Digital + Culture = Creative Economy

Archive for the category “Show and tell”

The future of Egypt is a bright future: Culture Shift results

A challenge

54 people, approximately 1/3 technical, 1/3 creative and cultural, and 1/3 business focussed, came together last Thursday evening with little idea of what would happen.

They’d been asked to think about what challenges and opportunities faced the creative and cultural sector in Egypt. After an evening brainstorming solutions and voting, they got down to work to try to build a proof-of-concept solution to address these challenges.

These teams had a bit of help from both UK and Egyptian mentors, and a prototyping workshop courtesy of Snook and a workshop on investment readiness from FirstPort.

Here’s what they built:

In first place, with project funding of £3,000: Meshabbek.

This is a platform to help creative people find the right talent and skills to make their projects come alive – from mash-ups (I’d like a musician to make a soundtrack to my book) to collaborators to agents and skilled technical specialists, you’ll be able to find the collaborator you need for your project.

In joint second place, with project funding of £1,000 each: Torathna and Tour Story.

Torathna will build tools for communities of readers to find the next book to read – from coordinating offline meetings to online discussion forums, they are targeting high-value readers. They’re working with the Cairo Hackerspace who are working with the open-source DIY Scanner project to get out-of-print and hard-to-find Arabic language texts scanned as well.

The Tour Story team built a working prototype of their app, which will be a location-aware information tool providing information about architecture, art, and public spaces. Tour Story will be a free app over the web, but provide paid-for downloadable contentfor tourists to access offline information.

Honourable mention, with free mentorship from Gemiza: Ididi

Ididi tackled the problem of motivation for artists – building a community to help creatives get encouragement for different types of projects – including using gaming technology and badges to keep artists moving in the face of day-to-day challenges. Several other teams said this was an application they needed themselves!

7eita w Zeita

This means “Walls and noise” in Arabic. 7eita w Zeita wants to challenge the notion of public space and make it creative space, initially preserving and archiving street art and publishing t-shirts, hoodies, and jackets (while splitting the profits with the artists and art programmes) and eventually starting a street art and music festival in Cairo.

This team’s application would give points-based challenges to tourists to find out more about the local culture – from taking public transport (a hard one, as we found out today whilst leaping from the moving platform) to eating Koshari (an easier, lovely simple dish). The app would move you from “khawaga” status to that of a local over time.

If this is Cairo’s future…

Then that future is a bright one – thus spoke Beatrice Pembroke, director of the Cultural and Creative Economy’s team, and she is utterly correct.

The response to these teams was overwhelming – the judges and the audience were blown away and Twitter is alive with discussion about the projects.

Moataz Nasr el din, the founder of Darb17/18, decided on the spot to organise a second pitching session at Darb17/18 in a month’s time so that teams can speak with other potential funders. One of the mentors, Ramy Habeeb, has offered the team mentorship to make their idea a reality. The Cairo Hackerspace offered help and support to any of the six teams – from space to technical assistance.

We’re thrilled with the turnout, and are looking forward to seeing what the team brings forth in future.

Don’t forget to check out (And upload your!) photos on our Facebook page as well.


Culture Shift Kenya – results!

Over the past three days, a team of 45 of Kenya’s premiere creative, cultural, design, technical, and business talent came together for an experiment: to explore the challenges faced by the creative and cultural people of Kenya. The teams began with an analysis of the challenges these creative groups face – from musicians and fine artists, to traditional craftspeople and graffiti artists.

What they did

They built new business ideas with the stakes forming an investment of £5,000 along with help turning their prototypes to reality, ranging from mentorship and access to Nairobi’s iHub to space on a Creative Entrepreneurship course being created by the British Council in partnership with the GoDown Arts Centre.

The judging

The standard set by the teams was rather high: the judges had great difficulty choosing a winner, the judges tore up the rulebook, splitting the first-place investment prize into two prizes, and reaching into their own pockets to provide a modest investment for a pair of runner-up team.

