The second GNI Innovation Challenge is here! and this is a R1.3 Million Google Funding Opportunity For African Media Entrepreneurs. As part of this program, the GNI will fund a set of projects from around the world that meet specified criteria, with the intent of producing learning and thought leadership to share with the wider industry.
The second GNI Innovation Challenge in the Middle East, Turkey & Africa region focuses on reader engagement and new business models in any form. It follows the highly successful first round of the Challenge for the region which saw 21 projects from 13 countries receive $1.93 million in funding. As before, Google will fund selected projects up to USD $150,000 and will finance up to 70% of the total project cost. Special discretion on the total project cap may be considered by the Jury depending on the scale and impact of a very large collaborative effort.
The application window opens on 22 February 2021 at 10 GMT, and closes on Monday, April 12 at 23:59 GMT. Only online applications in English will be considered. Applicants are asked to provide descriptions, detailed project plans and budget information via our online application form. They are also required to accept the Middle East, Turkey & Africa GNI Innovation Challenge Application Terms and Conditions.
All ideas are welcome but we require all projects to have clear indicators showing the impact of the project from a user perspective and/or from a business perspective (eg: audience indicators, business plan when relevant). Successful projects will also need to be delivered within one year.
We encourage innovative projects – focused on but not limited to – the areas below:
- Business Models
Projects can be experimental but must be measurable with well-defined goals. We encourage applicants to clearly underline the opportunities of the project by providing clear key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs should have a significant digital component.
Projects will be evaluated against five main criteria:
- 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.
- Innovation: Preferred projects will be innovative (use of technology, business model, new reader engagement approaches etc) and be transformative for the applicant and for users.
- Feasibility: Projects should demonstrate clear indicators and metrics, or even a business plan when relevant, and set out key risks and mitigation steps.
- Inspiration: How can the project help news organizations learn from each other? Willingness to share knowledge, open source code or/and to contribute to the improvement of the ecosystem overall.
- Diversity: Preferred projects will be able to demonstrate their self-defined commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion whether that is within their audience, organisation or content. Google is committed to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and works to support companies/projects which are inline with such values.
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 have any monetization component
- Projects which do not impact a news organization
- Projects which reflect research without implementation
Google will fund up to $150,000 for selected projects. Special discretion on the total project cap may be considered by The Jury depending on the scale and impact of a very large collaborative effort. Google will finance up to 70% of the overall costs of the selected projects. The remaining self-funded costs can be 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 as well as marketing expenses (capped to 20% of the total amount 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.