Digital Sufficiency

Let’s prototype systemic change.

Net zero is on everyone’s mind – but how do we achieve this goal together? We don’t know the final answer either. However, what we do know is a proven, methodically structured funding programme that demonstrably helps interdisciplinary teams to develop human-centred and collaborative technological solutions to complex societal problems: Welcome to Prototype Fund.

For the last years we have been supporting the development of civic and public interest tech projects. As of 2023 we are complementing our funding focus with a third topic: digital sufficiency. The definition of digital sufficiency we’ll be working with is based, among others, on this very publication: “Digital sufficiency: conceptual considerations for ICTs on a finite planet“. Four dimensions of digital sufficiency are mentioned in it, which, briefly summarised, cover the following areas:

  1. hardware sufficiency – fewer devices, therefore more durable, repairable and upgradeable;
  2. software sufficiency – energy-efficient and data-saving software;
  3. user sufficiency – the energy- and resource-efficient use of digital technologies and/or the use of digital technology to promote sufficiency practices;
  4. economic sufficiency – the use of energy- and resource-efficient digital technologies to increase labour productivity, promote the circular economy, etc.

From 2024 onwards, we will support at least two projects per year that are explicitly dedicated to fostering digital sufficiency. Together with you, we want to find out and define where and how the concept can and must be promoted in order to contribute to a more sustainable social development.

Why digital sufficiency and prototypes go hand in hand.

Technological tools have the potential to promote resource and energy efficiency as well as the circular economy and thereby contribute to a CO2-neutral world. However, when viewed holistically and over the long term, rebound and induction effects can mean that the environmental impacts of digitalisation and technological innovation are not reduced or even increased.

It is therefore crucial to counteract these potentially negative effects as early in the development process of new digital solutions as possible to ensure that technology successfully contributes to decarbonisation. With the Prototype Fund, we support projects in precisely this early development phase – which is why we will incorporate the idea of digital sufficiency into our funding programme.

In doing so, we are responding to our conviction that more systemic approaches are needed to tackle the global multi-crisis. We need to move away from the narrative of omnipotent tech geniuses, away from solutionism and towards more holistic, collaborative bottom-up solutions. Due to its special funding structure, the Prototype Fund has great potential to successfully support this transformation process. Together with you, we want to make use of this potential.

This is how we’ll foster digital sufficiency.

As always both software and hardware projects can be submitted to us. However, we explicitly encourage you to also apply with projects that promote digital sufficiency by other means. Even if code and soldering irons are only secondary to your project idea, you should still try to apply. We are willing to learn from your project ideas what sufficiency can mean in the digital context.

In addition to the two projects that explicitly address one of the four dimensions of digital sufficiency, we also continue to fund projects that are not primarily aimed at this field. However, we recommend that all applicants familiarise themselves with the topic during the application phase and check their concepts for untapped potential contributions to digital sufficiency. If you are unsure whether your idea fits our focus topic, you are welcome to contact us by email and ask us your questions – you can reach us at .

Further information on the focus topic “digital sufficiency” will be published here on our website at the beginning of the next application phase (fall 2024). If you don’t want to miss the start of the application phase, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on LinkedIn ans Mastodon.

If you want to find out more about our new focus topic right away, follow the links below (some articles are available in German only).

Reading list «Digital Sufficiency»:

Subtract | The untapped science of less
Klimaschutz durch digitale Technologien (UZH)
Digital Reset
Digitalisierung und Umwelt / Estermann BFH
Digital Sufficiency – Conceptual Considerations…
Jenseits der „Grünen Ökonomie“
Digitalization, Efficiency and the Rebound Effect
Don’t reduce your footprint!