European AI Fund Open Call 2022

 

EUROPEAN AI FUND 2022 OPEN CALL

Artificial Intelligence and automated decision making are transforming the world. But too often these technologies are developed without consideration for the needs of the individuals and communities they affect. For a fair, inclusive and sustainable future, a wide range of voices must help decide what role AI should play in European societies. The European AI Fund works to make sure civil society is heard loud and clear.

We are now inviting applications for core funding of between €50,000 and €250,000 over two years that will support organisations to build policy and advocacy capacity. The deadline for applications is 25 July 2022.

The European AI Fund empowers a diverse ecosystem of civil society organisations to shape technology and policy around Artificial Intelligence. We support specialist organisations working on digital issues to have greater impact. And we support organisations focused on other issues such as climate, race, migration, labour rights or justice among others to better understand how AI affects the communities they represent and advocate for their needs.

We are a young Fund and this is only our second Open Call. We are incredibly proud of the work our first Open Call grantees have achieved. They have amplified the voice of civil society during a crucial phase of regulation development around Artificial Intelligence. Through sustained and strategic advocacy, as well as effective co-ordination, they have achieved tangible impact.

But the work is not done. As new legislation comes into force, it’s important that it’s effectively enforced. Technical standards must be developed that work in the interest of the public. Numerous other initiatives continue to emerge at European, national and international levels. Civil society must have the capacity and resilience to continue to shape technology policy for the long term. To support this, we are opening a second call for proposals.

We offer flexible core funding as well as non-financial support like training and network-building. We try to understand what each of our partners needs and let them be in the driver’s seat.

The European AI Fund 2022 Open Call offers a total of 1.8m euros in core funding to support organisations on two fronts:

  • Organisations that already focus on AI and its impacts: support to strengthen their policy and advocacy capacity
  • Organisations that focus primarily on other issues: support to build up their expertise and capacity around AI and its impacts on the communities they represent

Application timeline

How to apply

We aim to make the application process as lightweight as possible for organisations. The first stage will require a brief outline (1-2 pages) of your organisation and your work. You can access the application form here.

You can take a look at the questions in the application form here.

We will be holding online Open Call Open Door sessions throughout the application period to allow organisations to learn more about the Fund and ask any questions they have.  You can see the schedule and sign up through the links below:

We will let you know in September if your organisation has been selected for the second stage of applications. At that point we will get in touch to ask for a more detailed proposal.

Funding key information

The grant provides general operating support and core support for institutional strengthening that empowers organisations to do policy and advocacy work that will shape the future of AI in Europe.

The European AI Fund accepts applications from civil society organisations registered in the EU, EEA, the UK, and Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, and North Macedonia. This call is not open to organisations that received funding through our first Open Call. We will hold separate conversations with existing grantees that wish to renew funding.

Grant amounts may vary depending on the needs of the organisation. We aim to issue grants ranging from €50,000 to a maximum of €250,000. Our total funding budget for this open call is up to €1.8m.

Grants will be awarded for a two-year period, commencing in November 2022.

In our first Open Call we received 220 applications. We invited 32 organisations to submit a full application and we issued 16 grants totalling 2.15m euros.

More about the European AI Fund

The European AI Fund is a philanthropic initiative by a coalition of foundations and is hosted by the Network of European Foundations. Our current partners are Bertelsmann Stiftung, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Fondation Nicolas Puech, Ford Foundation, King Baudouin Foundation, Limelight Foundation, Luminate, Mozilla Foundation, Oak Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Porticus, Robert Bosch Foundation and Stiftung Mercator.

The AI Fund’s governing body, the Steering Committee, comprises representatives from all partner foundations and is led by two elected co-chairs. The Fund is run day to day by the Director, Catherine Miller, and Programme Manager Alexandra Toth.

More about the 2022 Open Call

The European AI Fund’s 2022 Open Call aims to build on the work of our 2020 cohort and further strengthen the civil society ecosystem working on AI and its impacts.

As well as financial support, the European AI Fund works to connect our cohort of grantee partners and create spaces for collaboration and learning to flourish. We invite organisations to tell us what support they would find useful and work together to achieve their goals.

You can read more about our work and the lessons we have learned in our Annual Reviews here and here and our research about funding the AI and society landscape here

  • For organisations that focus on AI and its impacts

We want to support organisations with a primary focus on technology and digital rights to increase their organisational capacity so that they are better able to engage in advocacy and policymaking around AI. We recognise that advocacy takes place at different levels of government – international, European, national and local – as well as through engagement with industry and wider civil society and we want to promote a range of strategies to shape the future of AI in Europe. Organisations with existing expertise on AI and those with advocacy experience from recent regulation development, can also support the ecosystem by sharing their knowledge with other civil society groups and by co-ordinating to leverage the capacity of the wider network.

  • For organisations that focus on other sectors or issues

We want to support organisations that have existing expertise in other issues to build up their understanding of AI and its impact on their field of interest and the communities they represent. These organisations can help shape the future of AI in Europe by articulating the needs of people most affected by technological change. We support organisations to explore AI’s impact on their sector and to surface their findings through storytelling, campaigns, advocacy or other approaches. Organisations with particular sector expertise can broaden the ecosytem, introducing a more diverse group of stakeholders to the conversation around the future of AI in Europe.

 

What are we looking for?

We want to fund organisations that have an actionable plan for how they will contribute to our mission. Tell us how you will help shape the future of AI in Europe and what part you can play in a European civil society ecosystem.

  • Relevance of issue: Tell us why your work is urgent. Why is it important that your organisation is supported by the AI Fund to shape the future direction of AI in Europe.
  • Advocacy: Explain how our support will build your capacity as an organisation to engage in these issues AND do policy and advocacy work around them.
  • Potential for impact: Tell us how you approach making change happen and some of the successes you’ve had in the past. What would that look like when you engage on shaping the future of AI.
  • Civil society ecosystem: What do you bring to the landscape? what is it that you can contribute to the civil society ecosystem? what will you learn? how could your work have a wider impact?
  • Capacity building: We want civil society to be resilient and sustainable. Tell us how our support will help your organisation engage over the long term.

The type of entities that are eligible are organisations with a non-for-profit status. This being said, another criterion of eligibility is the legal status of the organisation. Social enterprises that do not distribute profits to its members can be eligible as well. Universities fall into the latter, therefore are eligible.

What are we not looking for?

We will not fund proposals that are purely research focused without a clear plan about how research will be used to influence and shape the future direction of AI and/or support the civil society ecosystem.

We will not fund proposals that are purely about communications and marketing. We need to see that your work has the potential to drive tangible change.

We will not fund proposals to develop new technologies unless there is a compelling case about how this creates capacity for advocacy on the future direction of AI.

And just to reiterate – this is core funding to support capacity building, not for one-off projects.

 

How do we make decisions?

Funding decisions will be made by a selection committee made up of European AI Fund staff, partner foundations and external experts. We will assess applications against the criteria outlined above. Our mission is to support a ecosystem. This means we will evaluate applications in relation to one another and curate the cohort to represent a diversity of geographies, issues and approaches to making change.

The European AI Fund is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. We are currently exploring the best approach to reflect this in our work given the range of contexts we work in. In the application process we ask applicants to share their approach towards diversity, equity and inclusion to help us better understand the landscape and we will use this information to guide our future activities. This information will not influence decision making about funding in the current call for proposals.

 

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