The winners: Pakacha

Pakacha (chest, or kit, in kiSwahili) is a platform to help artists find and sell art supplies – from paint to theatre lights to camera lenses. Sellers can list art supplies for hire, barter, or sale, and buyers text an SMS shortcode at 5 Kenyan Shillings (about £.04) to contact the seller. Art supplies are irregularly available in Kenya, and the barter and hire economy is critical for a range of arts.

Pakacha will receive £4,000 in funding for their idea, plus mentorship, 6 months’ access to the iHub, and a place on the Creative Entrerpeneurship course.

Second place: Rubiani

Rubiani sought to connect buyers of local, handcrafted goods directly with the makers of those goods, by building a mobile application with information on local crafts in different areas. They will start with the Maasai Mara, a highly sought tourist destination and will seek to partner with tourist agencies and target the over 1 million tourists coming to Kenya each year.

Rubiani will receive £1,000 in funding for their idea, plus mentorship, 6 months’ access to the iHub, and a place on the Creative Entrerpeneurship course.

Runner-up: artivism

artivism is working to coordinate on- and off-line activism with artists. They will start by documenting a current campaign of street art in Kenya to encourage a conversation about the upcoming elections, adding QR codes to those street art works and encouraging online conversations.

Runner-up: creatory

The creatory team thought that the stories created through the creation and experience of visual artists was critical to the arts’ appreciation. They are building a platform to help artists share the stories of their creation, and using some clever social engineering to get users to share their stories.

creatory and artivism will each receive £r00 in funding for their idea, plus a place on the Creative Entrerpeneurship course.

Rule of Thumb

Rule of Thumb built a working prototype of a ratings site for events organisers’ service providers – by collecting and presenting information on service providers from both events organisers and event attendees, they want to increase service providers’ reasons to provide top customer service.


e-Kwality is seeking to bring Kenyan musicians to the international stage. They will act as a music label and management company for Kenyan hip hop and r&b music, curating up-and-coming talent and marketing them abroad.


The C-Fund aims to connect artists, investor, and industry through an online community. They will create an on- and off-line community where performing artists can meet, collaborate, and find resources to help them build solid business plans around their work. These business plans can then be showcased to industry and investors.

Congratulations and thanks

The standard of projects was particularly high in Kenya – several teams worked through at least one night, and at least two teams performed well under particular challenges, including losing team members.

We’d also like to thank our judging panel, our mentors, the British Council in both Kenya and London, the iHub, and Social Innovation Camp for all their help.

We’re off to a well-deserved night’s sleep.

Culture Shift Nairobi Pitching Day!


The Culture Shift teams are preparing their pitches – the mentors have just seen all the draft pitches, and we don’t envy the judges the task ahead of them – to choose the top pitch from amongst the seven ideas being developed this weekend.

Several teams have pulled all-nighters, and teams are currently grabbing food to take back to their pitches – which start in 45 minutes.

Good luck to all 7 teams. We expect only the best.

Culture Shift Johannesburg – Result!

Over the past 2 ½ days, 50 developers, designers, and cultural & creative people came together at the Hub Johannesburg to build digital tools to challenges presented by cultural and creative professionals. There were highs, lows, and challenges for all six teams who were trying to do the nigh-impossible in just 48 hours.

Here’s what they built.

The Winners: QRiocity

The QRiocity team wanted to understand, explore, and share all the fascinating stories of South Africa. They hit on gathering data about areas in Johannesburg and putting that factual information curated into QR codes & SMS short codes on buildings, statues, and locations – a bit like English Heritage’s Blue Plaques. They then wanted to crowdsource personal stories around those stories – so if you read the QR code you are taken to a place where you can share an individual experience of that place.

The runners-up: Indabo

Indabo is a combination of the Zulu for “event” and “venue”. The Indabo team is building a platform to allow church halls, community centres, and sport fields to manage their venue spaces online, as well as to make that space available, with a revenue share between venues and the Indabo team.

