Progressive Democracy Lab


We would like to thank you for the many innovative and inspiring submissions.  

We will be in touch with all applicants by 27 May.

This is the timetable for the Progressive Democracy Lab:

  • 28 April 2024: Application deadline
  • 27 May 2024: Notification of acceptance (1st round)
  • September 2024: Kick-off meeting and further selection (2nd round) in Berlin
  • November 2024–March 2025: Incubator phase (virtual and presence meetings)
  • May 2025: Award ceremony for the most promising project (presence in Germany)

Progressive Democracy Lab – the process

Participation in the Progressive Democracy Lab will involve on-site meetings in Berlin, as well as coaching and development phases in which you will receive digital support. We will cover your travel and accommodation costs.

We will start with selected teams and individuals who will have the opportunity to present and discuss their ideas in person in Berlin. Together with our experts, we will select five teams who, under professional guidance, can develop their ideas further during a six-month coaching phase. The results will be presented at a public event as part of the FES' anniversary celebrations in May 2025. Projects will be assessed by a jury, which will award 5000 euros in prize money for the most promising idea to enable its implementation after the participation in the Progressive Democracy Lab.

Progressive Democracy Lab – the mission

The Progressive Democracy Lab is a project within the framework of the FES' anniversary, »100 years of FES«. The aim is to turn young people's ideas into reality. Together with external experts, our innovation coaches will support you in the (further) development and realization of your ideas. We select ideas whose implementation will contribute to solving pressing social challenges in Germany, Europe, or other countries and regions of the world.

Our mission is to create a network of young people worldwide in order to facilitate mutual exchange and implement your ideas with the greatest possible added value.

Contact: Annika Arnold, Rebecca Demars and Robert Philipps l progressive-democracy-lab(at)


Progressive Democracy Lab, Incubator... what are they?

Progressive Democracy Lab refers to your involvement during the entire period, from your application in April 2024 to the awarding of the prize for the most promising idea in May 2025. We start with up to 20 selected ideas from teams and individuals, whom we shall invite to our kick-off event in Berlin in September 2024. The subsequent incubator includes coaching five selected teams or individuals to implement their ideas from November 2024 to March 2025.

What is the goal of the Progressive Democracy Lab?

Our aim is to strengthen democracies worldwide by promoting innovative ideas and contributing to solving pressing social challenges, whether in the form of a local neighbourhood project, a global digital idea, or anything in between.

Who can apply and what are the requirements?

If you are between 18 and 35 years of age and have an idea about how to strengthen democracy and enhance social justice, feel free to apply. There are no other specific requirements.

Can I submit ideas individually or only as part of a team?

You can submit your idea alone, in pairs, or as part of a larger team. Furthermore, there’s no upper limit, so you could also apply as part of an entire organization or school class. For practical reasons, however, the work phases of the Progressive Democracy Lab groups shall be limited to a maximum of five people.

Can I also submit an idea together with people from other countries?

Of course. That would be in line with our networking concept.

Should I apply in English or German?

Please submit your application in English as this will also be the working language of the Progressive Democracy Lab .

Which languages can be used?

You should be able to communicate and present your idea in English. The primary working language will be English, as we want to invite ideas from people worldwide. If some members of your team speak little English, but other members who speak it well, we are always open to creative solutions.

How can I submit my idea? What documents do I need to submit?

You must complete the application form and think about additional ways to present your project. We encourage you to send in e.g. short videos, more detailed written descriptions, a comic strip depicting the story behind the project, etc. - there are no limits to your creativity!

All you have to do is send us your application digitally, by email. Please make sure that the email attachment is no larger than 35 MB. If you would like to submit a larger file, please let us know when you send us the completed application form and we will help you with this.

When will I know whether my idea has been accepted?

We’ll let you know by May, 27th 2024 whether you have been shortlisted and thus will be invited to our kick-off event in Berlin in September 2024. The selection for the incubator will take place on-site, on the day of the event. The five most promising ideas will be further developed in the incubator from November 2024 to March 2025.

How much time do I need to plan for the incubator?

Work in the incubator is designed so it can be combined with your job, school, studies, training or family commitments. You can flexibly organise most of the work phases and adapt them to your needs.

How many ideas will be selected?

To begin with, we will shortlist up to 20 ideas, which will be presented at a marketplace of ideas in Berlin in September. Five of these preselected ideas will be selected for further development in the incubator.

Should we all attend the face-to-face meetings in Berlin?

We invite one to two persons for each idea to the first presence meeting in Berlin. So if you submit an idea as a team, one to two persons from your team will be invited to present the idea in Berlin. For subsequent meetings in the coaching phase (incubator), up to three people may attend.

What criteria will be used to evaluate the ideas?

What is important is that your project contributes to a democratic and progressive society and to social justice. The idea should be innovative and feasible.

What support will the Lab offer me?

We offer you support from professional coaches who are experts in innovation development, agile working and project management. We will also help you with expertise tailored to your project and establish a network with you – among yourselves and with FES partners – that you can draw on in your future work.

What happens to my idea after the Lab?

If you are awarded the prize for the most promising idea, you can use the 5000 euro prize money to develop your idea further and turn it into reality. But all the selected ideas will have potential, so even if you are not awarded the prize, it doesn’t mean your idea is no good. We aim to develop all ideas to the point at which they can conceivably be turned into reality. Regardless of who wins the prize money, you can continue to use the newly established network and the knowledge you gain through the incubator to take your idea further.

About the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) is the oldest political foundation in Germany, with a rich tradition dating back to 1925. Today, it remains loyal to the legacy of its namesake and campaigns for the core ideas and values of Social Democracy: freedom, justice and solidarity. It has close ties to free trade unions.

FES promotes the advancement of Social Democracy, in particular with:

  • political education work to strengthen civil society;
  • think tanks;
  • international cooperation with our international network of offices in more than 100 countries;
  • support for talented young people;
  • and by maintaining the collective memory of Social Democracy with archives, libraries, and more.

You can read more about the FES' mission here.

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