The Digital News Initiative (DNI) Innovation Fund’s goal is to support and stimulate innovation in digital news journalism over the next three years. Over this period, Google will make available up to EUR 150m for projects that demonstrate new thinking in the practice of digital journalism.
What is the DNI Innovation Fund? expand_more_black
The DNI Innovation Fund is an initiative to help incentivise innovation and spark new thinking in news. We have set aside €150 million, over three years, to give news organisations of all sizes the space to try new things.
Who is eligible to apply to the DNI Innovation Fund? expand_more_black
The DNI Innovation Fund is open to for-profit organisations, non-profit organisations and individuals that aim to produce original journalism and to enlighten citizens with trustworthy journalistic content. Established publishers, online-only players, news startups, publisher consortia, national or international associations, companies and individuals are all eligible to apply. Incorporated organisations must be incorporated in the EU or EFTA. Unincorporated organisations must be registered in the EU or EFTA (or, if unregistered, have their principal place of business there). Individuals must be EU or EFTA residents.
Eligible countries are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia , Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
What do you mean when you say “project”? expand_more_black
We’re looking for specific ideas 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 experimental, but must be measurable with well-defined goals. We encourage you to underline clearly the opportunities of the project by providing clear key performance indicators (KPIs) especially regarding the creation of new revenue streams. KPIs should have a significant digital component (but 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 following are examples of projects that are not eligible for funding:
- Projects that are limited to the creation or publication of content without a specific innovative component (for example, projects relating to news coverage only or projects merely translating news content into other languages);
- Upgrades of legacy publishing systems;
- Projects that relate to simply collating or listing data (for example, the publication of job listings or stock exchange data, or the re-publication of newswires articles);
- Projects on training or education only.
How much funding can I apply for? expand_more_black
There are three categories of funding available:
- Prototype projects: open to organisations, to individuals, and to organisations comprised of one individual, 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 fund 100% of the total cost.
- Medium projects: open to organisations with preferably a minimum of one journalist in the team and that meet the other eligibility criteria requiring 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 with preferably a minimum of one journalist in the team and that meet the other eligibility criteria requiring 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 broader news ecosystem.
How long should a project last? expand_more_black
Medium & Large projects will receive a maximum of two years funding regardless of the overall length of time the project runs. A prototype should preferably be limited to one year. Please note that the effective date for the project will be the date that we sign the funding agreement and no expenses incurred before this date can be covered by the funding.
What if I want to work with others on a collaborative project? expand_more_black
Collaborative applications with other industry players are very welcome. You can find more information on how to make a collaborative application in the Application Terms and Conditions. We are very interested in hearing from organisations looking to collaborate, work together or provide a network of support. Please flag your interest on the application form if you’d like to discuss collaboration further.
What are the criteria for assessment? expand_more_black
Projects will be evaluated against the following main criteria:
- Impact on the news ecosystem: preferred projects will demonstrate potential for significant positive impact on the production of original journalism, the creation of new revenue streams or even change the way people consume digital news.
- Innovation / use of technology: preferred projects will use technology in innovative ways and be transformative for the applicant and for users.
- Feasibility: preferred projects will have a sound business plan, clearly outline key performance indicators or metrics, and set out key risks and how to mitigate them.
We’re looking closely at the consistency of projects. For example, the scope and the costs of a project should fit with the investment capacities of the organisation. The DNI Fund does not act as a venture capitalist, its role is to fund a specific project not the overall operations of an organisation.
Which expenses are eligible? expand_more_black
Eligible expenses include editorial and other personnel costs (for example, on staff or freelance employees), engineering costs and the purchase or licensing of any equipment, tools, hardware, software and other assets or materials needed for the project (e.g. for product development, project management, user experience design, database build and maintenance, and hosting) and marketing expenses. Please note marketing expenses will only be covered up to 20% of the total funding awarded.
Funding may not be spent on general and overhead costs such as office rental, furniture and travel expenses, among others.
Please note that the effective date for the project will be the date that we sign the funding agreement. No expenses incurred before this date can be covered by the funding.
How can I contact the project team? expand_more_black
If you have a question please email us at email@example.com. During the assessment process, applicants may be asked to provide additional details about their project, including through interviews and/or the submission of further supporting documents.
