Swae Celebrates the 2-Year Anniversary of Winning the Global Challenges Foundation’s New Shape Prize

Swae Celebrates the 2-Year Anniversary of Winning the Global Challenges Foundation’s New Shape Prize

Part 1 of 2: Quick Recap on the purpose of the Prize, How We Won, and What We’ve Done Since

Swae-Celebrates-the-2-Year-Anniversary-of-Winning-the-Global-Challenges-Foundation’s-New-Shape-Prize

Two years ago almost to this day, The Global Challenges Foundation in Sweden generously awarded Swae as one of three winners of the New Shape Prize (a $600K USD grant amongst 14,000 global applicants) for having a unique and innovative solution to fundamentally improve global governance, decision-making, and our democratic institutions to be more compatible with 21st-century technology, culture and socio-political developments. Our team was incredibly honored and grateful to be given this recognition and it served as an important developmental milestone for us.

Below we share details about the award, our winning pitch, and a summary of how we leveraged the resources to build a working prototype and begin piloting it in real organizational and political environments.

Goals of the New Shape Prize

The New Shape Prize (originally a $5M grant) was generously financed by the Foundation’s benefactor, Mr. Laszlo Szombatfalvy, and designed to inspire ideas and stimulate debate around new, more effective forms of global cooperation at the highest levels about how the world community manages global catastrophic risks, ranging from climate change effects to weapons of mass destruction.

The short 1min explainer video below better describes the New Shape Prize (for those that are unfamiliar with it):

 

The Problem Swae Identified

Today’s international institutions are poorly suited to building experimental or creative win-win solutions to the problems we face as a globe or a collective species. Consequently, there are dangerous emerging under-managed macro risks stemming from the limitations of our governance structures. Our system is no longer fit for our new age and we need new actors, new operating assumptions, and new norms to help reframe our priorities and uphold humanity-first, and nations second. We need new processes and improved participation methods in order to create new solutions that prioritize and give political weight to ideas that advance humanity, preserve and benefiting all in our species, above a narrow set of national self-interests.

Swae’s Winning Submission

The submission on behalf of Swae proposed the introduction of a technology platform to decentralize global governance to participatory and deliberative models. Using an AI-based collaboration platform (which we were in the early stages of prototyping), we intended to fuel much greater citizen collaboration and ideation around policies and budget suggestions, as the entry point for decentralized and meaningful citizen participation in governance. By using technology and AI for the good, Swae intended to create alternative forms of sovereignty, across the local, national and international spheres, to challenge or complement the authority and sovereignty of nation-states to make decisions about our collective well-being.

Here’s our in-depth proposal “Reinventing Global Governance and Democracy through AI-supported Bottom-up Deliberation”: Download the PDF or View Online.

How we used the award?

Two years really seems to fly by when you’re building a company and trying to democratize democracy! The win was an incredibly important milestone in our journey so far and helped really kick off the growth of Swae through the financial and reputational outcomes of this award.

Immediately upon the win, our startups financial pressures were (temporarily) alleviated, and the news of the award provided validation of and interest in our concept. Because of this, it attracted new interest from angel investors, new potential clients, and a host of enthusiasts (researchers, philosophy and political theorists, documentary film makers, activists, other technology providers, etc.) who had worked on similar ideas or were absolutely thrilled to see a group recommending a non-incremental change to our democratic processes and the management of global affairs. The award, and this relative validation, created pilot opportunities for us to scope out. We were able to grow our user base and much, much more (see more below).

Here’s a shortlist of some of the things that we were able to achieve with this award.

  • We got the financial runway to build a MVP of our platform and really move forward in a more progressive manner
  • We were able to recruit important members of our core team (CTO and Co-Founder, strong advisors, Marketing Lead, etc.)
  • We launched 5 pilot programs and signed our first commercial annual contract
  • We were able to grow our user base from 0 to over 15,000+
  • Since being able to initially grow the team, we retracted twice given market uncertainties and now we face the latest issues caused by the COVID-19 crisis

Below is our winning pitch and below that we the slide deck that won us the prize.

Click here to see our presentation deck

In part two of this series, we’ll provide a more in-depth look at what we’ve accomplished, learned and struggled with since the win — stay tuned!

And, once again, our sincere thank you goes out to the Global Challenges Foundation for this award!

Our Response to Covid-19: Announcing Swae Public

Our Response to Covid-19: Announcing Swae Public

Helping Teams, Organizations, and Governments Adapt to Digital Decision-Making

TLDR: Swae is launching a publicly accessible version of Swae to empower Teams, Organizations, and Governments to rapidly adapt to digital and remote decision-making during and after the coronavirus crisis

If there was ever a time for Swae, it’s now.

