Innovation comes in many forms and can apply to myriad aspect of life. How we share and access news is not commonly considered an area for innovation, however, so Google’s Innovation Challenge in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa is a welcome opportunity for projects across the region to showcase how to best engage audiences and build stronger journalism practices.

This is the second time that Google has offered this challenge, with last year’s competition selecting 21 projects across 13 countries for Google funding as part of the company’s $300 million commitment to digital journalism approaches, with nearly $2 million being awarded as part of the challenge.

Some of last year’s winners included the development of a relevancy engine – studying reader behaviours to group relevant data feeds, and other projects tackling tagging in local languages, engaging readers in live video debates, and using predictive models to improve personalisation. 

The Google Innovation Challenge in 2021 is looking for projects that demonstrate innovation in business models, distribution, interfacing, social media, and workflows, and will be assessed against impact in the news industry, innovation, feasibility amongst other factors. 

Although focussed on news and journalism, the Google Innovation Challenge will see the development of technologies that might be amenable to crossover to other industries. As innovation is the focus for ongoing improvements across all industry sectors, there may be as yet unexpected benefits from the challenge – in the Middle East and beyond.