03.09.2019. / 14:20
2nd Innovation Lab
2nd Innovation Lab

Are you a young professional or a team looking for some innovative approaches to the challenges you face in your day-to-day work?

Are you a web developer who enjoys playing with online gadgetsto keep people aware and informed?

Are you passionate about finding ways to bridge media and technology?

USAID's BMAP, implemented by Internews, is releasing an open call for applications for participation in the second Media Innovation Lab, slated to take place on October 31 – November 3, 2019 in Skopje, North Macedonia. The Media Innovation Lab is an annual event that offers a creative, collaborative space where media professionals, designers, technologists, and others can come together to develop localized tools and projects that will help tackle challenges facing digital media across the Balkan region. This year’s Innovation Lab theme will be: Innovation in Digital Content Formats.

The Lab will strive to spark cross-sectoral thinking and provide an opportunity for participants to form face-to-face connections with professionals they wouldn’t normally have an opportunity to meet. Lab participants will work together to design fresh ways to report, present, distribute, and share stories in the digital world.

During the four days of the Lab, five selected applicants will have the opportunity to work intensively on developing their ideas for innovative projects related to the Lab theme with the guidance of top-notch regional mentors. The Lab will include one day of master classes and workshops that will provide different perspectives, teach new skills, and inspire participants to tackle new challenges! On the last day, participants will present their projects to a jury for a chance to receive seed funding of up to $5,000 USD to further develop their prototypes and concepts after the event into full-fledged tools and formats that can be rolled out for use by media across the region. Three projects will receive seed funding. All documents, materials, and master classes will be in English, the working language of the Lab.

Who can apply?

We encourage teams of individuals, freelancers, and professionals who are passionate about media, such as journalists, editors, NGO representatives, IT developers, and designers to apply with innovative ideas. We strongly encourage partnerships with with private companies and other groups working outside the media sector for joint applications, and to include young and creative professionals as part of your team.

  • You can apply as an individual or as a part of a team of no more than five people. It doesn’t matter if you have worked together before or you have just met, but we encourage groups to reflect a diverse set of skills and interests (ex. media professionals, designers, technologists).
  • If you are an individual with an idea, we encourage you to apply! You don’t have to have everything sorted out – we can provide assistance and guidance in finding experts as potential team members
  • We are looking for individuals and teams that bridge nationalities, specialties, and sectors: USAID’s BMAP actively encourages partnerships across borders of all kinds.
  • Also think about potential partnerships with non-media people (e.g., private businesses, NGOs, social influencers, digital rights activists). Is there someone who would bring added value to your team? Who would that be? Let us know, or let us help you think of someone!
  • Groups applying to participate as a team need to be gender-balanced (at least 50% women).

The formal applicant should be an individual or a media outlet or a NGO registered in BiH, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Kosovo, but individual team members don’t have to be employees of these organizations and outlets. Be as diverse as you would like!

What should a project proposal look like?

Project ideas should use innovative digital technologies and applications to find exciting ways to tackle challenges dealing with the Lab theme: Innovation in Digital Content Formats. Your ideas can take different shapes and forms, for example:

  •     Mobile app that could be customized for use by various media/content creators
  •     Webinars or short, interactive educational formats for mobile and web use
    • Training solutions for fast paced environment
    •  Multimedia “how-to” guides or templates for mastering a complex aspect of digital content creation
  •     Getting and keeping the attention of overly busy digital audiences can get really hard, so we’re looking for ideas in:
    • Data journalism, using data for content marketing
    • Data analysis and visualization
    • Infographics
    • Telling difficult stories through creative arts
    • Combining storytelling forms and formats format in a way that can serve as inspiration to other media/content creators
  •     Podcasting and audio storytelling
  •     Reaching new audiences with unique formats (youth, diaspora, new internet users, etc.)

However, these are only some examples – be creative! When you are thinking about your project idea, keep your potential audience in mind, and also remember that it will need to be done quickly (ideally within 3-6 months) and within the $5,000 USD limit. (You can propose something that will require additional fundraising to complete, but will need to show that you will likely be able to raise those funds and.or that the project will become revenue-generating quickly.)

All proposed pilot concepts, ideas and final products should be designed for free and open use.
The selection process:

The applicant should submit the completed Application Form (Attachment 1) by September 27th. A selection committee will evaluate all received applications and select the top five applicants to participate in the Media Innovation Lab. Project ideas will be evaluated on:

  •     Clarity of vision;
  •     Applicability to the theme of the Lab;
  •     Feasibility of implementation within the available budget and a reasonable time frame;
  •     Diversity of partners involved;
  •     Cross-sectoral approach;
  •     Potential for impact; and
  •     Usefulness for a broad range of media outlets/content creators across the region.

The selection committee will also take into account applicants’ professional history, quality of past work, and motivation to actively follow up with cross-border connections following the event

All questions and applications should be submitted to: Balkans-BMAP-Grants@INTERNEWS.ORG

The USAID’s “Balkan Media Assistance Program (BMAP)” aims to make media in the Western Balkans more competitive in the local and regional marketplaces and strengthen the sustainability of the independent media sector across the region, particularly in the digital space. USAID’s BMAP is implemented by Internews in Bosnia and Herzegovina in partnership with FHI360.

Attachment 1: Media Innovation Lab Application Form

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