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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The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital 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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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