Skip to main content
Not sure where to start? Take a short quiz to get personalized recommendations.

What is the GNI Innovation Challenge?

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 Europe focuses on innovation in any form. It follows the DNI Fund which ran from 2015 and funded 662 projects across Europe. Selected projects will produce learnings and thought leadership to share with the wider industry.

Application process

The application window opens on Thursday, April 7th 2022 , and closes on May 31st at 23:59 GMT. Only online applications in English will be considered. Applicants are asked to provide clear descriptions and budget information plus complete a templated slidedeck via our online application form. They are also required to accept the European GNI Innovation Challenge Application Terms and Conditions.

Application eligibility requirements

The European Innovation Challenge is open to all types of news organizations, including freelancers and sole traders, that produce original journalism and whose projects focus on creating a more sustainable and diverse news ecosystem.

This GNI Innovation Challenge is primarily intended for news organizations with an editorial staff of 50 or fewer full time (FTE) journalists, including freelancers. However, publishers employing just more than 50 FTE journalists may be considered subject to Google’s discretion. If you would like to discuss your specific situation, please do not hesitate to contact us at eugnichallenge@google.com.

Eligibility

Geographically, applicants must be based in Europe (eligible countries listed in Terms & Conditions).

News organizations must be incorporated in one of the eligible countries. Unincorporated organizations must be registered in the region or, if unregistered, have their principal place of business there.

Eligible Projects

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:

  1. Innovation: Preferred projects will be innovative and transformative for the applicant and for users.
  2. Impact on the news ecosystem: Preferred projects should demonstrate potential for significant positive impact for the wider industry. For example, collaborative approaches and open source projects are encouraged.
  3. Feasibility: Preferred projects should demonstrate their potential through clear indicators and expected metrics. They should set out key risks and mitigation steps.
  4. 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 that are in line with such values.
  5. 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, writing 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.

Project Funding

Google will fund up to €150,000 for selected projects. Out of the total project budget, Google will finance up to 70% while 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.

Governance

Applications to the European GNI Innovation Challenge are reviewed by a team of experts which may be composed of Google employees and industry experts who have knowledge and expertise in the news industry. This diverse group will review every application received by deadline and make a selection on those to fund.

FAQs

  • The ambition and intent of the GNI Innovation Challenge in Europe is bold: to help incentivize innovation, encourage collaboration and spark new thinking, which could come from anywhere in the news ecosystem, especially for small and medium news organizations who want the opportunity to try something new.

  • The Challenge is open to news organizations that produce original journalism whose projects focus on innovation towards creating a more sustainable and diverse news ecosystem. National and local established publishers, online-only players, news startups, publisher consortia and local industry associations as well as freelancers and sole traders, are eligible to apply.

    The Innovation Challenge will prefer applications from organizations that have a newsroom of 50 or fewer full time journalists. Publishers employing just more than 50 FTE journalists may be considered subject to Google’s discretion. Applicants should be based in an eligible European country and have their principal place of business there (eligible countries listed in Terms & Conditions)

  • The application window opens on April 7th 2022, and closes on May 31st at 23:59 GMT.

  • We’re looking for projects that demonstrate new thinking in the practice of digital journalism; that support the development of new business models, or change the way users consume digital news. Successful projects will show innovation and have a positive impact on the production of original digital journalism.

    What do we mean by innovation?

    By innovation, we mean ideas that haven’t been tried previously by the applicant and/or show a new approach. This can manifest in many different ways since applicants' starting points will often vary considerably.

    Because of this, it is important for every application to clearly tell us why the project is innovative.

    The range of projects can be varied, bring us your boldest ideas! This could be anything from using Artificial Intelligence in the newsroom to diversifying your business model or figuring out ways to increase audience engagement or even reach new audiences. Whatever it is, we want to hear your sharpest solutions to your real world challenges.

    Seeking inspiration? Watch these compelling videos that take an in-depth look at projects we’ve already funded who are making an impact and take a look at all Selected Projects here.

    Not enough? Have a look at some amazing projects selected during our previous project, the DNI Fund.

    What do we mean by a ‘project’?
    Funded projects will need to complete development within 12 months and conclude with the launch of a new, tangible news product, service or tool to help the news organization thrive. Funded projects are not about the applicant’s day-to-day activity or simply an expansion of something that already exists.

    All projects should have a significant digital component.

    Please note there is no requirement to use any Google products.

  • We need two things to accept your application.
    1) A completed online application form
    2) A PDF slidedeck about your project submitted through the same form

    We will consider applications written in English only. Please note the character count and limitation are mentioned directly in the online form. We recommend you to be as brief and clear as possible. Applications also include a mandatory PDF slidedeck which has a template that is linked [here]. This template is an example slidedeck containing prompts in the slides and speaker notes to help you create the most effective slidedeck. Please follow the outline of the slidedeck as suggested in the example. In addition to the form and the slidedeck, you will also be asked to accept the European GNI Innovation Challenge Application Terms and Conditions.

