Catalyst Awards

Seedcamp for Catalystas

Yadda yadda Seedcamp 08, filling my twitterfeed. I've said before we need one for social innovation, and only this week I heard that one of the Catalyst shortlist was having to semi-fold because support was slow to materialise.

I'm about to submit recommendations from the Catalyst Awards to No. 10 et al; I reckon I should propose something like Seedcamp to fund & incubate the successful applicants. Ping me if you've got any ideas about how to get a Seedcamp for Social Innovation off the ground. Can the Many-Headed Hydra, er sorry, Government, be persuaded to put funds in to the pot? We'll see...


Where next for the UK Catalyst Awards?

The Catalyst Awards ceremony on 24/7 has boosted the buzz around using social technology for community good. I'm happy with how it went, and I know it's already having a positive knock-on effect. But raising all that energy raises the question: where next?

It was a curious experience to curate the awards, because of the need to bend a top-down initiative in the direction of community innovators. Luckily it succeeded, and the awards day reflected this curious mashup as PM Gordon Brown and a bevy of ministers mingled with social activists and tech obsessives.

All the awards were well deserved, of course; but an awards ceremony only takes things so far. Yes, it delivered media coverage, starting with unexpectedly positive write-ups from The Sun and The Telegraph(!).But I think all the wondrously diverse shortlist deserve a boost - and beyond that, so do all the folk who had the oomph to enter in the first place. And I'm not just saying that because I'm a nice guy, but because IMHO we're not just picking shiny projects at random, we're seeking to spotlight the birth of a movement.

Whenever we got the shortlisted projects together, there was an immediate buzz. They're not working on the same social issues but they seem to recognise some commonality and were keen to share experiences, and even to form partnerships. This solidarity is great, and reflects the spirit of generosity of the social web. And I think there's a momentum building around this movement, a sense that web-enabled social change signals a new form of community action for the 21st century ("using the newest of technologies for the oldest of aims").

But how do we unlock this promise? How do we catalyse(!) more projects and help them grow once they've started? All the folk I met while doing the awards are taking an enterprising approach to developing their strange memes. They are social startups and need support that's as agile and experimental as they are. Developing that ecology of support is one key issure for Catalyst phase 2.

We'll be announcing the phase 2 plan at Chain Reaction which leaves a couple of months to pull the strands together. I'm keen to hear other people's ideas about the best way to pull together initiatives like Social Innovation Camp, 2gether08 and Channel 4's 4IP. In the mean time, Davd Wilcox did a social report of the awards, including an interview with me where he asked a lot of the same questions;

The Catalyst Awards shortlist wins praise from Tim Smit

With a little more than 48 hours before we announce the Catalyst Awards winners, I want to pay tribute to all of the shortlist. I said in Strange Memes & Community Innovation that "the exciting part about running the Catalyst Awards is that we don't really know what we're going to find. The web is a place where unexpected social experiments can have far reaching consequences". IMHO the shortlist lives up to these hopes, as it includes:

  • The world's first disability nightclub in Second Life
  • Social networking for young gypsy travellers, for carers of aged parents and for users & designers of disability living aids
  • The use of wikis - for young refugees and asylum seekers, and for enterprise policy makers
  • Web 2.0 sites connecting young people with politicians, the NHS with patients and carers, residents with those in power
  • X-factor voting technology being used for community decision making and consultation
  • The use of cool wireless technology (like biomapping) by socially excluded young people


There's still time to cast your vote for the People's Choice award. In the mean time, here's the Eden Project's Tim Smit (of the one of the judges) explaining that several of the projects are going to be "genuinely world changing":

See videos from many of the projects on our Catalyst Youtube channel.

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