Have you got a question about the Future News Pilot Fund, and the types of ideas we are looking to support? Read our Frequently Asked Questions to find out more.
If you have any questions that aren’t answered here, please email us at [email protected] with any additional queries about the Future News Pilot Fund Innovation Sprint, or [email protected] about the Future News Pilot Fund Accelerator Programme.
We have created separate tracks of support for the Future News Pilot Fund, recognising the different needs for different organisations. For example, for-profit start-up technology companies are likely to need broader fundraising and business-building support than teams who are prototyping new solutions within more established organisations or non-profits.
The Future News Pilot Fund offers an Innovation Sprint and an Accelerator Programme:
No, you need to choose which track is best suited to your needs. Nesta or BGV may get in touch with you to discuss whether your application is better suited for a different track. Should that be the case, it will be at Nesta or BGV’s discretion with your agreement.
The Accelerator Programme will take place in London from mid-February until the end of June 2020. Programme events will likely run on Mondays and Fridays.
The Innovation Sprint will involve London-based and regional-based workshops and cohort events that are compulsory. Participants will be expected to progress their ideas and test them during the full course of the programme.
The Innovation Sprint will commence in February 2020 and finish at the end of June 2020.
The Accelerator Programme will commence in mid-February 2020 and finish at the end of June 2020. The Accelerator Programme time frame includes the Pre-Programme and the Core Accelerator Programme. The Pre-Programme offers industry-specific and sector-specific support during February and March and leads up to the Core Accelerator Programme from March to June.
The fund aims to support and test ideas and solutions to:
Funding of up to £100,000 is available to support ideas between February and June 2020. Funding cannot continue beyond this point.
Applicants must submit a budget that clearly justifies what any funding will be spent on, and when, during the course of the fund. Funding could be used for (but is not limited to) staff time, overheads for staff working directly on the idea, user engagement testing, modest travel to workshops and cohort events, costs relevant for solution deployment and measurement of the impact it makes. Please note capital expenditure is generally not permitted and can only be included under exceptional circumstances, subject to approval.
For the Innovation Sprint, we are asking for applicants to tell us the exact amount of grant funding they are requesting, between £20,000 and £50,000.
For the Accelerator Programme, applicants are asked to identify if they are applying for either:
For both the Innovation Sprint and the Accelerator Programme we expect to support more applications under £50,000 than those in the £50,000–£100,000 bracket.
The Innovation Sprint will aim to support approximately 8–12 applications.
The Accelerator Programme will aim to support 8 applications.
You can only apply through one track.
The Innovation Sprint and Accelerator Programme will commence in February 2020.
Both programme tracks end in June 2020.
Applications open on 4 November 2019 and close at 23:59 GMT on 8 December 2019.
Shortlisted applicants will be notified by 20 December 2019.
Interviews / development days will take place during the week of 6 January 2020 and applicants may be asked to further develop their proposals or submit supplemental information.
Final decisions will be made in mid January 2020.
The Innovation Sprint will involve:
The Accelerator Programme will involve:
Public interest journalism/news is:
Under-served communities face barriers to or deficits in accessing or receiving news, journalism or information that is relevant to their lives, which can threaten their ability to participate in their communities, and in democratic life more broadly. These communities can be based on geography, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, age, health status, among other parameters, and they can be physical or virtual.
The fund is open to eligible news organisations and other innovators working in England.
Any organisation that is not a news organisation, but has a promising and potentially transformative solution for public interest news, must show their commitment to public interest news in the application form and selection process.
If you are applying as a single organisation, you must be a UK registered charity or company.
If you are applying as a partnership, the lead partner must be a UK registered charity or company. Other partners may be based overseas.
Funding for this programme is restricted to activities that primarily benefit people and organisations in England because the Departmental funding available is restricted to England only. Equivalent funds for the rest of the UK are controlled by devolved administrations.
Yes. We welcome partnerships to apply for this fund.
You must nominate a lead partner to apply on your behalf, and be clear in your application form why you are applying as a partnership.
No, only UK registered companies or charities are able to apply for the fund.
There is no requirement to bring additional funding to apply. However, you are welcome to bring in additional funding from other sources to develop and test your solution.
Please identify in your application what funding will be matched, and what initiative costs will be met by the Future News Pilot Fund.
Nesta can only fund applications that meet our charitable objects and provide public benefit. Therefore, there must be a clear commitment to supporting the public interest news ecosystem linked to the funding application.
The funding received through the Future News Pilot Fund may contain state aid. State aid is generally unlawful unless certain exemptions apply. We, therefore, can only provide funding where we can determine that an exemption applies. We will ask you questions during the application process to help determine whether an exemption could apply. We expect that in most cases the de minimis exemption (Commission Regulation (EC) No 1407/2013) will apply. You can find information and guidance about state aid and exemptions at GOV.UK. Please be aware that Nesta cannot provide legal advice to you, including on state aid issues.
