Only three months ago we launched our global partnership programme. Today, we have 6 local partners who support us in shaping local democracies for the digital era. 

And we’re extremely proud of that! That’s why we’re excited to introduce you to two of our new partners, Maximilian and Artur, who will be contributing to building digital democracies in Germany and Poland respectively.

But first… Why a partnership programme?

We believe every community can benefit from digital citizen participation, regardless of size or location. Via our platform, we hope to contribute to public decision-making around the world by making it more effective, transparent, and collaborative. This is an objective we can’t achieve alone.

That’s why we’re eager to work with local experts who are passionate to make a change in their community or country! We realize that on the ground implementation of digital democracy requires practical know-how and a deep understanding of the local context. Our local partners are value-added-resellers who are looking to extend their business by consulting, selling and implementing our participation platform for clients in the public sector.
Learn more about our partnership programme and the different types of partners it covers.

Meet Artur Kacprzak, our partner in Poland 🇵🇱

What did you do before you joined the CitizenLab team?

Artur: “Before joining CitizenLab, I spent most of my time on development cooperation and programming. Together with friends, I created Eastbook.eu, a project which aims to spread democratic values by moderating dialogue between EU member states and Eastern Partnership countries. I have also been a part of the Democratic Society East, where I organized security training in Ukraine to journalists in war conditions as well as training to evaluate public policies. In recent years, I mainly worked as an independent IT Project Manager & Developer for different projects.”

Why did you decide to partner up with CitizenLab?

Artur: “Following the continuing conflict in Ukraine, I understand that democracy is not only a standard of living but also a matter of security. There were no armed conflicts between consolidated democracies in modern history, and I believe that when people’s voice is respected with a deeply rooted culture of participation, freedom of speech, fair and free elections, societies choose representatives who seek compromise.

CitizenLab managed to harness technology into a democratic process and reveals opportunities I didn’t know existed. The participation platform provides chances for debate and more citizen input in decision-making. In that way, it almost reinvents local democracy as it used to be in ancient Greek poleis.

Owing to my background as a developer and IT project manager, I appreciate the quality standards implemented in the software. The CitizenLab platform truly convinced me with its simplicity and intuitiveness. I am very happy to present to Polish cities the possibilities of the participation platform as I believe it will add great value to Polish democracy. I have never seen such a tool in Poland and I’m convinced that CitizenLab is at the forefront of many more solutions aiming to improve citizen engagement in public affairs.”

What is your ambition for digital citizen participation in Poland?

Artur: “Living in a country that boards two authoritarian states and a country in war strongly influences my viewpoint. It lets me greet CitizenLab’s tool, which strengthens local democracies, with open arms and ensures I’m devoted to the mission – and to make it work. From the first day of our partnership, I thus formulated three aims for digital engagement in Poland:

  • Strengthen and consolidate citizens’ sense of influence to shape public affairs. This can be done by ensuring maximized participation of citizens in the decision-making process at the local level.
  • Enhance democratic culture in Poland its public debate.
  • Reduce the distance between local authorities and citizens to a minimum.

I’m glad to be a part of the passionate CitizenLab team, who have already been working for five years to improve engagement and participation in local democracies. Moreover, I’m excited to join the Polish community of experts and activists working hard on our engagement and participation culture for the last three decades.”

Meet Maximilian Engel, our partner in Germany 🇩🇪

What did you do before you joined the CitizenLab team?

Maximilian: “Before joining CitizenLab, I was part of entrepreneur Lab or eLab in Berlin (I know right! What’s up with all the Labs?). Here I managed everything from partnerships worldwide to selecting prospective students for our entrepreneur boot camps at campuses in Berlin and London. Since graduating from my Masters back in 2016, I’ve actually always gravitated towards social entrepreneurship. I’ve worked on solar projects in the Amazon, consulted B Corp organisations and co-founded a social food startup. All these roles relate to my drive for social and environmental impact; a North star that has always been important to me in picking my next project.” 

Why did you decide to partner up with CitizenLab?

Maximilian: “CitizenLab presents the convergence of two areas that I’m passionate about: politics and tech. I have a background in political science and made a few forays into the tech industry within this context. So things seem to come full circle. Now that governments can no longer ignore digitalisation and e-participation, particularly against the backdrop of COVID-19 and social movements, it’s safe to say that Civic Tech has a bright future ahead – with CitizenLab in it! My decision was really based on being at the nexus of policy and tech with purpose, while operating in a future-proof industry. And it also helps that my colleagues are all very nice people.”

What is your ambition for digital citizen participation in Germany?

Maximilian: “There aren’t many participatory initiatives in Germany yet, but there are some inspiring and noteworthy projects. Cologne’s acclaimed ‘Bürgerhaushalt Köln’ (participatory budget) or Dortmund’s award-winning project ‘Nordwärts’ both managed to create bottom-up stakeholder dialogues to improve citizens’ living quality in all areas. Unfortunately, these initiatives are still fairly scarce, especially in rural municipalities in Germany. 

COVID-19 has made it painfully clear that digitalisation in municipalities around Germany has been an area of neglect. A German study by the Herties School of Governance from 2016 concluded that eGovernment and Digitalisation was the #1 issue in Germany. It stated that city administrations “have difficulty opening up and are very busy with themselves. For example, less than a quarter of the heads of public authorities see a benefit in involving citizens in the design of digital administrative services.” Germany may have come a long way since then, but it remains a challenge. 

Therefore, my ambition is to move digital participation from an anecdotal event to a key feature of democracy in Germany. While I don’t think it will happen overnight, particularly in Germany, which traditionally has been a representative democracy, I believe it will be an integral part of German political culture in 10 years from now. And I’m excited to contribute to that by partnering up with CitizenLab!”

Are you our new partner? We’re happy to talk to you!

At CitizenLab, we’re redefining democracy and improving citizen participation, and we want to make this impact globally. However, we recognize we may not understand every national context and don’t pretend to. This is where our fantastic partners come in! We bring the platform and a solid support system to the table and partners bring their local expertise; together we deliver a great solution for our mutual clients.

Being a CitizenLab Partner presents the opportunity to be part of a growing, trusted network of experts who are strengthening digital democracy and invigorating citizen engagement and participation. If you want to be part of our global community and have an interest in working with and influencing the public sector, please get in touch!Alexandra Chandran, our Head of Partnerships

We’re always open to new partnerships! Get in touch with us to discover more details about our partnership programme.

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