The Walkley Media Innovation Program

Innovation program

Our new direction
What we’re looking for
What the incubator will cover
Coding scholarships

Contact us

Development manager: helen.johnstone [at]

Note: In early 2018 we’re reviewing the Walkley Innovation Program to make sure it’s the best it can be. We’ll announce any news about the next round of grants opening here and in our newsletter.

In 2017 more than 150 teams applied to take part in our Walkleys Media Incubator and to have a shot at funding and ongoing mentoring as funding winners. If you would like to be notified when the 2018 round opens, please sign up here.

Find out who won in 2017 and how they’re using their grant here.


Funding, training and mentoring

The Walkleys runs this program because our news industry urgently needs reinvigoration and new projects. Both the Walkleys and our lead partner Google are passionate about supporting exciting ideas and projects. 

The 2017 program was about empowering as many ideas as possible. At least $10,000 has been earmarked to go towards a project or tool to combat fake news.

The longlisted projects (110 of them!) took part in an online incubator that you can read about here and here. The judges then announced a shortlist of 28 projects, which took part in two-day bootcamps in Sydney and Melbourne. In July, we announced the five funding recipients at the Mid-Year Walkleys.

The winning applicants will receive:

  • Cash funding of up to $35,000 per project.
  • Mentoring from people with deep experience in startups, media and technology.
  • Ongoing support from the Walkleys and our network.
  • The opportunity to run a crowdfunding campaign promoted supported by the Walkleys.
  • Two of the teams will be given a Walkley coding scholarship for a team member.

The Fund is open to backing a broad range of ideas across the news, media and civic engagement industries. We’re fairly open-minded about what these projects could be. But we’d especially love to see ideas that empower journalism to fulfill its critical role in democracy of speaking truth to power, and supporting an engaged, connected and informed public.

Prior to the funding being awarded, all shortlisted projects:

  • Took part in a two-day training workshop in Sydney or Melbourne.

And all longlisted projects received:

  • Access to three online modules about lean startup methodology and strategic planning run by project partner BlueChilli. These will be customised for the journalism industry and cover both commercial and nonprofit plans.
  • Support from our exceptional mentors in the news, startup and technology industry.
  • Access to an online support community.

What we’re looking for

Sign up to be notified about the 2018 program here. As the program began, we published a detailed guide to this question but in brief, we are open to projects that are:

  • Not yet launched or were launched after January 2014.
  • Either not-for-profit or commercial in their structure and intent.
  • Technology plays or more classic projects.
  • While we are open to supporting great journalism tools and storytelling experiments, we are particularly interested in supporting the emergence of new journalism ventures and business models.
  • Individuals or teams in Australia, New Zealand or the Asia Pacific Region.

If you are not sure if your idea is a good fit or want more information or feedback, please reach out to innovation manager Rose Powell on rose.powell[at] FAQs can be found here.

Previous successful projects have included:

  • A secure and verifiable way for people in crisis zones to communicate with journalists.
  • A news bot for analysing data sets and drafting basic stories.
  • An online training and support portal for community radio.
  • A public health news site.
  • A podcast to source and showcase stories of innovation and progress.
  • A not-for-profit publisher that focuses on arts and culture writing with a locational element in storytelling.
  • A content-driven ethical fashion ecommerce site.

Our thanks to

This program could not happen without the generous investment of our lead partner Google, and the support of iSentia, the Copyright Agency Limited and Blue Chilli.

Our judges:

  • Jacqui Park: previous CEO of the Walkley Foundation and John S. Knight Fellow. Full bio.
  • Niki Scevak: cofounder and managing director of Blackbird Ventures and Startmate accelerator. Full bio.
  • James Kirby: cofounder and managing editor of Eureka Report, editor at The Australian. Full bio.
  • Ramin Marzbani: Technology, internet and financial services analyst and investor. Full bio.

Innovation Program partners

The Walkley innovation workshops and funding are part of our journalism innovation program. We’re always looking for new partners from the worlds of journalism, business and non-profits who can help transform journalism. Email our development manager, Helen Johnstone to get involved.

Our current partners:


iSentia_Horizontal logo for partner page