With COVID-19 taking a hold of our world, our third round of grants is dedicated to ideas that combine CI and AI to create more equitable and sustainable futures as we recover from the pandemic.
Collective intelligence has played a key role in responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly four million members of the British public have helped scientists to monitor COVID symptoms in real-time; researchers engaged crowd forecasters to fill gaps in machine learning models of how the virus might spread; citizens collaborated with frontline workers to design and produce cheap testing kits, PPE and medical equipment, and even develop new treatments; and communities crowdsourced information on mask availability, pharmacy opening hours and more.
These efforts demonstrated the power of distributed intelligence to meet urgent data, knowledge and skills gaps, and the ability of the crowd to organise for pandemic response in a more devolved way.
We face the daunting challenge of rebuilding after the worst economic contraction on record, with society’s fault lines and inequalities more visible than ever. The virus has not yet gone away, but at the same time, another crisis - the climate emergency - is looming over our shoulders. As we begin to think about the long-term implications and recovery from COVID-19, we have an opportunity to grow back better together, in a way that is beneficial for both people and the planet.
Our first round of collective intelligence experiments showed what could be possible if we get the relationship between AI and crowd intelligence right. Building on our report ‘The Future of Minds and Machines’, we want to support more real-world experimentation with novel methods that augment crowd intelligence through AI.
We are now calling for innovative ideas which are designed to help create more equitable and sustainable futures as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
We want to fund practical experiments that use novel combinations of AI and crowd intelligence. Our report ‘The Future of Minds and Machines’ sets out an emerging framework for how these complementary sources of intelligence can work together.
The experiments must test innovative solutions that could help create more equitable and sustainable futures as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. They should address pressing or emerging social and environmental issues such as reducing carbon emissions, preventing long-term unemployment, closing the school readiness and achievement gaps for disadvantaged children, and tackling health inequalities. Proposals should clearly explain the hypotheses that will be tested through the experiment, how this will be done, and how it will generate practical knowledge and generalisable insights.
UK- incorporated organisations will be able to apply for grants of up to £30,000 each.
Including diverse people and perspectives is a key principle of collective intelligence design. But too often participation - whether in digital democracy or citizen science projects - can still be dominated by the usual suspects, and fail to include more marginalised communities. The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities, the structural racism highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement, and the discriminating effects of emerging technology and biased data, means we must continue to push for more collective intelligence initiatives that genuinely address diversity and inclusion. The collective intelligence experiments we fund should demonstrate how they will address this issue.
Insights and recommendations from the funded experiments will be collated and published by Nesta to inform and advance the field of collective intelligence design.
We can only fund projects that advance Nesta’s charitable objects for public benefit.
In addition to funding of up to £30,000, we can also support the selected teams in other ways. We may:
We welcome applications from incorporated organisations based anywhere in the UK. We will not fund individuals. Partner organisations do not have to be registered in the UK, but the experiment will need to address UK specific challenges.
We particularly welcome joint applications between academic institutions and NGOs, local authorities or companies. We want to ensure cutting-edge methods, technology and data expertise are applied to real-world problem-solving, and that experiments are well-designed and rigorous.
We want to support all interested organisations in finding potential partners with whom they can further develop their ideas before applying. For more information on how we will do this, please scroll down to the section on ‘How should I apply?’.
To be considered, submitted experiment ideas must:
We are not able to support ideas that:
The EOI is now open. Please also complete our diversity monitoring form (this is anonymous and separate from the EOI). You will need to submit your EOI by Wednesday, 4th of November 2020, 12pm GMT (UK time).
By submitting your EOI you confirm you accept the terms and conditions and privacy statement. Please therefore make sure that you have read and understood these before submitting your EOI.
Optional - Webinars: ‘Ask me anything’
We will be holding two one-hour-long webinars where you will be able to ask any questions related to the application form, the process, or any other questions you have about the grants programme. The first webinar will take place on Wednesday, the 16th of September 2020 at 3pm UK time. If you would like to join, please register in advance.
The second webinar will take place on Tuesday, the 22nd of September 2020 at 11:30am UK time. If you would like to join, please register in advance.
Optional - Support in finding suitable a partner organisation
We especially encourage joint applications by academic institutions and NGOs or public institutions to ensure that experiments are cutting edge, rigorous and carried out in a real-world context.
We would like to provide a channel for interested applicants to find partners they can develop their idea with and apply with. We will do this by listing interested parties in an online document which will be shared with others also looking for partners. If you are still looking for an experiment partner and would like your idea or your challenge to be listed, please fill in this short google form. Please note you don’t have to share fully-formed ideas, initial thoughts are fine. Once you fill in the form you will be provided with the link to the list, which will automatically update whenever someone adds a new idea through the form. Please see our privacy statement to find out how your personal information will be used for this purpose.
Nesta will score all proposals based on the selection criteria (see below) and create a shortlist of ideas with the greatest potential. We will invite shortlisted applicants to a video call to give you feedback on your proposal and work on your idea together. The aim of this is to support development of the shortlisted ideas, explore any outstanding questions and concerns raised during the review process, and to ensure the proposals are adequately framed as collective intelligence experiments.
We will share the final application form ahead of this call so that shortlisted applicants can use the call to ask any questions they may have.
Shortlisted candidates will then be invited to submit full applications. The final proposals will initially be reviewed by one or more relevant members of an external advisory group and experts from other relevant Nesta teams to help us assess the applications.
We will then score proposals based on the selection criteria, taking into account the input from the external advisory group and Nesta experts. Final decisions about funding will be made by the team at the Centre for Collective Intelligence Design.
We will update the website about the advisory group members once they have been confirmed.
Deadline for submitting your EOI for the collective intelligence grants is on Wednesday, 4th of November 2020, 12pm GMT (UK time).
We expect experiments to take a maximum of 9 months to complete from the awarding of the grant.
Ready to start your application?Submit an expression of interest
Have more questions?Visit our FAQ page for further details.