Partos Innovation Festival

Thursday the 11th of October, Data4Development participated in the Partos Innovation Festival in Amsterdam. We gave half-hourly workshops on ProMEva and IATI, Gyan got to go on speeddates and Maaike was part of a panel on ‘Data & Digitalisation’. In this blog, we will recap the interesting and inspiring day at the Innovation Festival.

The day started off with a speech by Mark Kamau, tech entrepreneur from Kenya, with an interesting question: Should we keep working on our technological development, while the rest stays behind? He sees a great inequality when it comes to internet access and has found a possible solution: A small box which gives off an open WiFi-signal; the ‘BRCK’. Entrepreneurs can buy this box to attract customers and people that do not have the money to access internet, can surf the net for free. It was fascinating how he managed to build a strong business case around such a social idea. Then, it was time for Maaike to talk at the panel about ‘Data & Digitalisation’. On the sixth floor, with fifty people in attendance and sitting next to Linda Raftree and Tin Geber, she told about different challenges regarding data. It was a very interactive panel with questions regarding data extraction from countries in development, the dangers of data visualization, the importance of a strong connection between innovation and the backbone of the organization and the way in which data is underappreciated by NGOs.
Linda Raftree also saw a great variety in the questions, but also saw a recurring theme. People felt a pressure to innovate, but did not really know how to start. Because of this, they asked the ‘wrong’ questions, like what percentage of the revenue should go to data innovation, or which tool they should use. People miss the expertise to work with data in a way that benefits their organization. Even though this is the case, awareness and interest in the subject is growing, which was shown by the number of questions asked in the panel. After a lunch with vegetarian sandwiches, it was time for the session about ‘Storytelling for social impact’, in which Ludo Hekman told about his research into the Dutch armstrade. He had a very innovative way of investigating this topic. By integrating help he got from the public through the internet, he managed to uncover a lot more than he would be able to by himself. It was inspiring that a profession as old as journalism still can be innovated in this way.
It was a overwhelming day, filled with new impressions and information, but it was all worth it. We learned about new business models, that innovation is always possible and that NGOs are starting to see the value of their data. Through the festival, we were inspired and stimulated to work with Data4Development to help our clients innovate and increase their social impact.