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Startups Lab

The Google News Initiative (GNI) and the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) invite you to apply to our upcoming Startups Lab in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), focused on helping early-stage digital news organizations grow their businesses.

In the Startups Lab, a cohort of news organizations will come together over six months to tackle specific business problems, with support from Google, ICFJ and a wide array industry experts.

Participants in our Labs:

- Receive customized coaching related to their business goals
- Implement specific steps to advance their goals
- Learn from peers who face similar business problems

We encourage you to apply as soon as possible. Please email us at with any questions or for additional guidance on whether this program would be a good fit for your news organization.


You are welcome to apply if you:

Geographic Eligibility
- Are based in or serving one of the following countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen

Newsroom Eligibility
- Minimum of two full-time employee (FTE) journalists, up to a maximum of 20 FTE journalists.
- Newsrooms focused on one or more of the following:

  • Public interest journalism
  • Filling an information gap
  • Serving a geographic-bound or single subject community
  • Serving an underserved community
  • Exploring new ways to deliver and/or monetize information

- Have produced original content for at least six months, but for no more than four years
- Have a news product (website, newsletter, etc), with demonstrated traction via site visits, sign-ups, and/or earned revenue
- You must be independently owned and operated (e.g. no government ownership in your organization)
- You must not employ government officials or individuals that are also employed by government entities
- Preferred: Entrepreneurs serving communities that don’t often see themselves or their stories reflected in their local news

Program Eligibility
- Can read and write fluently in Arabic
- Can assign a dedicated project manager responsible for ensuring your team attends all program and coaching sessions, and completes all assignments.
- Can assign 2-5 team members to be involved at different points of the Lab
- Commitment of 5-10 hours per team per week
- Willingness to share business insights and collaborate with fellow news entrepreneurs
- Not a Google employee or contractor

Apply now

Deadline: Thursday, January 12 at 11:59PM GMT

Program Dates: February 2023 - July 2023

The Startups Lab is a six-month catalyst program that seeks to put a cohort of independent local or single-subject journalism organizations on a pathway to financial and operational sustainability. The Startups Lab was created with support from a global network of industry experts, and has ran in North America, Europe, Latin America, India, and Indonesia.


  • Applicants that

    - Meet all eligibility criteria and are fluent in Arabic
    - Are for-profit or non-profit digital news organizations
    - Are registered or incorporated in one of the eligible geographies
    - Are seeking to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to operate and grow a digital news business
    - Are exploring a major strategic opportunity that can help them become more sustainable (journalistic impact, operational resilience and financial health)
    - Are not government-owned entities

    The Startups Lab is run in partnership with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).

  • Participants will be selected by Google staff in partnership with ICFJ.

    We will review all applications and determine a cohort that can collaboratively work together and learn from each other to reach the Lab’s goals.

    Google and/or ICFJ may request additional information via email regarding your application.

    Lab finalists will be invited to a 20-minute interview to share more about their news organization. Interview attendees should include anyone who would participate in the Lab, and an executive sponsor to confirm your organization’s interest and commitment.

    All applicants will be notified of selection decisions via email. Selected publishers will need to sign a participation agreement with Google.

  • Application deadlines and links to apply are listed. You will be asked to provide relevant information about your organization and will need to accept Google's privacy policy.

    We strongly recommend that you apply as soon as possible.

  • The online application form contains information required to process your application. Please allow 20-30 minutes to complete the application.

  • Yes, we will review all eligible applications received.

  • Please email us at with any questions or for additional guidance on whether this program would be a good fit for your news organization.

  • Google will process any personal data you provide in connection with this application in accordance with our privacy policy.

    Applicants may request to update, delete, or receive a copy of their responses by contacting

  • You will receive an email from us within six weeks of the application deadline.

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