Transition Accelerator

We help you to take the next step

The Transition Accelerator supports digital innovation in established digital and legacy outlets by providing financial support, networks and coaching.

Application for 2023 Transition Accelerator is now closed.

Programme Timeline

The Transition Accelerator is a six-month programme for established digital or legacy media outlets that plan to leverage innovation in their business to become more resilient in the face of increasing challenges. For example, a newsroom could pivot to membership through deeper audience engagement or want to invest in new content and distribution products by identifying user needs. Your team will leverage design-thinking innovation consulting to identify market needs, discover new opportunities and build solutions to enable digital transformation.

Activities and project support

  • An introductory online meeting

  • Two day in-person bootcamp

  • Structured learning

  • Prototype a new product

  • 1:1 coaching

  • Guest speakers

  • Grants of up to €20,000 to implement project

General eligibility

Applicants must be based in one of the following countries: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Ukraine.

Newsrooms are welcome to apply if they have:

  • a clearly identified challenge or problem they want to solve;

  • a plan on how to address the problem or challenge they face;

  • recently conducted audience research or other market testing activities;

  • willingness and a plan to reach out to new audiences with quality content.

To apply, you must have a team of three staff members who declare that will participate through the accelerator’s duration of six months.

Application requirements

Each applicant team should designate a lead applicant from within the participating media outlet.

Applicants can save the application form by clicking “save” and return to it until they have completed it and are ready to submit. They will be emailed a link to their application which they can return to until 28 October 2022 [23:59] . Once the application is submitted, it can no longer be edited.

Only applications in English received via the Jotform platform by the stated date and time will be considered. You will receive an email confirmation of your submission.

Brevity in supplying the information requested will be appreciated.

Applicants must answer the following questions:

  • Information about your organization

  • Participating team members (at least two)

  • Your organization’s mission and values

  • Project title and elevator pitch

  • List of project activities

  • Definition of your target audience

  • A list of financial resources you expect to need (if selected, you will submit a more detailed budget later)

  • Definition of what success means for your project proposal

Selection criteria

  • Demonstrate a deep understanding of the problem they seek to solve.

  • Demonstrate a willingness to undertake audience research and find ways to serve new audiences.

  • A vision of what success would look like with metrics to measure against.

  • Commitment to quality independent journalism

  • Capacity to implement the project

  • Willingness to include diversity and gender equality

  • Openness to journalism collaborations

Funding details

The Transition Accelerator funds may cover any percentage of a project’s costs, up to 100 percent of the total. Co-funding is encouraged but not mandatory. Teams must declare any existing sources of funding on their application.

Applicants to the Transition Accelerator can request grants between €5,000 and €20,000.

Selected projects will sign a grant agreement with IPI to receive the funds. The disbursement of funds will be made in two instalments:

  • 60 percent of the grant amount upon signing of the grant agreement.

  • 40 percent upon completion of the project and acceptance of a final narrative report and completion of agreed milestones (due by the end of month six the grant timetable).

The Transition Accelerator grant may be used to cover nearly any costs necessary for the production of their proposed project. This includes, but is not limited to, programmatic and operational costs (e.g., travel costs to the annual Media Innovation Summit), salary and human resource costs for the participating team, research and data collection costs, and equipment essential to successful implementation of the project

Selection process and timeline

Applications will undergo an initial pre-screening to review basic application requirements and applicants may be asked during this phase to supply additional information. Applications that do not meet basic requirements will not be forwarded to the jury.

An independent jury will select the projects to participate in the accelerator. The jury will be made up of individuals with a deep understanding of innovation in independent newsrooms, particularly in Europe, including product directors, media managers, media founders and managing editors, originating from different countries across Europe.

Any attempt by any donor or partner organization to interfere in the decisions of the jury will be immediately reported to the rest of the jury. Jury members will be required to declare any possible conflicts of interest, and will be asked to recuse themselves on any judgment where such conflicts may interfere with independence or the public perception of independence. These recusals will be recorded.

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About the Transition Accelerator

What is the Transition Accelerator?