Where can I read a full copy of the Application Terms and Conditions? expand_more_black
You can find the Application Terms and Conditions here.
When can I apply? expand_more_black
The second round of applications for funding opened on 2 June 2016 and closed on 11 July 2016. For further details see the Application Terms and Conditions here and application form here. (FYI, the first round opened on 22 October 2015, and closed on 4 December 2015.) If you didn’t manage to submit an application in time, don’t worry - there will be more opportunities to put your project forward for funding next year. If you want to know more about the next rounds, please sign up here.
How can I apply? expand_more_black
Only applications written in English will be considered. You will be asked to provide descriptions, detailed project plans and budget information via our online application form as well as accept the the DNI Innovation Fund Application Terms and Conditions. See the application form here.
How can I best prepare for the application submission? expand_more_black
We are opening the application window for 6 weeks. Take advantage of this time to document your application as thoroughly as possible. Please don’t rush into filling in the online form and please download the list of questions for prototype applications or medium and large applications.
Please take the time to consult and to research opportunities and investment requirements, brainstorm with your team and prepare the draft responses. When you are ready, please go to the online form and submit the application, as it cannot be saved for later revision. If you need additional information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
How many applications can I submit per round? expand_more_black
Each applicant may only submit one application per round and we will not consider multiple applications in respect of the same project. For organisations that are part of a larger group or holding structure, we are unlikely to fund more than three projects per group or holding company per application round. Large organisations are therefore encouraged to focus their applications on top priority projects.
My application in round one was not successful, can I reapply with the same idea? expand_more_black
Yes, but we recommend you take a look at your initial application and test it against the eligibility criteria. Does the idea meet all the criteria? How could the application be improved to make the proposition clearer and more closely aligned to the DNI fund? If you apply with the same project, we will expect something more in-depth and consistent.
What information is required for my application? expand_more_black
In order to assess the projects, the Project Team will need information such as:
- company/individual information
- location, URL, number of employees, number of journalists
- project description
- project budget and amount of funding requested
- key indicators to measure the impact of the project
- monetisation plan fundamentals
For more details please download the application form for prototype projects or medium and large projects. As set out in the Application Terms and Conditions, we require that applicants do not submit to us any Business Sensitive Information (as that term is defined in the Application Terms and Conditions).
What will you do with the information I submit? expand_more_black
A limited number of people from the Project Team will have access to the responses that applicants provide. They will only use the responses to assess the projects. Members of the Council will be provided with an executive summary for each project, with no right to share any of the information they receive outside of the Council.
Please see the Application Terms & Conditions for further detail on how we will treat information that you provide to us. As set out in the Application Terms and Conditions, we require that applicants do not submit to us any Business Sensitive Information (as that term is defined below and in the Application Terms and Conditions).
What is Business Sensitive Information? expand_more_black
Business Sensitive Information is confidential information relating to you, any collaborator or any other third party that is highly sensitive such that disclosure to a competitor would cause substantial harm to you (or your collaborator or other third party). Please see the Application Terms and Conditions for further information on this.
As the owner of your project, you are the best judge on what information is Business Sensitive. However, if you are in any doubt about this then we recommend that you seek independent legal advice.
If the project is not selected, can I learn more about why? expand_more_black
Unfortunately, due to the high volume of applications expected, the Project Team is unable to provide personalised feedback on each proposal at this time. Please contact us by email if you would like a general discussion with a member of the team, although please note that we may not be able to give specific feedback and our ability to have a general discussion will depend on the volume of requests for this.
How does the selection process work? expand_more_black
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 shortlist and select Prototype and Medium applications for funding as well as shortlisting and making recommendations about the Large projects for Fund’s Council to make the final decision.
Find out who’s in the Project Team and the Council here.
You can find the Rules of Governance here.
Will every application be reviewed? expand_more_black
Yes, we will review all eligible applications received by the application deadline.
When will I hear back about my application? expand_more_black
If your application is shortlisted, you will hear from us about 2 months after the closure of the application window with any follow up questions we have. Final decision will be taken after the Council meeting. At that time we will contact you by email and arrange video meetings to discuss the funding process in greater detail. Unsuccessful applications will be notified latest one month after the Council meeting.