Knight News Challenge

The Knight News Challenge accelerates media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information. Winners receive a share of $5 million in funding and support from Knight’s network of influential peers and advisors to help advance their ideas. The first round of 2013, which opens in February, will invite innovators from all disciplines to focus on tools for open government. In 2012, three challenge rounds, each focused on an emerging trend, drew more than 2,500 entries.

Challenge 1 - on NETWORKS: Winners were announced June 18.

Challenge 2 - on DATA: Winners were announced Sept. 20.

Challenge 3 – on MOBILE: Winners were announced Jan. 17.

Anyone, anywhere can apply for the challenge - whether for-profit start-ups or non-profit ventures. For more information on a variety of topics - from guidelines for for-profits, on intellectual property licensing, open source software and more - visit our FAQ.

Wikipedia Mobile — Informing Millions of New Readers in Developing Countries

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1. What is your project? [1 sentence]

Wikipedia Mobile improves access to Wikipedia through two main approaches: 1) Wikipedia Zero, which allows hundreds of millions of mobile users, primarily in developing countries, to access Wikipedia without incurring data charges; and 2) developing new apps for a wide range of mobile phones, including delivering Wikipedia articles to simple feature-phones users via SMS/USSD.

2. How will your project use mobile tools and approaches? [2 sentences]

The majority of mobile users in developing countries use feature phones that are much less advanced than smart phones, so among our mobile tools and methods, we’re creating apps that permit these feature phones easier technical access to Wikipedia. We’ve also launched “Wikipedia Zero” partnerships with mobile operators to eliminate data charges for Wikipedia, which is allowing mobile users free access to our encyclopedia.

3. Who will use it and why? [1 sentence]

We are targeting the “Mobile Only Generation” in developing countries — people previously on the other side of the digital divide — who’ve historically lacked access to libraries and knowledge/news sources, but who now, because of growth of mobile phones, have the potential to read Wikipedia, with its 24 million articles in almost 300 languages.

4. Please list three ways they would learn about your project.

We form partnerships with mobile carriers that publicize Wikipedia Zero through their customer communications and advertising. In early 2012, we signed our first partnerships with Orange and Telenor that are delivering Wikipedia free of data charges to 205 million mobile users, most of whom live in countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. As an example, Orange recently launched an advertising campaign promoting Wikipedia Zero with street advertisements throughout North Africa.

5. What connections have you made, or will you make, with others [communities, organizations or networks] about your project? [2 sentences]

In addition to our carrier partnerships, we are working with the Praekelt Foundation to develop Wikipedia via SMS. Our mobile partnerships team is working to form more partnerships with several carriers largely in MENA, India and Brazil over the next six months.

6. What part of the project have you already built? [1-2 sentences, feel free to include links]

We upgraded our mobile portal in September of 2011 to accommodate the growing mobile traffic that we seek, and have since made a wide range of design and interface changes; introduced apps for both iOS and Android; made progress on the J2ME app that will accommodate feature phones from developing countries; and built the first Wikipedia Zero partnerships with mobile operators to bring mobile Wikipedia for free to important corners of the world. Soon, we will launch SMS and USSD functions that will give mobile users who lack Internet access an alternate way of getting articles.

7. What does success for your project look like? [1-2 sentences]

Success will happen when hundreds of millions of mobile users from developing countries gain new access to Wikipedia’s articles — in their language of choice — to deepen their understanding of the world.

8. What resources do you need to succeed? [1-2 sentences]

The Wikimedia Foundation has made a full-fledged commitment to our mobile project, and we have the staff in place to bring our mobile project to fruition — it’s financial support that we need to guarantee that Wikipedia Mobile reaches hundreds of millions mobile users in developing countries.

Additional details:
Please list who is on your team: 
Executive Director Sue Gardner; Erik Moller, Deputy Director and Vice President of Engineering and Product Develolpment; Tomasz Finc, Director Mobile and Special Projects; Kul Wadhwa, Director of Mobile and Business Development.

Expected number of months to complete project: 36 months.

Estimated Project Cost: $2,301,693.08 for our 2012-2013 fiscal year, @$6 million for the next three-year life of the project.  

Name: Wikimedia Foundation.


Email address:;

Organization [if applicable]:
Wikimedia Foundation.

City: San Francisco.

Country: United States.

How did you learn about the contest? Through the contest announcement.

People Who Liked This Post

  1. ruhnay reblogged this from newschallenge and added:
    Another awesome project from Wikimedia Foundation - the folks who bring you Wikipedia.
  2. Jonathan Curiel submitted this to newschallenge