Uutisraivaaja Media Innovation Challenge
Uutisraivaaja is a media innovation challenge looking for pioneering journalistic projects, which use new technologies for supporting journalistic goals.
The latest application period ended in April 2023. We will only accept applications that have arrived by the deadline with the required attachments to the review.
Uutisraivaaja is a media innovation contest organized by the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation. The contest seeks timely and societally significant journalistic projects, which apply new technologies. Uutisraivaaja’s goal is to advance innovations in journalism.
In the Uutisraivaaja contest, new technologies refer to any new technology, which supports the goals of the journalistic project in the Uutisraivaaja application. A new technology could, for instance, be an application of AI, virtual or augmented reality in journalism, or the use of drone imagery or innovative visualizations and infographics in journalism. It is an advantage to the project, if the technology used in it can be used also in other journalistic projects. The idea must be implemented either in digital or printed form.
The Uutisraivaaja contest is open for everyone. Uutisraivaaja welcomes applications from teams that have at least two members, groups, associations, organizations and companies. Uutisraivaaja wishes to encourage both more and less experienced participants to apply.
The journalistic project can be a news story, feature article or represent any other genre chosen by the applicant. The project owners can sell and publish their projects in any media (e.g. newspaper, radio, television etc.).
You can apply by submitting a digital application. The application period for 2023 has closed.
The application period for Uutisraivaaja 2023 ended in April, and the decisions were publicized in May 2023. The funded projects have to be finalized and published by the end of May 2024.
The applicants will submit a budget with their application. The budget includes an itemized breakdown of the planned use of the funding. The maximum of allocated funding is 50,000 euros. Funding can be applied for project expenses, such as travel expenses, technology development and integration costs and grants for the authors. If funding is applied for grants, the authors need to work on the project full time during the grant period. For example, if you apply for a grant for three months, you will need to work on the project full time during those three months.
Background about the Uutisraivaaja contest
The Helsingin Sanomat Foundation has organized the contest seven times since 2010. You can learn more about the previous years’ winners and finalists here.
In 2023 the Uutisraivaaja contest did not have a finalist phase, i.e. the contest had only one phase in it. The jury will, however, coach the authors as needed.
In the FAQ section you can read more about the application and evaluation criteria.
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 projects for developing media, journalism, and/or the distribution of information at large. The winners of the challenge will implement their project with the Uutisraivaaja Award, which is in maximum 50,000 euros per a project. In 2023 the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation allocated 250,000 euros for the Uutisraivaaja contest.
You can participate in the Uutisraivaaja Media Innovation Challenge by submitting your proposal for a journalistic project in an online application form.
Uutisraivaaja was initially 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 journalism and in media at large.
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 projects submitted to the Uutisraivaaja Contest. The purpose of the contest is to find the best projects, and those projects will receive funding from the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation.
Sharing with the media innovation ecosystem
The winners will publish updates about their progress in the Uutisraivaaja blog. They will be sharing the lessons learned when developing their Uutisraivaaja projects. This practice is hoped to serve the media innovation ecosystem at large.
What is the procedure and schedule in Uutisraivaaja?
The application period for Uutisraivaaja 2023 has ended.
What does the term Uutisraivaaja period mean (see application form)?
Uutisraivaaja period (mentioned in the application form) means the working period funded with Uutisraivaaja money.
1.The journalistic project presented in the application should be timely and societally significant.
2.The project should be groundbreaking and improve media, journalism, or the distribution of information at large.
3.The technology used in the project should support the journalistic goals of the project.
4.The funded projects must be published on the internet so that they are accessible for readers free of charge.
Anyone can apply for the Uutisraivaaja Award: teams of minimum two people, groups, organizations and companies. If the applicant is a company, the company must have been established by the time of submitting the application. If the applicant is a team, at least one member must be at least 18 years old and at least one member must have an official place of domicile in Finland.
The application can be submitted either in Finnish or in English.
Who makes up the jury and the pre-review board for the contest?
The members of the contest jury 2023:
Pekka Ala-Pietilä, Chairman of the Board, Sanoma, Chairman of the jury
Tanja Aitamurto, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
Maija Itkonen, Managing Director, Co-founder, Onego Bio
Ulla Koski, President, the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation
Esa Mäkinen, Executive editor, Helsingin Sanomat
Johanna Vehkoo, Professor of Practice in Journalism, University of Tampere
David Cohn, Senior Director, Alpha Group (R&D) for Advance Local
Wendy Norris,Assistant Professor, Nazareth College, New York
Ville Sundberg, Founder, Kihapp
Turo Uskali, Assistant Professor, University of Jyväskylä
Tanja Aitamurto, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chair of the pre-review board
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 teams of a minimum of two people, organizations, and businesses. In a team, at least one member must be at least 18 years old and at least one member must have his/her official place of domicile (permanent residence) in Finland.
In the Uutisraivaaja contest we wish to encourage both new and experienced applicants.
You can participate in the contest with several different applications and/or teams.
I live abroad. Can I participate in the contest?
Yes, but remember that if the application is submitted by a group, at least one group member must have an official place of domicile in Finland.
I am not Finnish, and I do not speak Finnish. Can I participate in the contest?
Yes, you can. The application can be filled in in Finnish or in English.
Can a business really succeed in the contest?
Yes, absolutely, as long as the project proposal fulfills the contest criteria. The contest is open to everyone, unlike many other funding channels. If the applicant is a company, the company must have been established before applying to the Uutisraivaaja innovation challenge.
I work in a newspaper and wish to publish my journalistic project in this particular paper. Can I apply for the Uutisraivaaja money, carry out the project with the newspaper and publish the project in it?
Yes, you can. Notice, however, that your project must also be freely accessible online without the reader needing to pay for it, i.e. the projects cannot be published behind a paywall.
My project doesn’t require a lot of funding, and it won’t take 50,000 euros to implement it. Can I still apply?
Absolutely. The winners of the contest will receive in maximum 50,000 euros, so you can apply for a smaller amount of funding and succeed.
I know nothing about technology. Can I still apply?
Absolutely, it is your project proposal 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 relevant 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 and fill in the application form.
What makes a good application?
The journalistic project presented in the application is timely and societally significant. The project is groundbreaking and improves media, journalism, or the distribution of information at large. The technology used in the project supports the journalistic goals of the project.
Your application should be clear, succinct, and informative, and it should show your knowledge about the area of your project. The project plan should be realistic and show that the project can be implemented quickly.
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 project. 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 project as precisely as possible. We want to know how the money will be used.
About the funding
How much money will the winners receive?
In 2023 the maximum amount was 50,000 euros. The final amount will be determined by the application’s realistically demonstrated total costs.
If none of the projects submitted 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 (e.g. technology expenses, travel costs) as well as your personal grant (salary).
Explain in your application how you intend to use the funding.
What happens if I win the Uutisraivaaja Award, but because of an illness or another reason, 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. If the work does not proceed according to the contract, the Foundation has the right to reclaim part of the funding.
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 their 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. But if you apply funding for your own work commitment (personal grant), you have to work full time on the project for that period of time.
Who owns the projects and innovations funded by the Uutisraivaaja Contest?
The inventor of the idea, i.e. the project owner. The Helsingin Sanomat Foundation does not own the intellectual property rights to the projects; these rights belong solely to the originators.
Who will read my application?
Employees of the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation, the pre-review board and the jury. Everyone has the obligation to respect professional confidentiality, which prevents them from conveying the projects 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.