CFC Media Lab unveils ideaBOOST

The program will look to help small teams and businesses fund and develop their digital ideas, but applicants must first prove an audience exists.

The CFC Media Lab revealed Monday the full details of its latest industry training program, ideaBOOST.

ideaBOOST, which had been shrouded in secrecy since the CFC soft-launched it at Banff in June and made a wider announcement again in July, will address an area of the digital industry that Media Lab manager of operations and special projects Leonardo Dell’anno says has been largely ignored: funding for small-to-medium businesses who are looking to get their digital projects off the ground.

“A lot of people have ideas and a lot of the small to medium enterprises are looking for funding to develop their digital projects,” he tells Playback.

“Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of opportunity to get the skillsets they need to make the funding worth their while, and to get the projects out there,” he adds.

ideaBOOST replaces the Media Lab’s Telus Interactive Art and Entertainment Program and will offer the eight selected small teams and small- to-medium-sized businesses up to $15,000 towards prototype development.

During monthly meetings with entrepreneurial experts, including  4Sight Partners CEO Paul Woolner, CBC Dragons’ Den dragon and president of digital start-up incubator Round 13 Bruce Croxon, Telly board member Shawn Hardin, U.K.-based industry consultant and CFC board member Rupert Dilnott-Cooper, and others, the teams will also receive mentorship in developing business and audience engagement strategies, tools geared toward the digital industry, and opportunities to network.

The part-time program will look exclusively to develop digital projects, such as web series with transmedia components, or tools for web-based editing, and is open to both Canadian projects and Canadian co-productions

But according to Dell’anno, applicants will need to have a proven track record of being able to develop original properties.

“Ideas are a dime a dozen,” he says.

“Everyone has an idea for a web series and this and that. It’s been done a million times. It’s the way you execute it; it’s bringing something original to it and being able to bring it to a different level,” he adds.

Thus far, Phantom Compass’ Tony Walsh has submitted Rollers of the Realm, a pinball-based role-playing game, while Smokebomb’s Jay Bennett has pitched The Path a transmedia series about a girl who accidentally discovers a dangerous fantasy world, and Tony O’Donoghue and Shawn Micallef have offered up nomad, an e-reading app that connects books with the reader’s location.

Due to the changing relationship between creators and the consumers, however, applicants will also have to prove that a wide audience already exists for their property before they can even be considered for the program.

“The world used to be that you’d make a project, go out to the market and go find your audience. It doesn’t work like that anymore,” Dell’anno explains.

“The audience has control. And with Twitter and Facebook and so many other things, if [projects] don’t have a buy-in right away from a wide market, they don’t even get to that stage to even be considered to go into production,” he adds, noting that the ideas will be targeted not just at Canadians, but at the world market.

To get audiences involved, applicants will submit their ideas and supportive materials, such as text, images and videos, to the ideaBOOST website and ask the audience to get involved by liking, tweeting and ‘boosting’ the project.

Projects that receive votes by the time the portal closes Sept. 18 will be short-listed to go before a jury, which will also select up to three wildcard projects for the shortlist, to be announced Sept. 19.

On Nov. 5, the program kicks off, and will run until mid March.

For more information, visit the ideaBOOST website.