Google invites publishers to apply for £109m of Digital News Initiative handouts

Google has launched a new grant system as part of its €150m (£109m) fund for European news publishers.

The company's Digital News Initiative was founded in April this year with the purpose of helping publishers “develop more sustainable models for news”.

It said the funding would be spread over three years and named eight companies as founding partners, including Guardian News and Media and the Financial Times.

Today, the internet giant has opened the DNI Innovation Fund for applications.

Google said: "The ambition and intent of the Fund is bold: to spark new thinking, which could come from anywhere in the news ecosystem, to give news organisations – of all sizes – the space to try some new things.  

"We’ve set aside up to €150 million for that purpose, which we’ll make available in the form of no-strings-attached awards over the next three years."

The company said there will be at least two application rounds a year, with the first opening today and closing on 4 December. The next is scheduled for spring 2016.

Google said: "We’re looking for projects that demonstrate new thinking in the practice of digital journalism; that support the development of new business models, or maybe even change the way users consume digital news. 

"Projects can be highly experimental, but must have well-defined goals and have a significant digital component. 

"There is no requirement to use any Google products. 

"Successful projects will show innovation and have a positive impact on the production of original digital journalism and on the future sustainability of the news business."

It said the fund is open to "established publishers, online-only players, news start-ups, collaborative partnerships and individuals based in the EU and EFTA countries".

Funding is available for three sorts of projects:

"Prototype projects", which are at a "very early stage, with ideas yet to be designed and assumptions yet to be tested" and require up to €50,000. Google would cover up to 100 per cent of the costs

"Medium projects", which require up to €300,000 of funding, with Google funding up to 70 per cent of the total cost

"Large projects", which require more than €300,000 of funding. Google would cover up to 70 per cent of the total. The cap is €1m, although exceptions are possible for collaborative projects.

Initial selection will be carried out by a project team, made up of "a mix of experienced industry figures and Google staff". They will "review all applications for eligibility, innovation and impact".

This team will make recommendations on prototype and medium projects to the fund's council, which will have oversight of the selection process and also vote on large projects.

The council is made up of 12 individuals, including Telegraph Media Group chief executive Murdoch MacLennan and representatives from Google.

More information is available on Digital News Initiative website.

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