May 22, 2017

JAMLAB – Accelerator Programme


JAMLAB is a six month hothouse accelerator programme that will provide teams of innovators who have drive and creative vision with the tools, facilities, contacts and support necessary to realise their ideas and ambitions.


The 2017 programme will run at Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct from July until December.

Up to six teams will receive

  • A six month Fellowship at Wits Journalism
  • Free workspace at the new Tshimologong Precinct co-working space
  • Mentorship and coaching from experienced media, startup and tech experts and entrepreneurs
  • Free places on a 3 month Creating the Media certificate course at Wits
  • Access to a software development team at Tshimologong
  • Opportunities to pitch to potential investors and funders


How do we apply?

  • Complete the short application form to capture your details and confirm your eligibility and ability to participate.
  • You will be asked to write a short pitch setting out your idea for a new journalism start-up or describing your existing venture and your ideas for growing and developing it further. Include in this pitch why and how your venture is innovating in the space.
  • You will also be asked to provide short resumes of your key team, including a line on each one’s role in the venture.

Deadline for Applications

  • 5pm (South African Time), Friday, 9th June, 2017.
  • A workshop for all applicants will be held before the closing date on 5th June 2017.
  • Shortlisted applicants will be invited to pitch on 19th June. The selected fellows will be notified of their selection by 21st June and will need to confirm their availability to participate in the programme by 26th June.


Who should apply?

  • Innovators with a great idea and the commitment to create and sustain a new journalism or media venture.
  • Innovators who lead an existing journalism or media venture that they want to grow and develop. We see an exciting new ‘alternative media’ developing in Johannesburg and in South Africa and are keen to support and help grow it.
  • Starting or growing a new venture is challenging work so we encourage people to apply as a team of at least two people who are able to commit all or a substantial majority of their time to their project. Larger teams are also welcomed.
  • The programme is based on a significant amount of face to face interaction so applicants must be able to be Johannesburg-based for the period of the Fellowship.

What counts as ‘journalism and media’?

Your idea or venture could be about making data or knowledge more useful and accessible, it could be about enabling debate and comment.  What we now think of as journalism and journalism media was formed a long time ago in the age of print. The journalism of the future will need to look different and work differently. We are not able to support initiatives focused solely on entertainment, but we want to be surprised by new ideas we haven’t seen or thought of before.

What counts as innovation?

We are looking for proposals capable of disrupting the existing media landscape or of reaching communities not being adequately served by existing journalism and media, or even of transforming how journalism and media is and has been practiced. So we are looking for new ideas that are capable of leading to change in the how, what and who of journalism and media today. Your innovation may rely on using new technologies or even on developing them but it doesn’t have to.

Do I need to be an entrepreneur to apply?

Your project can be for-profit or not-for-profit. Whether you are an entrepreneur who needs a market to sustain a journalism business or a social entrepreneur who envisages donations supporting their venture, you will need to develop a strong idea of how you are going to reach the people who will use your product or service, why they will want to use it, who will pay for it and who will invest in it. You will also need to committed to the highest standards of media ethics.

Can I apply if I am a full-time or part-time student?

Part-time students are welcome to apply.

Can I apply if I have already received funding from another organisation?

Yes you can.

Do you accept applications from outside South Africa?

Not at this stage. We are also a start-up and we just don’t have the capacity at this stage to support people coming from other countries. Based on our experience of this initial programme we hope to create opportunities for people from other African countries in the near future.

I have a great idea and the commitment to do this but I can’t support myself for six months while I work on developing it on the Fellowship. Can you help?

We have some limited funds for small bursaries so please apply. The application form has more details.

Who is organising the programme?

The JAMLAB accelerator is being run by Wits department of Journalism and Media with the Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering in partnership with Ryerson University, Toronto and Journalists for Human Rights. The Director is Indra de Lanerolle, a former BBC journalist, film and television producer and internet and media researcher at Wits. Advisors include Mthatha Tsedu, former editor of City Press and Sunday Times and now Deputy Chair of the Interim Board at SABC; Lisa MacLoed, Head of Digital at Times Media and formerly at the Financial Times, London. Khadija Patel Editor in Chief, Mail and Guardian.

 Where do I get more information?