Uutisraivaaja Media Innovation Challenge
Uutisraivaaja is a media innovation contest organized by the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation. The contest seeks ideas for developing media, journalism and the distribution of information at large.
You can participate by submitting your idea online. The idea must be implemented either in digital or printed form.
Schedule and award
Uutisraivaaja is a biennial contest that lasts each time about a year, starting in fall. We do not currently accept new applications.
After the application period, a small amount of proposals – typically five – are chosen to the finalist phase. The finalists receive seed funding and have about six months to develop their projects further.
The winner is given the Uutisraivaaja Award, in maximum 250,000 euros, for continuing developing and implementing the project.
Since 2010, seven winning teams have received the Uutisraivaaja Award. You can learn more about the previous winners and finalists here.
Criteria and applying
The idea should be groundbreaking, change media, journalism or improve the distribution of information at large. The idea must be first implemented in Finland, either nationwide or in a local community.
The competition is open to everyone. Individuals, groups, organizations and companies can apply. The application can be submitted either in Finnish or in English.
Frequently Asked Questions
About the contest
What is the Uutisraivaaja Media Innovation Challenge?
Uutisraivaaja is a media innovation challenge sponsored by the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation. The purpose is to find the best ideas for developing media, journalism, and/or the distribution of information at large. The winner or winners of the challenge will implement their idea with the Uutisraivaaja Award, which is in maximum 250,000 euros.
You can participate in the Uutisraivaaja Media Innovation Challenge by submitting your proposal for a media innovation in an online application form. The applications are now closed.
Uutisraivaaja was inspired by the Knight News Challenge, a media innovation contest sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in the United States.
Why has the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation established the Uutisraivaaja Challenge?
As a parallel development with the rapid transformation occurring in media, there is a constant need for innovations. Innovations often arise from exploration and experiment. By organizing the Uutisraivaaja Challenge the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation is hoping to promote innovation and development in media.
Can the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation use or implement the ideas thus received?
The Helsingin Sanomat Foundation will not submit to other parties, use, or carry out the ideas received through the Uutisraivaaja Contest. The purpose of the contest is to find the best ideas, and those ideas will receive development funds from the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation.
Sharing with the media innovation ecosystem
The finalists and the winner will publish updates about their progress in the Uutisraivaaja blog. S/he or they will be sharing the lessons learned when developing their Uutisraivaaja proposal. This practice is hoped to serve the media innovation ecosystem at large.
What is the procedure and schedule in Uutisraivaaja?
The contest has two phases. In the season 2018–2019, the deadline for the applications was January 31, 2019.
The best ideas are given feedback by the review board and the jury. The applicants may then have a chance to develop their idea further for a couple of weeks. The jury might also ask the most promising applicants to present their idea (pitch) face-to-face.
Based on the improved applications and presentations, the best ideas will be chosen as finalists for the second phase. The finalists will receive initial funding to develop their projects further. The finalist phase lasts about six months, during which the goal is to develop the project as far as possible.
What does the term Uutisraivaaja period mean?
Uutisraivaaja period (mentioned in the application form) means the working period funded with Uutisraivaaja money. For example, if your team wins the competition in the fall 2019, Uutisraivaaja period will start then. You team will have to define, how long the money will last for, for example the years 2019–2021.
The idea should be groundbreaking and improve media, journalism, or the distribution of information at large. The idea must be first implemented in Finland, either nationwide or in a local community.
The application can be submitted either in Finnish or in English. Anyone can apply for the Uutisraivaaja Award: individuals, groups, organizations and companies. If the applicant is a company, the company must have been established by the time of submitting the application.
The applicant, or if a group applies, one of its members, must be at least 18 years old. The applicant must have his/her official place of domicile in Finland. If the application is submitted by a group, at least one group member must have an official place of domicile in Finland.
What kinds of ideas are likely to succeed in the Uutisraivaaja Challenge?
You have a chance of winning, if your idea fulfils the core criteria of the contest.
The contest criteria are as follows:
- The idea must be groundbreaking and improve media, journalism or distribution of information at large.
- The project must be first implemented in Finland, either nationwide or in a local community.
With what kind of an idea can one participate in the contest?
The idea should improve media, journalism or distribution of information at large. For example, the idea can be a new way to publish, collect, or compile information. But your task is to develop the idea and the plan for carrying it out; we can help you in implementing your project by providing funding.
You can read more about the previous winning and finalist projects here.
Who can apply
Who can participate in the contest?
Anyone can participate in the contest, regardless of their professional background or training. The participants can be individuals as well as groups, organizations, and businesses. Participants must be at least 18 years old. If a group submits a project, one member of the group must be at least 18 years old.
The applicant must have his/her official place of domicile (permanent residence) in Finland. If the application is submitted by a group, at least one group member must have an official place of domicile in Finland.
You can participate in the contest with several different applications and/or teams. The application period for the season 2018–2019 closed on January 31, 2019. We do not currently accept new applications.
I live abroad. Can I participate in the contest?
The applicant must have his/her official place of domicile (permanent residence) in Finland. If the application is submitted by a group, at least one group member must have an official place of domicile in Finland. Also, please note that one of the criteria for the contest is that the winner must first carry out their idea in Finland, either nationwide or in a local community.
I am not Finnish, and I do not speak Finnish. Can I participate in the contest?
