Digital News Initiative Innovation Fund: Call for fourth round applications

Since its introduction, the Digital News Initiative Innovation Fund, our €150 million commitment to supporting innovation in the European news industry, has offered €73.5 million to 359 ambitious projects in digital journalism, across 29 countries. The fund is designed to provide no-strings-attached awards to those in the news industry looking for some room—and budget—to experiment. As we’re only halfway through our commitment, we’re thrilled to open the DNI Innovation Fund for a fourth round of applications. This season’s application round will be open for the next four weeks, ending October 12 (23:59 CEST).

Focus on monetization for medium and large projects

Round 4 of the DNI Innovation Fund will be slightly different from previous rounds for Medium and Large track applicants. We’ve heard clearly that monetization one of the biggest challenges currently facing news publishers. Therefore, for this fourth round of funding, we’re requiring all Medium and Large projects to provide explicit plans for monetization, with clear indicators showing the potential of the project to create economic value added for the business. Prototype projects don’t have the monetization requirement and remain, as in previous rounds, all about innovation.

Here’s a quick reminder 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 absolutely 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 long-term sustainability of the news business.

Eligibility and Funding

The Fund is open to established publishers, online-only players, news startups, collaborative partnerships and individuals based in the EU and EFTA countries. There are three categories of funding available:

  • Prototype projects: open to organizations—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 percent of the total cost.

  • Medium projects: open to organizations that meet the eligibility criteria and require up to €300k of funding. We will accept funding requests up to 70 percent of the total cost of the project. Important: All medium applications need to include a clearly defined monetization component.

  • 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 percent of the total cost of the project. Funding is capped at €1 million. All large applications need to include a clearly defined monetization component.

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

How to apply

Visit the new Digital News Initiative website for full details, including eligibility criteria, frequently asked questions, terms and conditions, and application forms. Applications must be made in English and the submission deadline for the fourth round of funding is October 12, 2017. We’re also hosting a live online hangout on with the DNI Fund Team on Tuesday, Sep 26, at 3pm CEST, where we’ll share learnings from the first three rounds of applications and explain what has changed for Round 4. If you have any questions or would like to hear more, hand in your questions upfront on our site.

We’ll announce the next funding recipients by the end of this year. We look forward to receiving your applications!