Digital News
Innovation Challenge

A Canada-wide incubation program supporting leading digital news ideas and early-stage tech companies driving innovation for journalism and news organizations. Participants will have access to $100,000 in seed capital on completion of milestones for your startup.

Fueling Canada's top digital news ideas

Innovative technologies are transforming how people create, access and consume news. Entrepreneurs who understand this will play a key role in the future of journalism and the news industry.

The DMZ’s Sandbox and the Ryerson School of Journalism at FCAD are partnering with the Facebook Journalism Project to launch the Digital News Innovation Challenge, a program to support Canada's emerging news innovation startups.

What you get

Over the course of five fast-paced months, selected teams will work closely with dedicated, experienced industry experts and mentors in an embedded environment and will have access to:

Growth and digital experts

Hands-on coaching from high-calibre, senior mentors experienced in digital news and journalism innovation.


The chance to meet and network with influential investors, journalists, experts and researchers.


Exclusive bi-weekly workshops designed by Canada’s leading experts in digital news.


Dedicated workspace in the heart of downtown Toronto and access to exclusive resources (with the option of participating virtually).


Up to $100,000 in seed capital on completion of milestones and $50,000 in Facebook marketing budget.

Program experts

Asmaa Malik

Digital journalism educator and strategist

Corrine Sandler

Founder and marketing expert

Uzair Chutani

Expert in digital marketing, business development and customer success

Meet the startups


Ground News

An application that delivers accurate breaking news by utilizing social media, traditional news coverage and more.


The Gist

The GIST is a newsletter that provides women readers with sports-related news and features.


The Sprawl

A Calgary-focused digital publication that provides local news coverage for city residents.


Trebble FM

A platform that helps media organizations create, distribute and monetize interactive newscasts.

Ready to join Canada's digital news incubator?

Applications are now closed. Have a question?

Reach out

Disrupting journalism

We’re looking for ideas that work towards reaching new people, amplifying voices and bringing the full power of media to Canadians.

Selection criteria

We’re looking for founders and aspiring entrepreneurs with innovative digital news and storytelling ideas that can be turned into sustainable businesses. These entrepreneurs can be individuals with just an idea, or a team already in the process of building a new product*.

Applicants must:

*Preference will be given to individuals with journalism, digital media or tech experience.

For complete details, please read the program guidelines.

Program timeline

November 28, 2017: Program is announced

Program details are released.

January 25, 2018: Applications open

Eligible applicants can apply through the online application form here. The deadline to complete and submit your application is March 9, 2018 at 11:59 pm EST.

March 9, 2018: Applications close

The deadline to complete and submit your application is March 9, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

March 29, 2018: Finalists pitch selection committee; winning participants notified

Based on the quality of submissions, up to 10 finalists will be invited to pitch their product to a selection committee comprised of partner representatives, program advisors and program staff. The panel will select five winning applications to participate in the five-month program. Successful applicants will be notified by March 29, 2018.

April 23, 2018: Five-month incubator program starts

Startups will begin their five-month intensive journey and join the most vibrant entrepreneurial community in North America. The program will kickoff with a one-week orientation.

September 28, 2018: Demo day

At the end of program, five startups have the opportunity to participate in a demo day where they'll showcase their product or service.

Your homebase

Sandbox is the DMZ’s skill development space, which focuses on providing tailored support and mentorship to aspiring entrepreneurs and early-stage startups. The dedicated workspace will connect you to startup growth experts, investors, researchers, businesses, some of Canada’s most well-known journalists and Facebook’s executive community.

Founding partners

The DMZ at Ryerson University is the leading business incubator for technology startups in Canada. The top-ranked university incubator in North America and third in the world, it helps high-potential startups grow and scale their business by connecting them with customers, capital, coaches and a community of innovators. Since 2010, it has incubated over 300 startups that have raised $395 million in funding and have fostered more than 3 000 jobs.

One of the top-ranked journalism schools in Canada, the Ryerson School of Journalism at FCAD has been educating journalists and pushing the boundaries of journalism for nearly seven decades. With highly experienced and award-winning faculty, state-of-the-art facilities, and close connections to industry, the RSJ is at the forefront of knowledge creation, practical change and handson learning for the future of journalism in Canada.

The Facebook Journalism Project aims to establish stronger ties between Facebook and the news industry. They collaborate with news organizations to develop products, learning from journalists about ways Facebook can be a better partner, and working with publishers and educators on how Facebook can equip people with the knowledge they need to be informed readers in the digital age. Through the development of collaborative news products and training and tools for journalists, Facebook aims to bring journalism into the digital age.

Media and industry partners

To be announced.
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