The Covid-19 Crisis is a watershed moment for reorganizing society to embrace a remote and digital-first reality. While most institutions have been unprepared to work and make decisions remotely, adapting decision-making process to embrace this remote reality is vital to the world’s progress at government and organizational levels. Almost every decision is one we’ve never faced before, and the need for inclusion, transparency, competition for the best solutions, and quality data and arguments has never been more important.

To help teams, companies, and governments adapt accordingly, over the next 4 weeks Swae will be launching a public open version of the platform that allows any organization or local government that is finding the ability to make collective decisions during this time quite difficult, to sign up and launch their own Swae environments.

Swae’s platform works a lot like Slack, which most teams and companies are already comfortable with, and enables them to make collective decisions over the internet quickly, conveniently, and safely.

Use cases include 1) digital annual general meetings, 2) remote team decision-making, and, 3) digital policy making and governance, and many more.

Background

As the situation with Coronavirus (Covid-19) unfolds daily, we incrementally accept that this pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon and will have very long term consequences. While experts ponder the full extent of the implications, one thing is for certain: Covid-19 has created a watershed moment for remote work and digital alternatives to physical meetings.

From team coordination, alignment, consensus building, strategic formation, governance and policy-making, our physical decision-making processes need to adapt to a world where much more must happen online. Remote work, remote collaboration, and remote and digital decision-making is here to stay and we must adapt our teams, companies, and governments accordingly.

Earlier in March 2020, British Columbia’s Premier, The Honorable John Horgan, discussed how badly they needed digital alternatives to a physical parliament convening, so that the policy makers could exchange a healthy debate about possible legislation the government was considering to enact into law. I imagine this is the case all around the world, where every government needs to ratify certain decisions into legislation and requires the benefits of healthy deliberation to identify and address any inherent biases or unintended consequences to make the best possible programs, policies, and solutions under the circumstances.

There are many actions that require digital alternatives that can work just as well as an in-person reality which includes;

  1. team alignment, collaboration, brainstorming, and decision-making,
  2. citizen inclusion in the policy design process,
  3. stakeholder inclusion in data gathering and solution formation for executive policy and strategy decisions, 
  4. digitizing annual general meetings.

Now more than ever, people need the right tools, platforms, and safe environments to make high quality collective decisions about a lot of things that remain uncertain.

Now more than ever, people need the right tools, platforms, and safe environments to make high quality collective decisions about a lot of things that remain uncertain. We are having to make decisions around topics that we’ve never had to face previously. Decisions such as possible changes to mortgage laws, employment insurance, rental vacations, policies at work around compensation, benefits and entitlements for small businesses, public policy about self-isolation, the border, etc.

The need for inclusion, transparency, a competition for the best solutions that includes high quality data, input, and arguments/perspectives has never been more important to ease the tensions and move forward with legitimacy.

The need for inclusion, transparency, a competition for the best solutions that includes high quality data, input, and arguments/perspectives has never been more important to ease the tensions and move forward with legitimacy.

 

Swae for the Public

 

Until now, Swae has been serving enterprise clients and government entities with its business-to-business platform. Swae has, for example, handled organizations such as Etihad Airways, Bosch, Doctors without Borders, amongst others with over 25,000 employees and over 15,000 active users. While we’ve experienced great results since launching our MVP product 16 months ago, the platform required a lot of customization and further integrations to make it work well for each organization.

Given the times we face and the need for remote inclusion, over the next 4 weeks Swae will launch a platform open to the public, that will allow any organization or local government to sign up and launch their own Swae environment (that is similar to using a Slack environment) to help teams, companies, and governments adapt accordingly.

Leveraging all our learnings and feature improvements to date, users will initially walk through a light configuration and integration process, and then begin inviting other users into Swae to begin ideating, and creating competing solutions to various challenges and inviting competing proposals from stakeholders to make high-quality and legitimate collective decisions over the internet.

With a few clicks and an easy onboarding process, remote teams, NGOs, small businesses, companies, and governments will be able to make inclusive, transparent, AI-supported, and merit-based decisions collectively during this crisis.

Use Cases & Pricing

Use cases for this public version of Swae can include:

Digital Policy Making — convening governments remotely to deliberate over legislation,

Digital Annual General Meetings (AGMs) — to digitally host your upcoming annual general meeting

Remote Team Decision-Making — teams can crowdsource a variety of solutions to a common challenge for survival strategy or compensation policies during any crisis.

Swae will offer flexible or, in some cases, free pricing in order to make sure that cost is no barrier to helping people use the most robust digital and remote platform for decision-making during this time.

Next week we’ll release more details of the features and a timeline on how we’ll be opening up Swae to the public to help all types of organizations, local governments, and communities leverage our technology to make the collective ideation and decision-making process much more technologically savvy, remote, safe, and convenient.

This is the moment that we all can come together to hear all of the relevant solutions and alternatives that matter, and use a fact and merit-based process for deciding the important decisions that we need to make. Our response matters. Please stay tuned as we release more.

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