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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