Frequently Asked Questions about the Innovation Fund

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Who is eligible to apply to the DNI Innovation Fund?

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, whose projects focus on encouraging a more sustainable news ecosystem. 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.

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What’s changed for Round 4?

Round 4 of the DNI Innovation Fund will be slightly different to previous rounds for Medium and Large track applicants. We have heard clearly from the ecosystem that monetisation one of the biggest challenges currently facing news publishers. For R4 we want to incentivise creative ideas that tackle the monetisation challenge and therefore we've made monetisation as a mandatory theme for all Medium and Large projects.

This means an important change to the way the Medium and Large tracks will be assessed for Round 4. All ideas are welcome but we are requiring all Large/Medium projects to have a monetisation component and to provide explicit plans for monetisation with clear indicators showing the potential of the project to create economic value added for the business.

Please note that, while Large & Medium track applicants will require a detailed monetisation component, Prototype projects do not have this requirement and remain, as in previous rounds, all about innovation.

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What is a project?

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. They also need to be time-framed.

Across all tracks, projects can be experimental, but must be measurable with well-defined goals. The Medium and Large tracks require an additional monetisation component and to provide explicit plans for monetisation showing the potential of the project to create economic value added for the business. 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).


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What Projects are not eligible for funding?

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.

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

  • Projects in the Medium or Large tracks which do not have any monetisation component


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What are the selection criteria?

Projects will be evaluated against three 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.

Important: In this round all medium and large applications need to include a clearly defined monetisation component and plan. Make sure you also read the DNI Innovation Fund Terms and Conditions carefully.

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When can I apply?

There will be at least two application rounds per year. The next one will open on Wednesday, September 13 and close on Thursday October 12 23.59 CEST.  Further details will be announced via the Digital News Initiative website.


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How can I apply?

Only online applications 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 DNI Innovation Fund Application Terms and Conditions. In additional, Large and Medium track applications for Round 4 will need to provide clear monetisation plans.

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How best can I prepare my submission?

The application window lasts for one month. Take advantage of this time to document your application as thoroughly as possible and please download the list of questions for prototype applications or medium and large applications in advance. All eligible applications submitted by the deadline will be reviewed, so there’s no need to rush into filling in the online form.

Please take the time to consult and do research on opportunities and investment requirements, brainstorm with your team and prepare the draft responses. If you are applying to the Medium or Large tracks, your team will also need to provide explicit plans for monetisation with clear indicators showing the potential of the project to create economic value added for the business.

When you are ready, please go to the online form (you find the right form after you have selected the right project track here) and submit the application. If you need additional information, please contact us at dnifund@google.com.

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What information is required for my application?

In order to assess the projects, the Project Team will need information including:

  • 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 details  showing the potential of the project to create economic value added for the business.  (Large and Medium applications only)

  • (Optional) A slideshow of, ideally, 10 slides or fewer. (Large and Medium applications only)

As set out in the DNI Innovation Fund Terms & Conditions we require that applicants do not submit any Highly Confidential Information or Business Sensitive Information (as those terms are defined in the Application Terms and Conditions).

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What if I want to work in collaboration with others?

Collaborative applications with other industry players are very welcome. You can find more information on how to make a collaborative application in the DNI Innovation Fund Terms & Conditions.

https://digitalnewsinitiative.com/dni-fund/apply-for-funding/

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Where can I read a full copy of the terms and conditions?

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How does the selection process work?

Each year, there are two chances to apply to the Innovation Fund (make sure you sign up to the newsletter to get advance warning of the application windows).

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. Applicants may be asked to provide additional details about their project, including being invited to take part in video interviews and/or the submission of further supporting documents. The Project Team will approve Prototype and Medium funding applications, and make clear recommendations about the Large projects to the Fund’s Council. Please see the Rules of Governance.

Successful recipients are notified by email and contracts are drawn up shortly afterwards. For the duration of the projects, up to two years, the Project Team remains in close contact with recipients to monitor project milestones and administer funding tranches.

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Will every application be reviewed?

Yes, we will review all eligible applications received by the application deadline.

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How can I contact the DNI Project Team?

If you would like to contact the team please email dnifund@google.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. 

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How many applications can I submit per round?

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 3 projects per group or holding per application round. Organisation groups are therefore encouraged to focus their applications on top priority projects.

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What will you do with the information I submit?

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 and 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 Highly Confidential Information or Business Sensitive Information (as those terms are defined in the Application Terms and Conditions).

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Are there spending limitations?

Funding may not be spent on: General and overhead costs such as office rental, furniture and travel expenses; costs and expenses connected with registering, protecting, defending or monetising any intellectual property rights you may have (or that you may obtain through registration). This includes payments to any personnel engaged in such activities, or expenses or liabilities incurred before the date on which the parties enter into a Funding Agreement.

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Which expenses are eligible?

Eligible expenses include editorial costs (e.g. on staff or freelance employees), asset creation costs (such as licenses), engineering costs (e.g. 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.

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.

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What is Highly Confidential Information and Business Sensitive Information?

Business Sensitive Information is confidential information which, if disclosed, would provide your competitors with a competitive advantage over you.

Highly Confidential Information is confidential information that is highly sensitive and, if disclosed, would cause substantial harm to you.

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 or Highly Confidential.  However, if you are in any doubt about this then we recommend that you seek independent legal advice.

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If the project is not selected, can I learn more about why?

Unfortunately, due to the high volume of applications expected, the Project Team is unable to provide personalised feedback on each proposal at this time.

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When will I hear back about my application?

If your application is shortlisted, you will hear from us about two months after the closure of the application window with any follow up questions we have. Final decisions are 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 within one month of the Council meeting.