Google Opens Innovation Fund

Google’s Digital News Initiative has opened its Innovation Fund for applications. The Fund makes available €50 million a year for three years to “incentivise innovation and risk taking in the European digital news ecosystem”.

It is part of the wider Digital News Initiative, a partnership with European publishers that Google announced in April, which is focused on the development and preservation of journalism.

Established publishers, online-only players, news startups, publisher consortia, national or international associations, companies and individuals are all eligible to apply, and are able to do so until 4 December. The criteria for assessment are:

  • Impact on the news ecosystem;
  • Innovation/use of technology; and
  • Feasibility.

Money will be given to specific, targeted projects rather than applications with a broad digital agenda. The projects need to be digital only, and show innovation and the capacity to generate impact. Projects that focus on the creation or publication of content without a specific innovative component will not be eligible, nor will projects that upgrade existing systems, or ones that relate to the collation or listing of data (e.g. the republication of newswire articles or stock exchange data).

 Three sizes of award will be available:

  • Prototype projects for funding up to €50K;
  • Medium projects where the funding is up to €300K; and
  • large projects where the funding requested is over €300K (and capped at €1 million).

Exceptions can be made to the €100 million cap for large projects that are collaborative (e.g. international, sector wide) or that significantly benefit the broad ecosystem.

 Funding can be used to cover:

  1. Editorial expenses (on staff or freelance employees);
  2. Asset creation (e.g. licences);
  3. Engineering costs (e.g. product development, project management, user experience design, database build and maintenance, and hosting); and
  4. Marketing expenses (up to a maximum of 20% of the total funding awarded).

 Applications for funding will be considered by both the Projects Team and the Council, which includes both Google employees and external experts from the European news industry.