Catalyst awards promote web for good

A new set of awards to promote the use of the social web to meet social needs was launched this evening in London with the backing of the Prime Minister … and I think they could help make a real difference to the way new technology is used for good.

Award schemes can too often be much hype and hoorahs up to the launch, then little action afterwards. Winners find the money doesn’t go far, and the contacts made don’t turn out to be that useful after all. The UKCatalyst Awards have been designed as a two-stage process in which projects first compete, and are then given support.

The Minister for the Third Sector, Phil Hope, was at NESTA to give the awards a formal send off, and was full of enthusiasm for the potential. Dan McQuillan of Make Your Mark, who are organising the awards, explained how they will work.

As you can see here, the award categories are more interesting than usual too, including the Shock for Good Award, Chalk and Cheese, and David and Goliath.

What was just as interesting as the awards was the cluster of people involved in the “web for good” field. As I wrote recently, there’s a lot happening in London at present, and a real sense of joining up and thinking through how to ensure ideas and projects are supported.

Phil Hope emphasised the aim of the awards is to bring to the fore good projects, and make connections. Dan McQuillan is one of the team who ran Social Innovation Camp, all now thinking how best to support not just the winners, but the other projects developed there. They and other have been talking to NESTA about how to draw on their wider experience of innovation processes to achieve this.

Despite keeping to the fruit juice I’m feeling a bit too weary at present to draw out all the strands I picked up tonight, but will be able to do more in working with Steve Moore and others on a digital festival planned in London on July 2 and 3, supported by Channel4. We aim to make development of the Festival another way to do some joining up. More soon when we get the web site up.

I think the Catalyst awards are important because they are just that – ways of bringing together good ideas, good people, innovative technologies. It all felt good – which is a great start towards doing good. How cheering to be among optimistic people in difficult times.

More video, shot on phone, here, here and here. Still haven’t figured a way to get better sound …hope you get the flavour anyway.