Yes, you can. The application can be filled out in Finnish or in English. Remember, however, that the applicant must have his/her official place of domicile (permanent residence) in Finland. If the application is submitted by a group, at least one group member must have an official place of domicile in Finland. Also, please note that the Uutisraivaaja winner/s must first carry out the idea in Finland, either nationwide or in a local community, according to the contest criteria.
Can a business really succeed in the contest?
Yes, absolutely, as long as the idea fulfills the contest criteria. The contest is open to everyone, unlike many other funding channels. If the applicant is a company, the company must be established before applying to the Uutisraivaaja innovation challenge.
Can I apply together with another person, organization or a company?
Yes, we encourage collaboration.
My idea doesn’t require a lot of funding, and it won’t take 250,000 euros to implement it. Can I still apply?
Absolutely! The winner of the contest will received in maximum 250,000 euros, so you can apply for a smaller amount of funding and succeed. The Uutisraivaaja Challenge can award several ideas.
I know nothing about technology. Can I still apply?
Absolutely, it is your idea that matters. However, you need to do research on the core technological aspects so that you can demonstrate in your application that you can implement your proposal. You can also try to find such team members who already have technological know-how.
I want to participate in the Uutisraivaaja Media Innovation Challenge. What do I need to do?
Read all the materials on this website, including the Frequently Asked Questions. Come up with an idea of a media innovation, do research for “the state of the art” review and develop a proposal of your idea. Plan how to realize the idea and explain it in your application.
The application form for the season 2018–2019 closed on January 31, 2019. Thank you for everyone who applied! We do not currently accept new applications.
What makes a good application?
The idea presented in the application should be groundbreaking, and it should improve media, journalism or distribution of information at large. Your application should be clear, succinct, and informative, and it should show your knowledge about the area of your idea. The business plan should be realistic.
Does the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation assist with planning the idea and in developing the business plan?
No, you must do these yourself. You are the expert on your idea. We encourage the applicants to extend their networks to different areas of expertise so that you will have access to technological know-how. That will help you to make a thorough and informed application.
As for the budget, it is advisable to justify the costs for your idea as precisely as possible. Explain the budget for the revenue and costs of your project. We want to know where the money will go and where it comes from and how you will make your operation sustainable once the Uutisraivaaja funding period has ended.
About the funding
How much money will the winner or winners receive?
The finalists, who have been chosen to the finalist period, will receive seed money for developing their project further. The amount awarded will be determined by the total cost in the application. The sum can be, for example, 5,000 to 10,000 euros. The final sum will be determined by the application’s realistically demonstrated total costs.
The winner will be given the Uutisraivaaja Award, in maximum 250,000 euros. The winner/s will be chosen from the finalist teams. If there are several outstanding finalists, then the funds will be divided among them. If none of the ideas produced in the Uutisraivaaja Media Innovation Challenge meets the criteria set by the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation, then no funding awards will be given.
What does the Uutisraivaaja funding cover?
The funding covers the costs of implementing the project, as well as the potential programming expenses, including production costs and marketing. Explain in your application how you intend to use the funding.
What happens if I win the Uutisraivaaja Award, but because of illness, I am unable to carry out my project?
The winners will sign a contract with the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation, whereby they pledge to carry out their idea proposal with the funding received. The funding will be paid in increments, and the winner will report to the Foundation on the progress of his or her project at certain intervals. If the work does not proceed according to the contract, the Foundation reserves the right to withhold further payments.
What can the funding be used for?
The funds have to be used in accordance with the plan presented in your application. The recipient of the funds is required to use the funding in order to carry out his or her plan.
If I win the Uutisraivaaja Award, must I leave my current job?
You do not have to leave your current job if you can carry out your project at the same time. However, the most ambitious projects probably require exceptional personal and time commitments.
Who makes up the jury and the preliminary council for the contest?
The members of the contest jury are as follows:
Pekka Ala-Pietilä, Chairman of the Board, Sanoma, Chairman of the jury
Tanja Aitamurto, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
Jyrki Ali-Yrkkö, Deputy CEO, Etlatieto (a subsidiary of the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy)
Maija Itkonen, Managing Director, Co-founder, Gold&Green Foods
Ulla Koski, President, the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation
Mikko Koskinen, Uutisraivaaja winner, founder of Kyrö Distillery Company
David Cohn, Senior Director, Alpha Group (R&D) for Advance Local
Maisa Lehtovuori, Product Manager, Aller Media
Juho Lindman, Assistant Professor, University of Gothenburg
Wendy Norris, CEO, Tekhne.co
Ville Sundberg, Founder, Kihapp
Johanna Vehkoo, Founder, Long Play
Tanja Aitamurto, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chair of the pre-review board
Who owns the innovations and the ideas funded by the Uutisraivaaja Contest?
The inventor of the idea. The Helsingin Sanomat Foundation does not own the intellectual property rights to the ideas; these rights belong solely to the originators.
Who will read my application?
Employees of the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation, the contest coordinator, the review board and the jury. Everyone has the obligation to respect professional confidentiality, which prevents them from conveying the ideas presented in the applications to other parties. Professional confidentiality is ensured with a written agreement.
Do the applicants get feedback for their applications?
Unfortunately, not all the applicants can be given feedback on the applications. However, the applicants that are chosen for the finalist round will get feedback. They will also have a few mentors to counsel and support their work as they develop their projects during final round.