How the Wikimedia Accelerator UNLOCK is different from other accelerator programs

With so many other accelerators out there and UNLOCK heading into its third edition in 2022 you might be wondering: What separates UNLOCK from other acceleration programs? Let’s shed some light on the particularities of the Wikimedia Accelerator.

  • Lucia Obst
  • 21. March 2022

The international innovation ecosystem is developing quickly. In recent years it has become the home of numerous entrepreneurs as well as acceleration programs and incubators. Therefore it is fair to ask, what is unique to the UNLOCK Accelerator? 

As (with our undying drive to keep learning and developing) we put several changes to the program in place every year, we want to focus on the top six consistent highlights of what make the UNLOCK Accelerator special and separate it from the pack:

  1. First and foremost it is safe to say that we are the only accelerator program out there that focuses thematically specifically on Free Knowledge. While social entrepreneurship and impact acceleration is experiencing a surge in notoriety and availability, we are the first to put a specific focus on supporting projects that make knowledge more inclusive and freely accessible to everyone. As a child of Wikimedia Deutschland, we strongly believe in the power of free knowledge for social impact and have built this accelerator for precisely this reason.
  2. This also means, for more accessibility, that all project results that are developed throughout the accelerator program are openly licensed: all projects must be open source (as an open software project) or run under a free license (as a freely licensed non-technical project, e.g. art, audio, video, etc.). This also requires the teams to discover and experiment with new business models together with us. There are numerous benefits to publishing openly. Establishing new standards and getting others to invest in your work are just some of them.
  3. Even more so, with UNLOCK, we are entering into uncharted territory: At Wikimedia we are trying to cultivate a free knowledge and open source mindset within the wider entrepreneurship sector. This is also why we devote so much of our time to openly sharing our own insights, processes and learnings on our blog for others to refer to. Ultimately, creating an innovation ecosystem for free knowledge is where our heart lies. Therefore, we continue to look for partners in crime to learn from and build synergies with. 
  4. In more practical terms, we do not follow a set curriculum throughout the UNLOCK program. Instead we design the content of the program on the go according to the needs of the project teams that we are supporting, focusing more on needs-based, one-on-one coachings for the best-possible project development. 
  5. We believe sharing is caring; therefore we encourage exchange of knowledge and skills amongst participants, and actively working together across projects. This is why we purposefully keep the number of teams participating in the UNLOCK Accelerator small. In this familiar setup building trust and bonds between one another is more manageable. 
  6. Support of the participating teams does not end with the final event of the program, the Demo Day. Rather, it is important to us to keep in touch and to support the teams in finding their new “homes”, even after completion of the program. Either by integrating them into the Wikimedia context or within the larger free knowledge and open source ecosystem. We discuss the possibilities with each team individually and are happy to say that we are still in active conversation with the former participants, even of the very first batch in 2020.

Check out the projects from the previous UNLOCK batches here. And talk to us if you want to learn more about the innovative power of free knowledge and the benefits of releasing a project under an open source license.