Culture Club

Culture Club brings points-based real-time gaming to finding cultural events; they seek to curate unusual, underground, and interesting events around Johannesburg, and then get individuals to use their mobile app (Blackberry, the major platform in South Africa) to check in at events – further points come from rating, blogging, or reviewing events.


Prescholar builds a range of “preschool in a box” tools – noting that individuals who attend preschool do much better throughout their life, Pre-ScholaR tries to bring an inventive, creative toolkit to mothers and primary caretakers of children aged 3-6 to prepare Early Years children for literacy and creative expression.


Arts-In uses a digital platform to find business mentors and match them up with young, up-and-coming, and emerging artists. Through an online skills-sharing platform and regular networking and mentorship events, the Arts-IN team hopes to bring opportunities and business savvy to emerging artists.

Family Match

Family Match matches families from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds to promote cultural understanding. Modeled on a programme put in place in reunified Germany, Family Match attempts to bridge the cultural divide within one of the most diverse countries in the world.

Congratulations to all six teams – a lot of hard work went into this weekend (not to mention a fair amount of wine, beer, cider, and food) and the teams did some stellar work. We’re off to sleep now.

Culture Shift Lagos – results!

After a 2-day masterclass by Paul Gudgin, 12 Nigerian festival organisers and managers came together with a group of 45 of Nigeria’s best developers, designers, and business brains to build new solutions to six problems that festivals face, at the ccHub in Lagos, Nigeria.

We’ d firstly like to thank all six teams, and their members, for their hard work over the weekend and their willingness to take a leap of faith – the talent in the room was astounding, and we’d be happy to have it back in London or anywhere else in the world.

Here’s what they built:

The winners: efest

efest tackled the problem of understanding festival attendees so that you can improve your relationships with them. They’re going to tackle this by building a data analysis tool to track social media conversations about attendees including plugging in to existing databases and systems

Runner-up: Ingenious / Runner Pro

The Ingenious team were looking at new ways for stage managers, techs, and festival organisers to communicate in loud venues where walkie-talkies didn’t work – and they came up with an ingenious solution called Runner Pro. Runner Pro builds a private wifi network on which android or other java-enabled devices can communicate via text without having to go through public networks.

Runner up: FestiveHub

FestiveHub is a social media and content manager and scheduler- targeted at festival promoters and event organisers. With it, Festival Managers can easily manage a range of social media and press contacts, track the conversations, and eventually plan and implement press campaigns, social media campaigns, and manage coupons and promotions.


FestiveHub wanted to get more 16-35 year olds – 25% of Nigeria’s population, and the overwhelming users of social media – to attend festivals. Their solution entailed using facebook games with real and virtual prizes which would be built in concert with festival managers & organisers.


AllFest built a simple platform for small, local festivals (attendance under 10,000 people) to easily build simple websites & an email marketing platform, with their sights set on adding social media and SMS campaigns, as well as helping the users to arrange transport and hotel accommodation.


EventSieve is a tool for festival managers to write effective press releases and broadcast them to an opt-in list of press, bloggers, tweeters, and promoters. Their vision is of a simple, effective way to write your press copy and for those who promote festivals to have an easy way to get the right content.

The judging

As you can imagine, the decisions were difficult – we had nine excellent members of our judging panel with deep knowledge of IT, press, the cultural sector, and what it takes to build and invest in businesses. There was heated discussion and we hope that all six teams will continue, because the progress they made in just 56 hours was incredible.

The prizes

The winners will receive a cash infusion from the British Council to help make their projects a reality, as well as intensive “pre-incubation” business and IT support from the Co-Creaton Hub.

Special thanks

To the British Council in London and Nigeria (thanks Fusi, Tolu, and Ojoma!) who made this possible, to the Co-Creation Hub in Lagos for hosting, to our panel of judges, and to our expert help from the UK.

Thanks especially to Femi’ s wife- her patience while we took him away for their wedding anniversary and half of her birthday is legendary!

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