USAID’s Balkan Media Assistance Program – Media Innovation Lab

Deadline: 28 September 2018
Open to: applicants from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia
Venue: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, October 29-31, 2018


Are you a journalist looking for some new solutions to the challenges you face in your day-to-day work?

Are you a web developer who enjoys playing with online gadgets to keep people aware and informed?

Are you passionate about finding ways to bridge media and technology?

As part of USAID’s BMAP, Internews in Bosnia and Herzegovina is releasing an open call for applications for participation in the first Media Innovation Lab, slated for October 29-31, 2018.

The purpose of the Lab is to spark cross-sectoral thinking and provide an opportunity for participants to form face-to-face connections with professionals they wouldn’t normally have an opportunity to meet and solve real problems in the regional media community.

The Innovation Lab  that will take place in Sarajevo will assemble creative, innovative people of varying skills to collaborate on developing online solutions to concrete problems or needs and will provide a creative, collaborative space where media professionals, designers, technologists, and others can come together to develop localized tools that will help tackle challenges facing digital media across the Balkan region. This year’s Innovation Lab main theme will be: Information Security and Secure Communications. Selected applicants will have the opportunity to develop prototypes of their ideas at the Media Innovation Lab, which will then be eligible for seed funding up to $5,000 USD for further development after the event into full-fledged tools that can be rolled out for use by media across the region.

All documents, materials, provided lectures will be in English, as well as working language of the Media Innovation Lab.


Eligible countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia
Teams of individuals, freelancers, and professionals who are passionate about media, such as journalists, editors, CSO representatives, IT developers, and designers are encouraged  to come up with innovative ideas. Teams are encouraged to approach media outlets or media organizations for joint applications, and to include young and creative professionals as part of their team.
– Applicants should apply in teams of no more than five people. It doesn’t matter if you have worked together before or you have just met, the programe encourages groups to reflect a diverse set of skills and interests (ex. media professionals, designers, technologists).
– Looking for teams that bridge nationalities, specialties, and sectors: USAID’s BMAP actively encourages partnerships across borders of all kinds.
– Also think about potential partnership with non-media people non-traditional actors (e.g., private business entities, NGOs, social influencers, digital rights activists). Is there someone who would bring added value to your team? Who would that be?
– Teams need to be gender balanced (at least 50% women).

The formal applicant (Team Leader) should be a media outlet or a CSO registered in BiH, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo, but individual team members don’t have to be employed for those organizations. Be as diverse as you would like!
If you are a team of freelancers and don’t have an organization to back up your proposal, apply anyway and note this in your application. If your idea is highly evaluated, their team will try to match you with a suitable lead organization.

What should a project proposal look like?
Project ideas should use innovative digital technologies and applications to find exciting ways to tackle challenges dealing with the Lab theme: Information Security and Secure Communications. Your ideas can use different formats, for example:

  • Mobile apps
  • Webinars or short, interactive educational formats for mobile and web use
  • Social media campaigns
  • Small-scale creative face-to-face or e-learning trainings/workshops
  • Training solutions for fast paced environment

Projects can take on issues such as, but not limited to:

  • Journalist safety (particularly for female journalists)
  • Secure communication with sources
  • Data protection
  • Information security based on blockchain technology
  • Combating copyright infringement and combating fake news with innovative tech solutions
  • News archives monetization

However, these are only some examples – be creative! When you are thinking about your project idea, keep your potential audience in mind, and also remember that it will need to be done quickly (ideally within 3-6 months) and within the $5,000 USD limit. All proposed pilot concepts, ideas and final products should be designed for free and open use.


Participants will present their projects to a jury for a chance to receive seed funding of up to $5,000 USD to further develop their prototypes after the event into full-fledged tools that can be rolled out for use by media across the region. Three projects will receive seed funding.

How to apply?

The selection process:
The Lead applicant should submit the completed Application Form (Application Form) by the deadline listed above. A selection committee will evaluate all received applications and select the top five applicants to participate in the Media Innovation Lab. Project ideas will be evaluated on:
-Clarity of vision;
-Applicability to the theme of the event;
-Feasibility of implementation within the available budget and a reasonable time frame;
-Diversity of partners involved;
-Cross-sectoral approach;
-Potential for impact; and
– Usefulness for a broad range of media outlets across the region.
The selection committee will also take into account applicants’ professional history, quality of past work, and motivation to actively follow up with cross-border connections following the event.
All questions and applications should be submitted to: [email protected]

For more information please visit the official website.