Google innovation fund allocates 7,8 million euros to 32 projects in Portugal

The innovation fund Digital News Initiative (DNI) has allocated 7,8 million euros to 32 digital journalism projects in Portugal in the accumulated of the six financing rounds, in the last five years, disclosed this Thursday to Google.

Portugal is the sixth country that received the most funding from DNI, after Germany (21,5 million euros), France (20,1 million), Spain (12,1 million), Italy (11,5 million) and the United Kingdom (14,9 million), according to the DNI report released today.

Almost half of the projects (49%) presented by Portugal were for the exploration of new technologies, 24% for combating disinformation, 15% for the dissemination of local stories and 12% for boosting digital revenues.

In the global fund of 150 million euros, "we have financed 662 projects in 30 countries across Europe," Madhav Chinnappa, director of development for the Google news ecosystem, told Lusa.

“I think that all the projects are fantastic,” he said, highlighting, in the Portuguese case, two, including that of the online newspaper Observador, with its online radio service, which received a financing of 390 thousand euros.

"This movement towards audio and voice service development was very interesting because it has been successful" and is "an interesting example of innovation", considered Madhav Chinnappa.

Another project is Nónio, a unique technological platform created by the largest communication groups that offers personalized content.

“Nónio has the capacity to inspire the industry” and also involves collaboration, he added.

“People are realizing how they can collaborate and what they can compete in, instead of competing at all. Let's be wiser and choose where to compete and where we can collaborate. I think this collaboration trend will continue, which is a good thing ”, said the official.

"Collaboration in all forms is important and the pandemic has demonstrated how interconnected we are," said Madhav Chinnappa.

Among the various entities that received funding from DNI, since it was launched in 2015, there are, in addition to the Observer and the Private Media Platform (PMP), Lusa, Cofina Media, Impresa, INESC, Público, University of Porto, Global Notícias or Empresa Jornalística Região de Leiria, among others, refers to the DNI report.

Globally, more than a quarter (27,2%) of the projects supported by DNI went to regional and national publishers, and 14,5% to news startups.

News agencies and non-profit organizations represented 14,2%, local publishers 11% and only online organizations 10,4%.

Still by type of organizations supported by the fund, academic institutions represented 3% and television 1,8%, as well as radio.

Overall, the DNI fund supported projects that address four major industry challenges: increasing digital revenues (12%), telling local stories (15%), combating misinformation (21%) and exploring new technologies (52%), according to the report.

“It was a fascinating experience because we had six funding rounds,” said Madhav Chinnappa.

In the beginning, a fund was created based on the responses of 'publishers' ”, about five years ago, on how the media industry could be helped.

“We created an innovation fund for news and we didn't even define what innovation was, we left it as open as possible”, he continued.

Considering these five interesting ones, the official adds that “more than 5.000 projects” were analyzed in this period, where it is possible to observe “how people define ideas and what they consider innovation”.

And, therefore, "is that more than half of the projects we supported have to do with new technology, as we involve audiences," he added.

But over time, in response to publishers' concerns about the problems of the media ecosystem, the next rounds focused on how to get revenue from readers and also “we tried to focus on the site,” explained Madhav Chinnappa.

Therefore, "we have a set of projects in these areas, which is interesting", considered the director of development of the news ecosystem at Google.

According to the head of Google, support for the media ecosystem will continue, through the various instruments that the company has.

"More collaboration, more debate, more development and more training" in the sector, this is a movement that "cannot stop", defended the official.

"We have a long-term commitment, we are an ecosystem company and we thrive when the ecosystems in which we operate thrive," he said.

Asked about the DNI fund, it was positive for the media sector, Madhav Chinnappa said: "I hope so, but I can't judge".

The responsible person leaves this assessment to the “owners of the 662 projects or, even before that, to the more than 5.000 who applied” to the fund, as it is “they who must evaluate whether it was positive or not”.

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