The GNI Innovation Challenge is a global program that empowers news organizations from around the world to demonstrate new thinking in digital journalism. The GNI Innovation Challenge in the Middle East, Turkey & Africa region focuses on innovation in any form. It follows the first two rounds which saw 43 projects selected from 18 countries. The projects will also produce learnings and thought leadership to share with the wider industry.
The application window opens on 22 February 2022 at 9am GMT, and closes on Tuesday, April 5 at 23:59 GMT. Only online applications in English or French will be considered. Applicants are asked to provide descriptions, budget information and a slidedeck via our online application form. They are also required to accept the Middle East, Turkey and Africa and GNI Innovation Challenge Application Terms and Conditions.
The Middle East, Turkey and Africa GNI Innovation Challenge is open to organizations of every size, including freelancers and sole traders, that aim to produce innovative, original journalism and whose projects focus on innovation towards creating a more sustainable and diverse news ecosystem.
Geographically, applicants must be based in the Middle East, Turkey & Africa region (eligible countries listed in Terms & Conditions).
News organizations must be incorporated in the Middle East, Turkey & Africa region. Unincorporated organizations must be registered in the region or, if unregistered, have their principal place of business there.
All ideas are welcome but we require all projects to have clear indicators showing the potential impact of the project from a user perspective and/or from a business perspective. Selected projects will also need to be delivered within one year.
We encourage innovative projects – focused on, but not limited to – the areas below:
- Ways to increase reader engagement and/or reader revenue
- Developing and diversifying business models
- New methods of distribution
- Combating misinformation
- Increasing trust in journalism
- Reaching new audiences
- Improving the efficiency of workflows
- Exploring new technologies
We encourage applicants to clearly underline the potential opportunities of the project by providing clear indicators (eg: audience metrics, subscriptions growth or financial expected impact etc…).
Projects will be evaluated against five main criteria:
- Innovation: Preferred projects will be innovative and transformative for the applicant and for the users.
- Impact on the news ecosystem: Preferred projects should demonstrate potential for significant positive impact for the wider industry. For example, collaborative approaches, open source projects or just ideas that inspire others and nurture innovative thinking for quality journalism are welcome.
- Feasibility: Preferred projects should demonstrate their potential through clear indicators and expected metrics. They should set out key risks and mitigation steps.
- Diversity: Preferred projects will be able to demonstrate their self-defined commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion whether that is within their audience, organization or content. Google is committed to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and works to support companies/projects which are in line with such values.
- Inspiration: Preferred projects will show willingness to share knowledge and to contribute to the improvement of the ecosystem overall. This could include activities such as attending events, penning blogposts or contributing to case studies. Selected recipients will be required to produce a public report with learnings from the project.
Projects that would NOT qualify for Innovation Challenge funding include:
- Projects relating to news coverage only or projects merely translating news content into other languages.
- Upgrades of legacy publishing systems.
- 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 newswire articles).
- Projects on training or education only.
- Projects which do not impact a news organization.
Google will fund up to $150,000 for selected projects. Out of the total project budget, Google will finance up to 70% while the remaining at least 30% must be provided by the applicant. The self-funded portion may include operational costs. Eligible expenses include personnel costs, engineering costs and the purchase or licensing of any equipment, tools, hardware, software and other assets or materials needed for the project. Marketing expenses should not exceed 20% of the total amount of Google funding requested. Editorial expenses are not part of the eligible costs and will not be covered. Funding may not be spent on general and overhead costs.