Kopernik: Crowdfunding World-Changing Design
Humanitarian three-ways, or what Polish astronomy has to with the future of civilization.
By Maria Popova
We fully endorsed Emily Pilloton’s vision that design can empower people and change the world. But there’s often a disonnect between the world-changing products and technologies that get dreamt up, and the actual ability to fund them and get them in the hands of those who need them the most.
No more. At least not if it’s up to Kopernik, a revolutionary new social platform that connects breakthrough technologies with the people and communities whose lives they will better the most, harnessing the power of crowdsourced microfunding.
The name, of course, comes from Copernicus, the Polish Renaissance astronomer who busted the geocentric model of the universe and completely changed the way people perceived the way around them — an aspirational metaphor for Kopernik‘s ambition to revolutionize how people see and understand the biggest challenges the world faces today.
From a rollable water container for women in East Timor, to self-adjustable glasses (remember those?) for refugees without access to eye clinics, to computer training for Sierra Leonean youth, Kopernik lets development groups write short proposals and submit them to the public for crowdfunding. Sort of like a humanitarian Kickstarter, which then does a three-way connect with individual supporters, technology provider companies, and the local organizations who seek those technologies.
Founded by a team of United Nations and World Bank expats, Kopernik is planning to expand beyond crowdfunding proposals and into developing their own products with DIY and open-source instructions that local communities can use to build technologies.
Because the only kind of design revolution that’s going to stick is one where grassroots empowerment lets people take ownership of the very solutions that are changing their lives.
Published February 25, 2010