Here you can find the answers to the most important questions around the program.

The basics

Who can apply?

  • You’re a German resident, self-employed and paying German taxes. (German citizenship is not required.) ✓
  • Your project is being published under an Open Source license. The code is publicly accessible, for example via GitHub or Bitbucket. ✓
  • You’re a legal adult. ✓

What does the Prototype Fund offer?

    • Up to €47,500 in funding over six months.*
    • Professional coaching in user-centered design and mentorship by our expert network.
    • Media outreach through our network.

Beyond offering the above, our goal is to grow a network of civic tech projects. During the project term, we’ll connect the participants with investors, potential partners and other support programs. Sustainability is very important to us and we want to help participants secure long-term support for their projects.

*This sum comes into effect with the 3rd round of applications.

Which kinds of projects can get funding?

  • Civic Tech: building digital tools for citizens, e.g.
    • New models or applications for creating, sharing and using (open) data
    • Data visualization and storytelling
    • Social engagement, transparency and citizen participation
  • Data Literacy: apps for the use and analysis of (open) data; tools that promote the ability to read, create and communicate data.
  • Data security: code that focuses on privacy, secure communications or data transmission and data minimisation.
  • Software infrastructure: tools that enable and facilitate the operation of software like the above.

What is the focus of the current round?

In addition to the areas of civic tech, data literacy, data security, and software infrastructure, we choose focus areas for the funding rounds. The 7th round focusses on the relationship between Technology, Society & Trust: “Engineering Trust”.

How complicated is the application process?

Not at all. Simply explain your project to us by answering seven short questions in our application form.

What does the schedule look like?

Each application period lasts 2 months. The current application round is open from Aug 1 – Sept 30, 2019.

We will notify you 8 weeks after the deadline whether your application has been successful. Note that it might take us more time to give all the projects fair review if the number of applicants exceeds our expectations.

Once you’ve made it into the final round, we will work with you to file the required paperwork with the Federal Ministry for Education and Research during our application workshop.

The project term of our 7th round starts with a Kick Off Workshop in Berlin on March 1, 2020, and all participants will be invited. After the kick off workshop, you will work on your projects for the next six months until our Demo Day, where we present all projects to the community.

From when till when can I apply?

There are eight funding rounds.

  1. 1st round: 08-01-2016–09-30-2016
  2. 2nd round: 02-01-2017–03-31-2017
  3. 3rd round: 08-01-2017–09-30-2017
  4. 4th round: 02-01-2018–03-31-2018
  5. 5th round: 01-08-2018–30-09-2018
  6. 6th round: 01-02-2019–31-03-2019
  7. 7th round: 01-08-2019–30-09-2019
  8. 8th round: 01-02-2020–31-03-2020

Can I apply with a project that already exists?

Yes, you can. However, your proposal ought to be clearly defined and and have its own degree of novelty, e.g. you plan to expand or enhance your preexisting project with a new module. In any case, you need to make clear what you will be working on during the 6-month project term.

Who will assess my idea?

A jury of experts will evaluate and rate all submissions. You can find the jury here.

By what criteria will my project be evaluated?

The jury will pay particular attention to the following:

  • Does the project belong in the field promoted by the Prototype Fund; does is perhaps address the focus topic of the round?
  • Scope and social impact of the project – How many people benefit from your project?
  • Innovation – How new and exciting is your idea?
  • Realizability – Do you have the necessary skills to implement the idea, and is the idea realizable within 6 months?

Can I submit my proposal in English?

Unfortunately, no. We only accept applications in German as the program is funded by the German government.

The Details

I am working on my project as part of a team, is there anything I should be aware of?

All team members that receive funding through the Prototype Fund need to be German residents. Teams can apply as a “Gesellschaft bürgerlichen Rechts”, which is a partnership under German civil law. The GbR always acts as the applicant. You decide on a project lead or team member to act as a director, who validly represents the GbR (and who also takes part in the application workshop and signs the application). We can provide you with a template for a GbR if you make it into the final round.

If you want to be funded as a team, you should state the different modules within the project, and assign them to the team members.

Under which license do I need to publish the software that I develop during the funding period?

The software has to be published under an open source license. The code needs to be publicly accessible (through, for instance, a public Github or Bitbucket repository). We recommend using the MIT license.

What does the funding consist of?

Each project will be funded for 6 months at most, and with a maximum amount of 47,500€. The amount of funding always amounts to 95% of the overall project budget. The remaining 5% are your own contribution – meaning the time that you spend on pursuing the project. Through other incomes (e.g. from an employment contract or other orders) and savings, you can prove that you are actually able to invest this time gratuitously.

What are the payment modalities?

The grant will be paid in instalments based on the work carried out at the beginning of each new quarter.

Example: The eligibility period starts on 01.03.2017, therefore you can call for funds at the beginning of the new quarter (in this case, in April) proportionately to the work you performed.

What happens after the project term?

At the end of the 6-month project term we invite all teams to take part in a demo day, which serves to present results/prototypes and to discuss achievements, challenges, and problems. Aside from the teams, we also invite selected guests to take part. All projects will be featured on our website. During the project term we will connect you with mentors, sponsors, and other participants. As a part of the Prototype Fund network, you will remain closely connected to the program even after your project term has ended.

Apart from publishing your code in one of the repositories, you will need to write a short and clear project report that will be published as well.

Will I get feedback if my idea is not accepted for funding?

Your project outline will receive comments during the assessment phase; if there is any other feedback on your project, we are happy to share it with you.

Who is ineligible?

Business companies, universities, non-university research facilities and other institutions are not eligible for application.

Can I reapply with the same project if I was rejected the first time?

Yes, you can.

Can I apply with several projects at the same time?

Yes, provided that your estimated working hours allow for it.

Do I have to pay taxes on the grants?

No, you do not have to pay taxes (VAT) on the funding itself.

What should I do if my question is not here?

Never hesitate to contact us at: bewerbung@prototypefund.de.

We will expand this list of questions continuously.

We consider the Prototype Fund to be a prototype itself. The program is the first public funding program by a German Federal Ministry that specifically aims at freelance open source developers. We are continuously engaged in improving and adapting the program. After each funding term, we will conduct an evaluation for which we rely on your feedback in order to make the next term even better. In the next three years, we want to learn a lot, share our experiences with you, and help you achieve your plans and projects.

Logo: Das Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)
Logo: Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland