New Media Incubator

Get your idea off the ground

The New Media Incubator works with you to build a solid foundation for your media startup!

Incubator learning journey

The basics

The New Media Incubator invests in media entrepreneurs developing creative, new business models and products shaping the media market today and tomorrow. This includes startups and new media ventures designing, launching and growing into viable businesses by providing financial support, coaching, network access and training. It’s important to have a strong team with a minimum of two people.

Why apply?

The New Media Incubator is a six-month programme for Europe-based new media ventures and early-stage publishers building on existing ideas. The programme supports publishers with a minimum viable product planned to launch in the next six months and up to three years old. Publishers will work to to identify market gaps, gain deeper understanding of their audience’s information needs, to prototype a product and to continuously experiment, test and maintain their startup or a part of their business or content model. Successful applicants will have an elaborate and strategic approach to their business model, but need financial support and mentoring in implementing it.

General eligibility

Applying media should be a new media startup with existing market and audience research, a solid business case and the energy to grow. During the six months of the incubator, your team will receive support to further develop your business’ prototype. The activities carried out during the incubator will be in the service of experimenting, testing, identifying your communities information needs and building your venture in a way that is set up with a sustainable foundation. Objectives that you will achieve during the incubator include gaining a deeper understanding of your target audience’s information needs, prototyping your news product in an effort to increase subscribers, achieving reader revenue and more. 

Applicable news media startups may be building, but are not limited to, the following types of revenue and content products: 

  • Reader revenue 

  • Membership bundles

  • Gaining young readers

  • Vertical, social video 

  • Ad-supported digital news

  • Digital audio 

  • Newsletters

  • Print and/or digital subscription

  • Non-profit, donation 

  • Media technology

  • Community engagement

In your application, you will more clearly define your news media venture in terms of its market gap, audience and revenue potential.

To apply, you must establish the following: 

  • You are a new or soon to launch media startup and open to leveraging audience and innovation methods to grow. In practice, this means you should have an idea that is ready to launch in the next six months or a startup that is up to three years old and building or expanding news products or revenue streams.

  • Have identified a gap that needs serving, and have developed a business plan and financial forecast.

  • Demonstrate that the team has a validated business idea 

  • Your team demonstrate the right mix of skills to deliver your project, such as media management and editorial experience

  • Eager to facilitate news innovation and journalism collaborations 

  • Have a plan on how to identify and serve your audience, or be open to undertaking audience research and information needs assessment

  • Commitment to community journalism is a plus.

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.

Selection criteria

  • a clearly identified challenge or problem you want to solve

  • a team ready to address the problem or challenge you identify

  • a clear definition of your target audience and willingness to reach out to new audiences with quality content

  • recently conducted audience research or other market testing activities

  • well-articulated vision for growth

  • likelihood of survival after the six-month project.

To apply, you must have a team of two staff members who declare that will participate through the incubator’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 14 June 2023 [23:59] . Once the application is submitted, it can no longer be edited.

Only applications in English received via the Jotform platform (on the right) 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

  • Definition of your target audience and market gap

  • A list of financial resources you need to deliver your project

  • Definition of what success means for your project proposal.

Funding details

New Media Incubator 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 New Media Incubator can request grants between €5,000 and €15,000.

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

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

  • 40 percent upon completion of the project, which is fulfilled through the submission of a final narrative report and completion of agreed milestones (due by the end of month six of the project timetable).

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 incubator. 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.

Questions? Sign up for our information session here or contact us here: [email protected]

The New Media Incubator is part of the Media Innovation Europe (MIE) project, co-funded by the European Commission. The programme is run by the International Press Institute, the Thomson Foundation, the Media Development Foundation and BIRN and is intended to empower media outlets as they navigate the digital transition, giving them journalistic tools and skills in diverse products and business structures in order to reach audiences and bring sustainability.

IPI is grateful for the support of the European Commission, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation and ERSTE Foundation for making the Incubator possible.

2023 Applications Have Now Closed

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About the New Media Incubator

What is the New Media Incubator?

Run by IPI, the New Media Incubator is a six-month program for Europe-based new media ventures and early-stage publishers building on existing ideas. The programme supports publishers with a minimum viable product launched in their target community at least six-months prior. The incubator will support the founding team in the development of its business model and news products that results in a prototype or launch of their ongoing idea. Successful applicants will have an elaborate and strategic business model, but need financial support and mentoring in implementing it.

Which activities does the New Media Incubator include?

The New Media Incubator consists of five main activities:

  • An introductory meeting: Here, all selected participants of the incubator will exchange information in a video conference about their projects, set and share audience, newsroom and business goals, and meet the incubator trainers, coaches and other experts.
  • Two day in-person bootcamp: A meeting that gathers all incubator 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 incubator 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: Incubator 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 incubator, participants will be exposed to the latest innovations in journalism delivery and business diversification from experienced leaders in the industry. 

Additionally, incubator 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 incubator 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 incubator, explaining how these changes will better serve its audiences.

Who can apply for the New Media Incubator?

The New Media Incubator is open to new media start-up with innovation potential in the pan-European media space 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 incubator’s duration of six months.  

How long does the New Media Incubator last?

The New Media Incubator 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? 

10 newsrooms will be selected to participate in the incubator. 

The incubator grant provides up to €15,000. In addition, each team member (two per project) will receive a travel grant to attend the bootcamp.