Martin Hollinetz

Ashoka Fellow
Salzburg, Austria
Fellow Since 2012


This profile was prepared when Martin Hollinetz was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
Martin is building an empowered and vitalized citizen base to create a new quality of life for rural Austrians. He is the founder of OTELO, a network of open technology laboratories, spaces designed for and by people of all ages to experiment, collaborate, communicate, and exchange with community members about topics they want to take action on or simply learn more about. OTELO fosters creativity, principles of sharing, and action based on shared passion in rural parts of Austria previously isolated and devoid of creative spirit. OTELO encourages people to build ideas together in a wide-range of fields including creative economy, media, education, agriculture, robotics, and innovation in corporations.

The OTELO network is replacing the isolation of rural life with participation in regional development. Martin’s systems-changing innovation works at the personal level, group level, and regional level: first OTELO asks what people want and provides the structure to connect those previously not connected (i.e. companies, citizens and politicians). OTELO enables ideas to come to life once a group of five individuals reach consensus together, test their idea, and open it up to the public. OTELO taps into the natural human instinct to share passions, creating the structure to find out what these passions are through self-discovery.

OTELO has become a model for how to promote community, creativity, and collective action among citizens in rural areas, and it is using its success to challenge conventional notions about the role of the rural citizens in regional development. Founded in 2010 OTELO has since opened seven locations throughout upper Austria, with plans to launch an additional 20 locations in the next three years. Since launching OTELO, Martin has received requests to expand to South Africa, India, and Germany. Two German OTELOs are currently in the startup stage. Martin is developing a franchise model to spread beyond German-speaking countries, as well as into urban areas.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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