“We’re not trying to fit a format into an existing business model” – Ingrid Kopp, Tribeca Film Institute, talks finance and what she’s looking to support.

At this year’s Pixel Market Finance Forum (8 Oct) we will hear from a collection of leading financiers, distributors and producers working across industry silos to support and create innovative new entertainment formats. To get you in the mood, we’re conducting a series of interviews with some of our panelists. First up, is Ingrid Kopp at the Tribeca Film Institute.

Words by Melanie Goodfellow.

Ingrid Kopp Director of Digital Initiatives at New York’s Tribeca Film Institute, where she oversees the TFI New Media Fund, returns as a panelist at this year’s Power to the Pixel: The Cross-Media Forum.

“We hand out grants of between $50,000 to $100,000 per project,” explains Kopp. “In the US, there’s very little support for interactive documentary work which is why we started the fund. Very often we’re the first money in.”The fund, founded in 2011 with the support of the Ford Foundation, spends a total of $400,000 across four to eight interactive social documentary projects each year.

Kopp stresses the fund is global and open to projects from across the world. “Anyone, anywhere in the world can apply as long as the project is non-fiction and dealing with contemporary social issues,” she says.

Submissions for 2015 opened at the beginning of September until November 5 with a second round in the spring.

Awardees in 2014 include Brett Gaylor’s online tracking exposé Do Not Track and Ram Devineni’s Priya’s Shakti looking at gender violence in India through an augmented reality comic book.

“Because we’re a fund we can support different shaped projects which vary in their scale and form. We’re not trying to fit a format into an existing business model,” comments Kopp.

Priya’s Shakti revolves around a comic strip while the 2013 project Use of Force experimented with virtual reality. We’ve also backed projects which were add-ons to feature documentaries,” she says. “Now we have projects people can look at they’re becoming braver in terms of what they’ll submit. I’d love to fund a game but haven’t found anything that’s right for us yet.”

In terms of measuring a project’s success, Kopp says audience engagement and innovation are the key markers for the fund.

“I spend time a lot of time thinking about business models and who pays for what bit of a project but commercial returns are not key for us as a fund,” she explains. “Beyond engagement, I also look at whether a project has done something innovative. 18 Days In Egypt, which was one of the first projects we supported, taught us a lot about how to deal with a crowd-sourced, open platform.”

A good example of an awardee with an interesting and innovative business plan, however, is Lance Weiler’s educational project Lyka’s Adventure, says Kopp.

The multi-part project, which TFI backed in 2012, features an eight-part book series published by Penguin Books, an educational app and an interactive toy which is due to hit UK stores in 2015.

Beyond the fund, Kopp also organises several events including the Tribeca Interactive conference during the Tribeca Film Festival and the increasingly popular Tribeca Hacks hackathons.

“The hackathons help us find projects and are also good for nurturing talent and introducing artists from across a number of disciplines to what it means to work in interactive,” she says.

Kopp is keen to roll out the Tribeca Hacks model internationally.

She launched the first international Tribeca Hacks at CERN in Switzerland last March. There was a similar event in Paris in June and the Dok Leipzig documentary festival will host the three-day meeting in October.

“We want to be really global and the hackathons are a good way to make sure we’re in spaces that sometimes get ignored,” says Kopp.

Beyond the Hackathons, Kopp will travel to Australia and New Zealand later this year for a series of talks and workshops and would also like to reach out to Africa and Asia in 2015.

She says the Power to the Pixel Conference (7 Oct) and Pixel Market Finance Forum (8 Oct) is also a key international networking event on her calendar.

“It brings together so many key people in the interactive field, especially from Europe. We need partners for funding, distribution and marketing. It’s a great place to sit down, with a company like Arte, and have those conversations and work out ways to work together,” she says. “We don’t really have a space like this is the US.”

You can catch Kopp at The Pixel Market Finance Forum (8 Oct) and at the networking drinks that follow by purchasing a ticket here.