Google launches its second News Initiative Innovation Challenge for META

Google’s News Initiative Innovation Challenge (GNI) is back and, in its second iteration, continues to look for projects that increase reader engagement and explore new business models for media.

The Innovation Challenge is looking for publishers and news media in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa (META) to submit their latest tools and solutions to be considered, with applications open from today onwards and closing on 12th April 2021 at 23:59.

The first Innovation Challenge proved rather successful, with 21 projects from 13 different countries in the META region being selected.

Like last year, there is added incentive in the form of funding for awardees, as Google will assist in getting the project off the ground.

“The selected projects will be funded up to $150 000, and up to 70 percent of the total project cost,” explains Ludovic Blecher, head of innovation at GNI.

“Funding is not available for editorial projects, but should instead be focused on reader engagement and exploring new business models. Google does not take any equity or IP in any projects or submissions. We are looking forward to seeing new ideas, projects and big bets come out of the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, a region rich with talent, potential and opportunity,” clarifies Blecher.

To give prospective applicants an idea of the type of projects that are being considered, the GNI has highlighted three in particular, one of which hails from SA.

“In South Africa, Daily Maverick developed a ‘relevancy engine’ for small and medium publishers to help them aggregate better reader insights to increase relevancy and increase subscriptions. Ringier Africa Digital Publishing in Nigeria was awarded funding to increase personalisation across its platform using a blend of prediction, recommendation and local information pages to increase user engagement. Kenyan awardee Africa Uncensored is aggregating news from members of the public to produce at scale,” a press release for the second GNI points out.

If you’re wanting more clarity there will be an online town hall on 3rd March at 15:00 SAST,  with a live presentation on how to apply, as well as an opportunity to ask questions to the GNI team.

[Image – Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash]


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