Google has announced the launch of its second Google News Initiative (GNI) innovation challenge in Africa, the Middle East and Turkey.

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In a statement on Tuesday, the tech giant called for entries on projects that increase reader engagement and explore new business models for media.

According to the company, those eligible to apply for the initiative include established publishers, online-only players, news startups, publisher consortia, and local industry associations.

It added that interested companies can submit their entries on its website, noting that applications will close by April 12, 2021.

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Ludovic Blecher, GNI’s head of innovation, said the selected projects will be funded up to $150 000, and up to 70 percent of the total project cost.

“Funding is not available for editorial projects, but should instead be focused on reader engagement and exploring new business models. Google does not take any equity or IP in any projects or submissions,” Blecher said.

“We are looking forward to seeing new ideas, projects and big bets come out of the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, a region rich with talent, potential and opportunity!”

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Last year, 21 projects in 13 countries received funding during the first edition of the GNI innovation challenge.

Awardees were from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Turkey, and the UAE.

In South Africa, Daily Maverick developed a “relevancy engine” for small and medium publishers to help them aggregate better reader insights to increase relevancy and increase subscriptions.

Ringier Africa Digital Publishing in Nigeria was also awarded funding to increase personalisation across its platform using a blend of prediction, recommendation and local information pages to increase user engagement.

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Africa Uncensored, Kenyan awardee, is aggregating news from members of the public to produce at scale.



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