Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur? Do you have a groundbreaking idea that could change the way that web journalism works? Does this idea foster community in a specific region, or is it be limited to one locale? Are a lack of funding and support the only things that are preventing your goals from reaching fruition?
If the above paragraph feels like it applies to you, check out the Knight News Challenge. The Knight Foundation is looking for cutting edge ideas from anyone, anywhere in the world, and their motto is “you invent it, we fund it!”. With $5 million dollars earmarked for this year’s winners (individual entrants can get up to $500,000 each), it is music to entrepreneurial ears. And if you have an idea that can inform, inspire, and engage a group of people, the Knight Foundation wants to hear from you. One caveat – stick to one geographic region (you can always scale up later). Although the web is indeed making the world smaller, the news challenge is focused on helping people who already live in the same community interact with each other.
At the most basic level, the goal of the Knight News Challenge is to bring people together in the real world through the use of digital technology (computers, cell phones, PDAs, and all those myriad other gadgets that we have). By holding this contest (it’s a yearly thing, this year there is $5 million earmarked for the winning entries), they hope to give people with big, innovative ideas enough funding and support to make those ideas a reality.
Unlike many contests and grants that are restricted to U.S. citizens, this contest is open to anyone, anywhere in the world – all you need is an amazing idea and an internet connection to send a proposal in with – there is even an under twenty-five category for all you wunderkinds out there; if you’re under eighteen, the award will be designated to an intermediary, but you can still enter (by the way, wouldn’t a winning entry look great on a college application?)
So what kinds of projects qualify?
It should go without saying that it needs to be groundbreaking and use digital technology, and your idea also needs to involve giving people access to breaking news or vital information in a timely manner. It also needs to be local in the sense that helps foster community in a specific geographic area – so while you may have an idea that could scale nationally, but concentrate on your immediate surroundings for the moment. The focus is on open-source creations that might not have enough profit potential for the venture capitalists, but are still exciting and can make a significant positive social impact.
Does all this sound like you or someone you know? Go to www.newschallenge.org and apply. You have nothing to lose by taking a shot- they even ask that you submit a short description of your idea before you compose a long proposal, so there’s not even a risk of sinking tons of time into something that might not pay off.
Best of luck to anyone who enters!