Innovation Challenge



In a world where repressive regimes constantly step up their coercive game and target human rights defenders, we need to find smart solutions that enable continued human rights work globally. When you enter the Innovation Challenge (IC), you get the chance of becoming that solution. You can receive funding to turn your idea into a prototype.


The Innovation Initiative, which innovates directly for HRDs all around the world, invites you to share your idea for IC 2019.


Innovation Challenge 2019 is scouting the globe for innovative ideas. Any application closely connected to one of the following themes can be submitted:

Data Visualisation


We are seeking ideas or tools to package data to make nice reports, evidence-based arguments or advocacy. We’re also open to sweet ways to measure impact.

Gender Equality


Equality is not only a fundamental human right, but also key to a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable future. We are seeking ideas that strives towards creating equal access and opportunities to resources and decision-making structures.



We’re looking for ideas on how to activate the slumbering masses to become engaged supporters of a human rights cause. This could also entail supporting an idea that tries to create a new movement around a cause.


Innovation Challenge grants are awarded to applicants with particularly innovative ideas aimed at increasing HRDs security or impact.


Anyone is welcome to apply: companies, government actors, non-profits, for-profits, education establishments, NGOs or individuals. It is however required that the entity has the ability to receive funding and has an audit capacity, meaning one can make financial reports. Applicants can apply with multiple ideas, however, only one application per entity will qualify for the second round. Which application will be decided by Civil Rights Defenders.




Applicants will be required to provide information in stages. This makes applying really easy. You submit your application through this page.


IC 2019 will have the following rounds:


  • First Round: Idea Submission;


  • Second Round: Additional Information;


  • Third Round: Screening Review.


The first round is intentionally kept brief, essentially we only ask the applicant to share an idea with a little context. We understand how precious time is and only ask for the bare minimum. If the shared idea intrigues us, the applicant will be invited to participate in the second round. Here we will ask for a more thorough application, for example, project plan and budget.


The third round screening review consists of a dialogue between Civil Rights Defenders and the applicant designed to better understand the idea. The number of finalists remains flexible, as it is based on applicants’ budget requests, which will be further explained below.


Applicants who are participating openly, that haven’t asked to remain anonymous due to security concerns, will be announced as they excel through each round.




Innovation Challenge 2019 does not have a set amount for the winner(s), there will be one pool of money available, meaning there can be multiple winners. All applicants are encouraged to apply with the budget they need to implement their project. Therefore we advice applicants to apply for realistic and justified amounts.


The total amount of money available to winners of the Innovation Challenge 2019 is 300,000 SEK.




The winners will receive a grant with requirements and reporting attached. Each grant will be tailor-made to suit the specific project and applicant. As a result, winners will undergo further due diligence to ensure they meet the requirements before a contract is issued. If not, they will be unable to receive their grant and therefore will be dropped from the competition.





Tue 27 Nov: First round applications opened


Wed 9 Jan: First round applications close


Tue 22 Jan: Second round begins


Tue 12 Feb: Second round closes


Mon 25 Feb: Third round begins


Fri 15 Mar: Third round closes


Thu 11 Apr: Winner(s) announced




Civil Rights Defenders reserves the right to withdraw, at any time, any application deemed ineligible or not in line with the intent and purpose of the Innovation Challenge.


This includes, but is not limited to: registration of multiple email addresses, publishing unduly and irrelevant negative material on competing ideas, spamming, discriminatory, illegal or any other practices that could compromise the outcome of the competition.




In order for us to be able to contact applicants making it to the second round, you will be asked to submit personal information. We will treat your personal details in strict compliance with relevant legislation. Personal data will be deleted after one year. For more information kindly consult our privacy policy.

Kindly note that all fields are mandatory



Entity name


Project name

Country or countries of focus

How much funding are you seeking?

Can we communicate your participation?

Which theme are you applying under?

What is your innovative idea?
Maximum 1000 characters

Who are you?
Maximum 250 characters

How does your idea engage HRDs?
Maximum 500 characters

Will anyone outside of your entity assist in project implementation?
Maximum 250 characters

Why should YOU win?
Maximum 250 characters


Please consult the above information carefully before applying. If you have a question, send us an email. If your question has already been answered above, Civil Rights Defenders will not respond, so please read the information thoroughly.


Previous Winners

The Innovation Iniciative is proud of our collaboration with the winners from the Innovation Challenge 2018 and 2017. Click the button below to learn more about the work that we have funded in the past. 

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Civil Rights Defenders

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