Google’s Innovation Challenge funding ideas in news

Helping journalism thrive in the digital age


Google is launching the North American GNI Innovation Challenge, which will fund projects that propel new ideas into the news industry. The search engine giant is inviting proposals from North American news organizations for projects focused on generating revenue and/or boosting audience engagement for local news.

A panel of Googlers and other tech industry executives will review the submissions and fund selected projects up to $300,000 and finance up to 70 percent of the total project cost. Discretion on the total project cap may be considered depending on the scale and impact of a large collaborative application, according to Google.

Applications opened May 28. The deadline to submit is 15 July 2019. Google says the challenge is open to organizations of every size — digital natives, startups, NGOs, industry organizations, broadcasters, traditional news organizations, freelancers and sole proprietors — that aim to produce innovative, original and trustworthy journalism and whose projects focus on encouraging a more sustainable news ecosystem.
For more information on eligibility, sample projects and funding details, go to the how to apply page on the project. Google is holding a YouTube town hall on the challenge with a team members Q&A on 25 June 2019 at 10 a.m. Pacific.


To be eligible, an organization must be incorporated in or have its principal place of business be Canada (excluding Quebec), the United States or the United States Overseas Territories. Projects will be evaluated against four main criteria: impact on the news ecosystem, innovation, feasibility and willingness to share knowledge, open source code and/or contribute to the improvement of the ecosystem overall.

Among the types of projects that won’t qualify for Innovation Challenge funding according to Google are those relating to news coverage only or projects that just translate news content into other languages, upgrades of legacy publishing systems and projects that relate to simply collating or listing data (for example, the publication of job listings or stock exchange data or the re-publication of newswires articles) and projects on training or education only. Successful projects will need to be delivered within one year.

Projects elsewhere

The North America project follows a Google innovation challenge in Asia. The challenges are part of the Google News Initiative (GNI), a Google effort to work with the news industry to “help journalism thrive in the digital age.”

Challenges are on tap in Latin America, Europe and the Middle East and Africa.
The so-called duopoly of Google and Facebook have engaged with the news industry on a number of fronts. The two powerhouses have topped America’s digital ad marketplace in recent years. Amazon is gaining on them, with its U.S. ad business set to grow over 50% in 2019, according to research firm eMarketer.

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2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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