Google’s News Initiative heads to APAC with grants of up to $300K for media orgs

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Google is expanding its efforts to support media to Asia Pacific after the search giant brought its Google News Initiative to the region.

Known as GNI, the program is designed to “help quality journalism thrive in the digital age” by providing grants (i.e. cash without equity) to media organizations that are judged to have potential. The initiative started life in Europe in 2015 with a $170 million funda $300 million U.S-based incarnation went live earlier this year. It has also extended to YouTube after GNI set aside $25 million and pledged to work with media figures to combat fake news and develop new features.

For Asia Pacific, Google isn’t saying precisely how large the kitty is, but it is promising grants of “up to” $300,000 for publishers developing new and innovative business models and revenue streams.

“We are inviting proposals for projects aimed at increasing revenue from readers, including subscriptions, membership programs, contributions and/or new digital products and services. A panel of Googlers and other tech industry executives will review the submissions and fund selected projects up to $300,000 and finance up to 70 percent of the total project cost,” Kate Beddoe, Google’s head of news and publishing partnerships, wrote in a blog post.

A company spokesperson told TechCrunch that the grants will be staggered. Success applicants will be provided with their grant in tranches in exchange for sharing their experiences with the wider community, for example, as materials published online or at events. That information exchange is aimed at helping media within Asia Pacific to learn from each another and more generally share sustainability ideas and war stories.

The fund was announced today but it won’t kick off until 2019.

Those wanting to submit applications can do so at the dedicated website (here) from November 28 until January 9. Google said it’ll provide additional details on December 11 when it will host an “APAC town hall at its Singapore office — the live stream for that is here.

Google isn’t the only one backing media across APAC through grants. Blockchain media startup Civil recently announced a $1 million fund for Asia, although it remains to be seen if that will go ahead since the company canceled its ICO after failing to hit its $8 million minimum target.

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