Run by IPI, the Transition Accelerator supports digital transition in established digital and legacy outlets by providing financial support (grant) and coaching. It will bring newsrooms along a media-first design and innovation journey, focusing on supporting newsrooms’ editorial, technology and business strategies. The project team will work closely with each newsroom to coach and provide the necessary resources to implement its transformational business or product strategy over a six-month period. The Transition Accelerator grant will provide funding and coaching for two types of projects:

  1. The development of a technological or audience-centric product or idea focusing on news gathering, crowd-sourcing revenues, and the creating or distribution of an outlet’s reporting with the goal of revenue diversification and growing audience reach. 
  2. Business plan for digital transformation in an existing newsroom or other organizational plans leveraging innovation for sustainability and increased competitiveness that ultimately grow the quality of Europe’s news ecosystem. 

Which activities does the Transition Accelerator include?

The Transition Accelerator consists of five main activities:

  • An introductory meeting: Here, all selected participants of the accelerator will exchange information in a video conference about their projects, set and share audience, newsroom and business goals, and meet the accelerator trainers, coaches and other experts.
  • Two day in-person bootcamp: A meeting that gathers all accelerator participants. Participants will undergo a needs assessment and hone their project proposals through strategy-sprints and feedback sessions from trainers. Towards the end of the bootcamp, each team will present their work plan and receive feedback from the rest of the cohort and media experts. The bootcamp will foster strong relationships between the accelerator participants.  
  • Structured learning phase: Bootcamps will be followed by a series of training sessions, comprised of pre-recorded online lectures by prominent media experts and subsequent “ask me anything” sessions with the trainers. The lectures will cover:
    • Audience research methods and practice
    • Product management
    • How to diversify your revenue streams: philanthropy, sponsorships, events, programmatic advertising, branded content, digital subscriptions, advertising to businesses, nonprofits and governments, and more
    • The latest in storytelling formats
    • Audience engagement – from surveys and comments to subscribers and CRM management 
    • Diversity and inclusion in product development 
    • Product hypothesis to design and prototype 
    • How to diversify revenue streams and what makes sense for you, from grants to events and native advertising
    • Business models and the northstar framework.
    • Reader revenue: how to successfully implement a membership, subscription and/or donation model.
  • 1:1 coaching: Accelerator participants will be offered 1:1 coaching sessions with experienced newsroom practitioners and trainers. Each participant will be paired with coaches that are able to provide the most value in terms of skills- and knowledge gaps identified in the needs-assessment. The participants are expected to attend coaching sessions biweekly.  
  • Guest speakers: Throughout the accelerator, participants will be exposed to the latest innovations in journalism delivery and business diversification from experienced leaders in the industry. 

Additionally, accelerator participants will be expected to produce and publish a promotional or descriptive post or story that describes what went right or wrong in their innovation journey. This can be in the form of an individual or series of stories, podcasts, videos, newsletters or other journalistic formats. The journalistic product can be related to the accelerator in one of two ways:

  • It highlights how the organization applied the learning on innovation in their newsroom;  
  • An editorial informing readers about the changes the organization went through in the accelerator, explaining how these changes will better serve its audiences.

Who can apply for the Transition Accelerator??

The Transition Accelerator is open to or small to mid-sized digital or legacy media outlets seeking to transform their journalism, products or business by investing in audience research, experimenting with new revenue models, deepening audience engagement, or investing in new content and distribution products based on user needs, among other strategies. Newsrooms are welcome to apply if they have:       

  • a clearly identified challenge or problem they want to solve; 
  • a plan on how to address the challenge or problem they face;
  • recently conducted audience research or other market testing activities;
  • willingness and a plan to reach out to new audiences with quality content. 

To apply, you must have a team of three staff members declared that will participate through the accelerator’s duration of six months.  

How long does the Transition Accelerator last?

The Transition Accelerator takes place for six months. Participants will have the opportunity to extend mentorship and will remain involved in the network. 

How many projects will be selected and how large is the grant? 

15 newsrooms will be selected to participate in the Transition Accelerator. 

The Transition Accelerator grant provides up to €20,000. In addition, each team member (three per project) will receive a travel grant to attend the bootcamp.