    The application window lasts for 8 weeks. Take advantage of this time to document your application as thoroughly as possible:

    1. Please download and review this PDF of application form questions prior to starting the work.
    2. Download the slidedeck from this link to review the information required.
    3. Take the time to consult and do research, brainstorm with your team and prepare the best responses.
    4. When you are ready, please go to the online version of the form and submit the application and slidedeck.

    If you would like additional information, please contact us at eugnichallenge@google.com

  • The title should sum up the purpose of the project. What will be the top line achievement of this project? It's a bit like a headline or tweet, a simple statement that the assessors will be able to use to understand the topic area and idea. Please note there is a 140 character limit.

  • This is a required question in the application form. You should use your answer to detail exactly what it is you will do, the value the project will add for your organization and beyond. Using an elevator pitch format could be useful but be specific about what your proposed project is and what you aim to build.

    When answering this question, bear in mind that the 5 point criteria outlined below will be used to evaluate your application. Please detail how your proposal answers each of those points and tell us why this project is innovative for your organization.

    Projects will be evaluated against five main criteria:

    1. Innovation: Preferred projects will be innovative and transformative for the applicant and for the users.
    2. 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.
    3. Feasibility: Preferred projects should demonstrate their potential through clear indicators and expected metrics. They should set out key risks and mitigation steps as well as inform the GNI team about the applicant’s special qualities.
    4. 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 inline with such values.

    Inspiration: Preferred projects will show willingness to share knowledge and to contribute to the improvement of the ecosystem overall. Selected recipients will be required to produce a public report with learnings from the project.

  • Use this section of the application form to identify the problem you’re trying to solve and describe how you plan to tackle it. Articulate how you will implement the idea with details about the steps you will take, the resources you will require and precisely what the funding will be spent on. Take this opportunity to describe how you will make and track progress on the project.

  • Providing a slidedeck is a mandatory requirement. Click here to open the slidedeck template which provides the recommended structure and some guidelines and tips to help you. The slidedeck gives you an opportunity to focus and refine your idea in a simple to understand way. The slidedeck template is intended to be directional, i.e. outlining everything we would like addressed. However, please freely express your creativity and team culture through layout and design.

  • Collaborative applications with other industry players, associations or academic bodies, for example, are welcome. You can find more information on how to make a collaborative application in the European GNI Innovation Challenge Terms & Conditions.

  • You can find the European GNI Innovation Challenge Terms & Conditions here.

  • Yes, we will review all eligible applications received by the application deadline.

  • If you would like to contact the team please email eugnichallenge@google.com

  • Each applicant may only submit one application and we will not consider multiple applications in respect of the same project. For organizations that are part of a larger group or holding structure with many different titles, please restrict applications to a maximum of 3 projects. Organizations and groups are therefore encouraged to focus their applications on top priority projects.

  • A limited number of people will have access to the responses that applicants provide. They will use these responses to assess the projects. Please see the Application Terms and Conditions for further details on how we will treat the information that you provide to us. As set out in the Terms and Conditions, we require that applicants do not submit to us any Business Sensitive Information. If the applicant has indicated that they wish to be connected to other applicants or industry groups, the Project Team may contact the applicant to offer knowledge sharing opportunities (featuring projects at events, case studies, etc).

  • 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. Please see the European GNI Innovation Challenge Terms and Conditions for more details. Please note that the effective date for the project will be the date that Google countersigns the funding agreement. No expenses incurred before this date can be covered by the funding.

  • As set out in the European GNI Innovation Challenge Terms and Conditions, we require that applicants do not submit any Business Sensitive Information (as defined in the Application Terms and Conditions). Google intends to publicize its activities relating to the GNI Innovation Challenges. As outlined in the Application Terms and Conditions, it is a condition of the application that Google may publicize aggregated data showing how funds have been offered in the GNI Innovation Challenges and certain project-specific information.

    Business Sensitive Information is confidential information which, if disclosed, would provide your competitors with a competitive advantage over you or would otherwise cause substantial harm to you.

    As the owner of your project, you are the best judge on what information is Business Sensitive. However, if you are in any doubt about this then we recommend you seek independent legal advice.

  • We may contact applicants if we require further information or clarification prior to making our final selection. In that case, we would contact you via email. Our project team endeavors to review and select applications within three months, however timing may change due to the number of responses. We will notify all projects of whether they have been selected or not, but we can't provide specific feedback to applications who haven't been selected.