Digital News Initiative: €150m Innovation Fund now open

In April, we launched the Digital News Initiative, a partnership with eleven European news organisations to support high quality journalism through technology and innovation. The initiative is open to anyone involved in Europe’s digital news industry, large or small, established or newcomer, and since launch, more than 120 organisations have signed up to participate. Today, we’re excited to open up the DNI Innovation Fund for applications, and we hope that many more people will get involved.

The ambition and intent of the Fund is bold: to spark new thinking, which could come from anywhere in the news ecosystem, to give news organisations - of all sizes - the space to try some new things. We’ve set aside up to €150 million for that purpose, which we’ll make available in the form of no-strings-attached awards over the next three years.

There will be at least two application rounds per year. The first one starts today, and finishes on December 4th. The next one will begin in Spring 2016 and details will be announced via the Digital News Initiative website.

Here’s a quick rundown of how the Fund works.

We’re looking for projects that demonstrate new thinking in the practice of digital journalism; that support the development of new business models, or maybe even change the way users consume digital news. Projects can be highly experimental, but must have well-defined goals and have a significant digital component. There is no requirement to use any Google products. Successful projects will show innovation and have a positive impact on the production of original digital journalism and on the future sustainability of the news business.

The Fund is open to established publishers, online-only players, news start-ups, collaborative partnerships and individuals based in the EU and EFTA countries.

There are three categories of funding available:

  • Prototype projects: open to organisations - and to individuals - that meet the eligibility criteria, and require up to €50k of funding. These projects should be very early stage, with ideas yet to be designed and assumptions yet to be tested. We will fast-track such projects and will fund 100% of the total cost.
  • Medium projects: open to organisations that meet the eligibility criteria and require up to €300k of funding. We will accept funding requests up to 70% of the total cost of the project.
  • Large projects: open to organisations that meet the eligibility criteria and require more than €300k of funding. We will accept funding requests up to 70% of the total cost of the project. Funding is capped at €1 million.

Exceptions to the €1 million cap are possible for large projects that are collaborative (e.g., international, sector-wide, involving multiple organisations) or that significantly benefit the broad news ecosystem.

How to apply
Visit the Digital News Initiative website for full details, including eligibility criteria, terms and conditions, and application forms. Applications must be made in English and the submission deadline for the first round of funding is 4th December 2015.

We’ve consulted widely to ensure that the Fund has inclusive and transparent application and selection processes. Confidentiality is critical; applicants should not share business-sensitive or highly confidential information. Full details can be found on the DNI website.

Initial selection of projects will be done by a Project team, composed of a mix of experienced industry figures and Google staff, who will review all applications for eligibility, innovation and impact. They’ll make recommendations on funding for Prototype and Medium projects to the Fund’s Council, which will have oversight of the Fund’s selection process. The Council will vote on Large projects.

Council members:
  • Joao Palmeiro, President of the Portuguese publishers association and Chair of the DNI Innovation Fund Council
  • Alexander Asseily, Founder & CEO of State, Founder of Jawbone
  • Arianna Ciccone, Co-Founder and Director of the Perugia International Journalism Festival
  • Bartosz Hojka, CEO of Agora S.A.
  • Katharina Borchert, CEO Spiegel Online
  • Veit Dengler, CEO, Neue Zürcher Zeitung
  • Rosalia Lloret, Head of Institutional Relations, Online Publishers’ Association Europe
  • Bruno Patino, Dean of Sciences-Po Journalism School
  • Murdoch MacLennan, CEO of the Telegraph Media Group
  • Madhav Chinnappa, Head of Strategic Relations, News and Publishers, Google
  • Torsten Schuppe, Director of Marketing EMEA, Google
  • Ronan Harris, Vice President, Google

We will make our first awards early in 2016. We look forward to receiving your applications!