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Application Labs

The Application Lab provides opportunities to discuss new problem-solving enterprises, projects and ventures in a hands-on, interactive setting. They consist of short presentations, generally involving interaction with the audience, of pioneering practical applications that have the potential to transform the way we address well-defined global problems.

 

betterplace.org – A Marketplace for Social Initiatives and Social Entrepreneurs

The challenges for social innovation

The social non-profit sector is highly intransparent, with most donors not knowing where their money is going. The cost of financing social causes and innovation are high: the cost of conventional fundraising can absorb up to 50% of donations raised. And thirdly, there is a huge lack of accountability (especially with regards to beneficiaries), insufficient stakeholder feedback and – resulting from this – poor impact measurement.

betterplace.org as one answer to these challenges

betterplace.org is a marketplace for social initiatives and social entrepreneurs, connecting people who want to help, with those in need. betterplace is run as a self-sustainable, non-profit organization – a “social business” (Mohammed Yunus).

betterplace uses the intermediary power of the internet to make social projects more transparent, by asking project managers to break down their work and specify what they need (in terms of money, time, donations in kind and expertise) for its completion. At the same time they are also being encouraged to regularly report about the project progress. The use of betterplace is cost-free: A simple donation process is in place and it is guaranteed that 100% of donations reach the organization. Surrounding each project is the so called Web of Trust, where offline trust-mechanisms are transferred to the online sphere and multiple stakeholders of the project are given a voice. Simple impact measurement mechanisms are implemented step by step.

Theory condensed in the marketplace structure of betterplace.org

Multi-disciplinary theory is condensed in the structure of the betterplace.org marketplace:

  • Hierarchical control mechanisms are complemented with network trust/control.
  • The matching power of the internet enables a “long tail” of help.
  • Grassroots creativity – bottom up approaches – get a new stage and voice.
  • State of the art impact measurements (SROI) are made available to a large number of organizations.


ClearlySo – World’s First Marketplace for Social Business & Enterprise, Commerce and Investment

Our financial system has shown itself to be seriously flawed. There is no escaping the fact that without the massive injection of governmental funds most of the world’s financial system would lie in ruins. In this light we need a new model. We contend that a key flaw of our existing system was its pressures to push for business models that operated on a “profit-maximization at all costs” basis. This has not only led to institutional over-reach by financial firms but has contributed to many other negative economic externalities we now all bear – such as in the environmental area where polluters have not paid the cost of the damage they have caused in pursuit of increased profits. Clearly a new model is needed – and we contend this is the model of more social business, investment and enterprise, where the best aspects of our market system are married to the achievement of some social, ethical or environmental purpose.

This is already happening, albeit slowly. We designed and launched ClearlySo, the first marketplace for social business & enterprise, commerce & investment in March 2009 at the Skoll World Forum for Social Entrepreneurship in Oxford, UK. ClearlySo seeks primarily to assist social businesses and enterprises to become more successful by providing them with access to capital, people, professional services, publicity and information. Member firms interact with each other, with investors and with product & service vendors to get the resources they need to thrive. From its base in the UK, ClearlySo will be expanding internationally, creating a global social business and enterprise ecosystem, to the benefit of all its members. If successful, not only can ClearlySo be a self-sustaining and profitable business in its own right but it will enable many other social businesses to thrive – thus accelerating the onset of a more social economy.

 

How 10 Billion People Can Live on our Planet with Climate- and Energy-security: DESERTEC – A Solution

By far the largest, technically accessible source of energy on the planet is to be found in the deserts around the equatorial regions of the earth. The DESERTEC Concept is designed to bring deserts and existing technology into service to improve global security of energy, water and the climate. To this end we propose Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (EU-MENA) begin to cooperate in the production of electricity and desalinated water using concentrating solar thermal power and wind turbines in the MENA deserts.

These technologies can meet the growing demands for power production and seawater desalination in the MENA region, and produce clean electrical power that can be transmitted via High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission lines with relatively little transmission loss to Europe (10–15%). From a political point of view, implementing DESERTEC in countries like Australia, China, India and the USA, should be even easier.

The technologies necessary to realize the DESERTEC concept have already been developed and some of them have been in use for decades. Based on satellite data, several studies by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) confirm the availability of solar energy. The developments in energy provision and the climate situation gives added urgency to implementing this concept. All that is needed now is the political will and the right framework of incentives.

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