You must only apply through either the Innovation Sprint OR the Accelerator Programme. You cannot apply for both. Applications for both the Innovation Sprint and the Accelerator Programme must be submitted via our online application platform:
Applications close at 23:59 GMT on 8 December 2019.
You can submit as many as three proposals, but you will need to do so on separate application forms. You must only choose one track to apply through.
Solutions must be directed to public interest news in England, and have the potential to improve the financial sustainability or increase public engagement, particularly for under-served communities in the UK.
Applicants need to take into account the public good considerations that are part of the criteria for this fund. This means that we are unable to support any ideas that are exclusively for private benefit or profit maximisation (i.e. solely to make money). An example of a idea with no public benefit might be public interest news that is behind paywall.
We are also unable to support ideas that are likely to increase inequality or exclusion, or otherwise have a harmful or detrimental effect on individuals (such as through the unethical use of private data). This would include business models that rely on personal data being gathered and sold to third parties without explicit permission from individuals involved.
Any ideas / solutions supported through this fund need to have an impact on audiences who predominantly reside in England.
We are particularly interested in solutions that help address local and / or under-served communities in England and improve their engagement in public interest news.
Understanding the potential impact of your idea and how you will track it, will be part of the process.
We will work with successful applicants to identify how to best gather learnings about what works and what doesn’t, as well as measure impact within the time frame of the fund.
One of the conditions for funding will be that applicants put in place some time and resource to measure impact and share learnings and insights. We will support you in that.
Information included in your application will be accessible to key personnel at Nesta, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, advisory panel members and professional support providers. The privacy statement sets out who the information provided in your application will be shared with.
The Innovation Sprint and Accelerator Programme offer slightly different benefits, recognising the different needs of organisations best suited to either track. You can only apply to ONE of these tracks.
Funding within both tracks:
Both tracks offer grant funding of £20,000–£100,000, depending on the scope of the idea.
Wrap-around and business-building support within both tracks:
The Innovation Sprint will provide additional support which will include:
The Accelerator will provide:
Community events for both tracks:
This fund is aiming to build a community that works together on testing their ideas. Successful applicants will not only develop their own ideas but also form part of a wider community that supports each other and shares useful learnings. Between January and June 2020 the fund brings together successful applicants in both tracks at multiple points.
Note: we are unable to fund training or pure editorial / content production.
You will own any IP you developed using the grant.
However, as the grant comes from public funds and is being administered by a charity, Nesta, we have an obligation to ensure that the funds are used in a way that achieves public benefit and doesn't just benefit your organisation alone. Nesta shall be entitled to use any reports or materials you develop for research and evaluation purposes and to publicly share learnings. You may also be asked to grant rights to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to use IP or learnings derived from the grant for public-interest purposes.
Eligible applications will be assessed against the criteria below. The most promising applications will be shortlisted and invited to attend an interview or engagement day in London in the week commencing 6 January 2020.
This fund seeks to support innovative ideas that could reimagine engagement and increase the financial sustainability of public interest news.
For the purposes of this fund, we will consider:
We want to understand the potential impact of your idea and how you plan to achieve it.
For solutions that seek to transform and reimagine engagement in public interest news, we will be interested in how people will be engaged differently in news generation, production, verification or consumption, who you plan to engage differently, and what impact that could have on their lives, democracy or civic engagement.
For solutions that seek to improve the financial sustainability of public interest news, we will be interested to understand how the proposed idea could increase revenue and efficiency or reduce costs, without undermining the role independent journalism plays in democratic engagement.
We want to understand what skills, knowledge and experiences you and your team would bring to the programme. We believe that everybody has the potential to be an innovator and want to make sure we help you plug important skills gaps in the programme.
For the purpose of this fund, we will consider
Applications must include a budget and delivery plan that demonstrates the resources you have and your ability to deliver within the timescale of the fund (ends June 2020).
We want to understand how your proposed solution will and could financially sustain and grow after the funding period of this fund (ends June 2020).
For the purpose of this fund, we are particularly looking for ideas that:
All eligible applications will be reviewed by programme specialists and subject-matter specialists against the assessment criteria.
External selection advisers will provide Nesta with information and advice.
Nesta will make the final decision for the Innovation Sprint track and Nesta and Bethnal Green Ventures will jointly make the final decision on the Accelerator Programme applications.
Shortlisted applicants will be informed by 20 December 2019 and final grant offers will be made by mid-January 2020 for both tracks.
Due to the high number of applicants we may not be able to reply to all emails immediately. We will prioritise queries that are not otherwise answered in fund materials available on the website. We will update our FAQs page regularly throughout the call for applications.