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Outlandish Fellowships: Instructions for application

 

*** UPDATE: Our first round of applications for the fellowship is now closed – to see our 2016 fellows, visit this page ***

 

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Outlandish is making fellowships available for people who are using the Internet and digital technologies to address social issues. The fellowships include funding and other forms of support to allow participants to start their own projects.

The aim of the fellowship is to support work that matches the mission of Outlandish, and to expand the network of people that we actively collaborate with. The ideal candidates for the fellowship are working on interesting and socially relevant problems, and would also benefit from the expertise and connections that Outlandish has.

After going through the proposals we have received, we will help some projects build their teams. If you would potentially like to collaborate on a project related to the fellowship, do get in touch with us, and we will try to match you with some of the funded projects.

 

What would it be like to be a fellow?

  • Fellows receive financial support allowing them to work part-time or full-time on their ideas. We have the chance to give 10 fellowships of £5,000 and 2 larger fellowships of up to £25,000.
  • Fellows will develop their own project related to technology and social change (see below for our focus). The output could be, for instance, a prototype or MVP for a digital service or a piece of open source software.
  • You don’t have to be a senior in your field to be a fellow – though it helps. If you are personally invested into solving an interesting problem, Outlandish can offer limited technical support to complement your expertise. We can use our network to find people who might be able to contribute, or help you run events to pool contributions from people interested in similar problems.
  • Depending on a fellow’s availability, we hope that they will be actively involved with other fellows of their own cohort, for instance through skill sharing workshops, and informal gatherings such as after-work drinks.

 

What kind of projects can Outlandish support?

People looking for support often have to tailor their applications to the keywords and standards defined by the funder. We would rather hear about your ambitions and plans in your own terms. Hence we are defining the thematic scope of our fellowship quite broadly. At the same time, we do specify some practical criteria for people who we think would be a good match for the fellowship.

Outlandish collaborates widely with other co-operatives, with progressive campaign groups as well as people working on free software and open data. To give you a sense of the kind of work we are most likely to support, here are some examples of projects that we like. (Obviously many of these  larger in scale than we are expecting our fellows to deliver!)

  • Loomio and Cobudget are great tools for running organisations in a decentralised and democratic way – Outlandish benefits from them
  • Fairmondo is a promising attempt to take an existing platform and run it with principles of social value and co-operative governance
  • Open data resources such as TheyWorkForYou and OpenCorporates provide the foundation for many civic apps and campaigns
  • Often existing data and interfaces can be used for simple interventions, such as Bookindly that routes the Amazon website to independent bookshops

In addition to the aim of the projects, a good candidate for fellowship meets the following criteria:

  • The fellows and their teams should have the availability to build the key parts of their work by September 2016, even if the project continues longer.
  • The work should be published with an open licence of your choosing, unless you can give a good reason not to. We would not normally fund closed-source commercial software.
  • We hope to support projects that would benefit most from collaborating with Outlandish. This also means that we are most keen to support people who are located close to London, to make co-operation easier. That doesn’t mean that people not based in London shouldn’t get in touch – we’re keen to create a national network of like-minded people
  • The project should have a sustainable and tangible output – we won’t fund pure research projects, one-off events or projects that won’t last past the lifespan of the project. We’re aiming to create projects that create lasting value for others.
  • We will prioritise valuable work that would struggle to find support from other sources, such as open source software or services that are not easily monetised.
  • We will consider supporting both individuals and teams. We generally prefer to work with the whole team instead of a single commissioner/project manager. We’ll consider paying people individually for their roles on each project.

How can you apply?

We want a process with more talking and less paperwork.

There are two stages for pitching your idea.

Stage One

We would like you to send us a description of your project in about 300 words. We will respond within two weeks on a rolling basis. If we think there is potential for working together, we will invite you for a chat over the internet or at our offices in London.

If you have any questions, or would like to discuss your idea before filling the form, please e-mail aleksi@outlandish.com.

Apply for fellowship

 

Stage Two

The participants who make it through stage one are then asked to submit a more detailed project plan (although still not too arduous!). We would like to agree on a simple description of the key deliverables, estimates of your schedule, as well as a list of the people in your team. You may not have identified who is contributing what at this point, but you should know who you need.

We are inviting people to contact us about fellowships in several rounds, the first one of which runs between the 15th of March and 15th of April. The later funding rounds will only take place if we do not identify a sufficient number of projects we want to support in the first round. You have the best chance of getting support by applying early.