Destination Local: a new competition and new opportunities
Last week, we launched a new £2.5 million hyperlocal media competition with the Technology Strategy Board - Destination Local Demonstrators. The competition and aligned programme will focus on supporting projects that enable new concepts and forms of online news, information and content services to local communities.
Our earlier collaboration with the Technology Strategy Board (during the past 18 months) saw us fund more than 20 'feasibility' projects, which successfully delivered a range of individual hyperlocal media projects. Kentish Towner, MyWelshpool, igeolise and Addiply to name a few.
Nesta has also carried out significant research of the hyperlocal media sector in the UK, which to our knowledge, is the most comprehensive analysis that has been undertaken to date.
'Phase 2': A new approach
We are continuing to build on our partnership with the Technology Strategy Board by jointly developing and managing a follow-up programme. Unlike 'phase 1' of the programme, where a large number of projects were funded to test their feasibility (in terms of individual organisations' business models, success factors and challenges) 'phase 2' will see a different, innovative approach.
Firstly, we will be awarding funding to a smaller number of projects - between three and five. Funding for each project will be for substantially larger amounts - estimated project sizes ranging from £700,000 to £1.4 million - with up to 60% eligible project costs being publically funded. And each project will be collaborative and business-led - comprising at least two different organisations.
Secondly, each of the successful projects will not only need to operate at sufficient scale and be "tested in the field" to provide evidence for their social value, but also their commercial potential.
Projects will demonstrate the potential for new technologies, platforms and standards that can deliver new, valuable and sustainable forms of hyperlocal media services. They will foster authentic and economically profitable collaborations between new, emerging players and large, established organisations in media and other relevant sectors. Furthermore, projects will provide a public evidence base, which will stimulate further UK-wide activity and investment in the sector.
This new, innovative approach to awarding funding has emerged as key opportunities from our learnings of the initial feasibility projects, and from our wider work and analysis in phase 1.
Opportunities to collaborate
We're encouraging a diverse mix of organisations to apply to the Destination Local Demonstrators competition. This includes businesses (SMEs or large ((EU definition)) technology developers, content and rights holders, geographical public bodies, local authorities, media organisations, academic organisations and social enterprises.
Applications for expressions of interest can come from pre-formed partnerships or from individual organisations. Likewise, we welcome applications from organisations that participated in 2012's Destination Local programme.
This healthy mix of SMEs and larger established organisations will be encouraged to form collaborative technology-, content- and community-focused consortia. These business-led collaborations will then submit demonstrator projects that will be "tested in the field" to provide evidence for the commercial and social potential of new hyperlocal services.
Here's a chart that may help to understand the breakdown of types of organisations and grant eligibility - click to see full chart
Here are top tips that may help to understand the different ways organisations can participate in the competition
At least 70% of total eligible project costs must be incurred by business:
- Therefore...the maximum level of participation / project costs shared by all research organisations in each project is 30%
- Each partner in the project is responsible for their own level of participation. I.e. if an SME's contribution is £20k of a £800K project, they only need to match 40% of their contribution - not 40% of the whole project cost
- The amount of funding awarded to projects will depend upon the number and type of partners in the consortia
- Projects must show evidence of effective collaboration:
- Typically this would mean that no one partner would be taking more than 70% of the eligible costs, and we would expect to see the structure and rationale of the collaboration described in the application
If a partner wishes to collaborate but does not wish to claim a grant:
- Their role and work should be in the application as for all other partners
- The partner name and total costs (contribution to the project) must be indicated
- Not be named in the offer letter if your project is successful
If a commercial business partner is not able to contribute / cashflow the required 40% or 50% (depending on size of the business) it might be that they don't have the commercial potential in the context of this competition:
- In which case, it's possible instead for an organisation to be a subcontractor / license their products & services to a partner in a consortium - as long as the partner paying them justifies the cost in their application
- Subcontractors / licensees would get paid 100% for their product or service, but that 100% is made up of both grant (the 60% or 50% depending on size of the contracting partner) and this partner's contribution (their match)
The date for registering and applying to the competition is fast approaching (11 and 18 December respectively) so it's a good time to start thinking about project ideas and speaking with potential partners. You can find networking and partnership opportunities and a dedicated Destination Local connect member group on the Technology Strategy Board website.
We're encouraging interested applicants to refer to the Competition Guidance for Applicants and to have a comprehensive read of all the other relevant documentation. Also, if you haven't had the chance to attend one of the briefing events, you can watch the live webinar, filmed at the London event, to get up to speed. The competitions helpline may also be a useful number to have on speed dial! Ph: 0300 321 435 Email: [email protected]