Established in 2018, MEDIA LOVES TECH fosters media start-ups in the Maghreb region. The best teams of 2021 took home grants of up to €10,000 to fund further development of their digital solutions to quality journalism.
This year, more than 50 teams from Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria proposed digital solutions for quality journalism as part of MEDIA LOVES TECH 2021. Eleven of them were selected to join a support program that ran from September to December.
During a hybrid award ceremony that took place in Tunis early this month, four teams were awarded with the winning team taking home a €10,000 grant for completing its project. The three other teams took home €4,000 and €3,000 grants. The ceremony took place in the presence of Peter Prügel, German Ambassador to Tunisia and can be watched here.
The top award went to FLEN, a search engine for financial data on companies and public corporations in Tunisia developed by Hibatollah Bousama and Makrem Dhifalli. The tool provides economic data that is extremely useful for journalistic analysis.
"We want to promote a theory of change, another approach to information. Rather than fighting against economic ills, we have chosen another angle, that of giving true information about companies," said Makrem Dhifalli, data analyst and head of the FLEN project.
After 4 years, MEDIA LOVES TECH continues to strengthen an ecosystem that aims to offer the best innovative media initiatives in the Maghreb region every chance of success. MEDIA LOVES TECH is an initiative of DW Akademie, the Deutsche Welle's center for international media development, journalism training and knowledge transfer in partnership with Al Khatt, a Tunisian NGO which works for press freedom and expression and aims to be a laboratory of ideas on the future of journalism in the internet age. The program is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
"We were amazed by the quality and maturity of this year's projects. We could also see a lot of interaction and networking with the projects of previous years. There is a growing community in this specialized niche between media and tech," said Paul Schütte, project officer at DW Akademie. "The jury had a very hard time choosing the winners."
For this year’s event, an interview phase during the pre-selection process was introduced that allowed for a better assessment of the relevance and maturity of the projects, as well as the composition and motivation of the teams.
MEDIA LOVES TECH’s 100% online program was designed by experts in media, entrepreneurship and business management who are all active in the Maghreb region. It included:
- an inspiration phase (topics: innovative journalism, key technologies for journalists, data science and machine learning, and UX/UI design for media)
- bootcamps on the following topics: user desirability, technical feasibility and business viability. In addition, a special session on the financial and legal aspects of business development
- one-to-one sessions with the experts
- dedicated mentors for each team during the support program
- pitching sessions
MEDIA LOVES TECH does not stop here. In the coming months, teams who participated in the early-stage incubation phase can apply to a follow-up, where they will receive continued support from DW Akademie and the partner organization Al Khatt to bring their startups to the market.
1st prize: FLEN (€10,000)
Jury member Chayma Mehdi, head of research and development at Al Khatt on the winners: "Thanks to the automation of tasks, FLEN makes it possible to quickly process economic data such as legal information, accounting results, the composition of works councils, identities of shareholders, etc. that would otherwise be tedious to search manually. The tool offers simple and very clear access to the information sought and is a solution that facilitates the task of journalists and meets a real demand in Tunisia."
2nd prize: Blue TN (€4,000)
Blue TN is an online media outlet specializing in environmental issues. It aims to promote Tunisian and international initiatives around the protection of biodiversity and to inform the public about possible solutions for sustainable and rational development such as a circular and blue economy, eco-tourism, eco-design and reasoned agriculture.
Jury member Vera Möller-Holtkamp, program director Tunisia, DW Akademie on Blue TN: "We are delighted to support this new, committed media for climate and environmental issues. Moreover, we see in Blue TN a potential to sensitize journalists to environmental reporting. It's a very important mobilizer in the region’s media landscape."
3rd prize: AST'Lab (€3,000)
AST'Lab is a studio lab for new media content. This solution is aimed at journalists and audiovisual professionals wishing to acquire new skills related to new technologies and innovative content.
Amel Saidane, founder of TunisianStartups and jury member, on AST'Lab: "The two founders have set themselves no limits in exploring new digital formats! Their "lab" will promote audiovisual content that is still not very visible and has the potential to become an important player in the ecosystem in Tunisia. AST’Lab is exactly in the niche of start-up, media and technological innovation."
Science journalism prize: Econo.Brief (€3,000)
A service for disseminating economic news via email and podcast. Econo.Brief selects short and quality information and delivers it at a fixed time every day.
Fritz Jung, Desk officer at the German embassy in Tunis on Econo.Brief: "Econo.Brief offers filtered economic news with viable, quality content, understandable by all in a short format. Econo.Brief's "Rendez-vous" will provide a clear focus on what is important in the field of economics – every day. If successful, it can improve the quality of journalistic coverage in this field. If it catches on, it can improve the quality of journalistic coverage in this area and provide a reliable basis for all those who make economic decisions in Tunisia."