phases. In between we are giving more room for individual work on your project ideas. Experience has shown that participants should allocate approximately 20 hours per week each during that time to properly advance their project and make the most of the program. 

Our three intense working phases, called sprints, include:

“The Design Sprint was super helpful in making concrete what was once vague; we loved having a coach push us to achieve more”

Participant of UNLOCK 2020

“I learned so much and was able to really focus on applying all that I had learned to our project”

Participant of UNLOCK 2020

Send us your applications!

You want to be a part of UNLOCK 2021? You have a creative solution that works towards (re)building trust in our digital society that you want to turn into a functional prototype? Application is open from April 1 until May 31.