The Catalyst Awards; Strange Memes & Community Innovation

Catalyst Awards logo

What happens when social need collides head on with the social web? How are widespread and easy-to-use technologies being used to benefit communities?

The UK Catalyst Awards are an experiment in surfacing social tech innovation. The bet is that social activists across the UK are using technology to benefit communities in lots of different ways. The awards aim to shine a spotlight on these projects, big or small, as a way to boost those projects and also to spread the inspiration.

The closing date is June 16th so there's still time to enter! You can enter yourself or nominate someone you know, either as individuals or as part of a business, charity or community group. We’re looking for examples of people creating new social technologies as well as using existing channels in a different way. More details on the UK Catalyst Entry Form.

For me, 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 - who could have predicted Wikipedia? So what new forms of community action will emerge when strange internet memes like Crowdsourcing and The Long Tail are applied to social impact?

Projects like Liftshare and Patient Opinion tell us that the web can pack a social punch, and Social Innovation Camp proved that there are loads more great ideas ready for that dash of tech magic to bring them to life. And it's not just the web; mobile and gaming technologies are also being turned to socially positive ends.

There are nine Catalyst awards - Community Awards for Social Technology - up for grabs. The entrants can have created their own social technology or used existing channels innovatively. Our categories expect the unexpected - they include:

  • The Shock for Good Award: for something that shocked people into doing something good
  • The Revolutionary Award: for something that makes people in power more aware of the need for change
  • The Self-Help Award: For something that helps the creator to help themselves
  • The Chalk & Cheese Award: for something that brings two different groups of people together
  • The David and Goliath Award: for something little that made a difference to a something big and powerful

The Catalyst Awards are also proud partners of the 2gether Festival and we'll be presenting the shortlisted projects at a special preview session. We'll also be opening a discussion about Catalyst Phase 2; how to incubate and grow digital social projects to a scale where they can have significant social impact.

And thanks to DK of the rather excellent Mediasnackers you can watch a vodcast of me explaining why the Catalyst Awards are only the start...