Ludovic Blecher, Head of the Google News Initiative Innovation, said: “We’re excited to bring the GNI Challenge to the Middle East and Africa. We want to make sure that all news organizations, large and small, as well as news startups, have the opportunity to inject new ideas into the local and regional news industry. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Google launched its innovation challenge for the region yesterday. This means news organizations of every size, as well as news startups and associations in the Middle East and Africa can submit digital project proposals for funding.

This initiative was announced at Google’s event for news publishers in Dubai, where regional and global executives presented the latest products and tools for publishers and journalists across revenue generation, Google News, Google Search, YouTube and Cloud Machine Learning.

The Google News Initiative (GNI) Innovation Challenge theme focuses on increasing reader engagement and/or explore new business models, such as personalisation, analytics, audio and voice applications, subscription, membership and loyalty programs.

Speaking at the event on Tuesday, Madhav Chinnappa, Director for News Ecosystem Development, said: “News publishers in many parts of the world are grappling with questions of how quality journalism can thrive in the digital age. With economic models changing and new ways in which people are consuming news, innovation in the news industry has never been more important.”

Ludovic Blecher, Head of the Google News Initiative Innovation said that they were excited to bring the GNI Challenge to the Middle East and Africa.

“We want to make sure that all news organisations, large and small, as well as news start-ups, have the opportunity to inject new ideas into the local and regional news industry.”

A panel will evaluate the submissions and fund selected projects up to $150k per project, and up to 70 per cent of the total project cost. The funding will be reviewed against several criteria, including a “knowledge sharing component”, for example, a project proposal can include publishing findings or holding a public seminar to encourage applicants to share the knowledge and learnings with others.

The application window for project submissions will open in June. More information on eligibility, rules and criteria, and funding will be published on the Google News Initiative website in May.