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Inland members: Google may have funding for your innovations

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Google News Initiatives is bringing its Innovation Challenge to North America, inviting news organizations to submit projects for funding.

A panel of Google 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.

The deadline to submit project proposals is July 15th, 2019 at midnight Pacific time. 

“The North America GNI Innovation 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 journalism and to enlighten citizens with trustworthy journalistic content, and whose projects focus on encouraging a more sustainable news ecosystem,” Google said in its announcement.

Google said all ideas are welcome, but that it is requiring all projects to have “indicators showing the impact of the project from a user perspective and/or for a business perspective (e.g. audience indicators, business plan when relevant, etc.).” It is also requiring projects to be delivered within one year.

Projects can be experimental but must be for sites that are already in operation at the time of application and must have measurable, well-defined goals, Google said.

“We encourage you to clearly underline the opportunities of the project by providing clear key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs should have a significant digital component,” the company added.

Here are the four main criteria which Google is using for its project evaluations:

  1. Impact on the news ecosystem: Projects should demonstrate potential for significant positive impact on the creation of new revenue streams and/or change the way people consume digital news.
  2. Innovation: Preferred projects will be innovative (use of technology, business model, new reader engagement approaches, etc.) and transformative for the applicant and for users.
  3. Feasibility: Project should demonstrate clear indicators and metrics or even a business plan, when relevant, and set out key risks and mitigation steps.
  4. Inspiration: How can the project help news organizations learn from each other? Willingness to share knowledge, open source code and/or contribute to the improvement of the ecosystem overall.

Google also included the following list of projects that it says would not qualify for Innovation Challenge funding:

  1. Projects relating to news coverage only or projects merely translating news content into other languages
  2. Upgrades of legacy publishing systems
  3. 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);
  4. Projects on training or education only
  5. Projects which do not have any monetization component
  6. Projects which do not impact a news organization
  7. Projects which reflect research without implementation

Google said it will finance up to 70% of the overall costs of the selected projects.

“Organizations are expected to detail costs for their projects, and this can include in-kind expenditure (for example, people assigned o the project) as part of their budget. Eligible expenses include engineering and operations costs (e.g. product development, project management, user experience design, database build and maintenance, and hosting), the purchase or licensing of any equipment, tools, hardware, software and other assets or materials needed for the project and marketing expenses (capped to 20% of the total amount requested),” Google said.

Editorial expenses are not part of the eligible costs for the Google-funded portion of a project and will not be covered,” the company said.

To apply for funding and get complete information on eligibility, rules and criteria, sample projects and funding details, go to https://newsinitiative.withgoogle.com/innovation-challenges/how-to-apply/NA