Grow your digital news startup with us

GNI Startups Lab Europe is here.

Created in partnership between the Google News Initiative (GNI), German media innovation hub Media Lab Bayern, and the European Journalism Centre (EJC), the GNI Startups Lab Europe supports high-quality reporting for local communities, single-topic audiences and/or previously underserved communities.

GNI, Media Lab and the EJC have built a six-month programme specifically tailored to the needs of content startups in Europe. Participants benefit from Media Lab’s experience in supporting media startups and from EJC’s extensive European network and active community: they will take part in workshops, coaching and high-profile networking opportunities. Additionally, they get access to up to € 25,000 in grants for running revenue-generating experiments, should they need it.



The GNI Startups Lab Europe aims to help journalistic startups better understand their audiences, create higher quality content (text, audio and/or video) and navigate the pitfalls of monetisation. At the end of the programme, you will have improved your capabilities to sustainably provide your audience with high quality journalism.

Journalism first: A programme designed for those who bring great stories, breakthrough reporting and valuable services to their communities

In partnership with the  GNI, we make sure all participants have access to a budget to fund revenue-generating experiments

Great coaches help you get to where you should be - with advice tailored exactly to your needs

Available to early stage news organisations all over Europe

Huge international network of mentors, experts and talent

The programme consists of three phases:

The Product Development Phase starts in November and continues until the end of December. Participants learn how to develop your customer base further, how to refine your content strategy and how to utilise some basic innovation methods.

The Growth & Marketing Phase in January and February 2022 will support participants in matters such as Visibility, Ad Sales and Leadership.

The final Business & Sustainability Phase in March and April 2022 will help participants grow your startup to the next level by working with you on topics such as Recruiting, Finance and Investment.

All phases are held fully remote and mostly as live video calls. They will be separated by Pitch Days, giving the teams the opportunity to demonstrate their progress to a group of media industry experts. The programme will end with a celebratory Demo Day.


  • The participating startups are based in 8 different European countries: France, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, UK
  • The publications range in age from 6 months to 6 years and have been around for 2 years on average.
  • Most companies have fewer than 10 employees, whilst some are working together with multiple freelancers.
  • The topics addressed range from community issues in Lisbon to climate change awareness in Italy and regional politics in Transylvania.

All of the participating teams (in their own words):

Átlátszó Erdély

Country: Romania

Átlátszó Erdély (meaning Transparent Transylvania) is the only independent, nonprofit newsroom in Romania doing investigative journalism in the public interest focusing on the 1,2 million Hungarians living in Transylvania, Romania. Átlátszó Erdély works to make public expenditures more transparent, expose abuse of power and betrayal of the public trust by public officials and institutions and use investigative journalism to reform institutions.

Baynana Magazine

Country: Spain

Baynana is a digital magazine founded by refugees for migrants and refugees. It is the first magazine written in Arabic and Spanish about migration that is committed to social and public service journalism. The magazine aims to offer useful information to the Arabic-speaking community in Spain and, at the same time, to build bridges between migrants, refugees and Spaniards.


Country: Slovenia

Časoris is an award-winning online newspaper for children. Our vision is to inform, guide and inspire children by publishing news they can trust. We offer timely, relevant articles on current affairs, sports, science and entertainment in a kids-friendly language, accompanied by questions for reflection and a glossary.


Country: United Kingdom

Girlhood is a community and media platform powered by girls and young women around the world. To create a platform that reflects ordinary girls' stories, we're creating a pipeline and a community-powered media organization: we train girls in storytelling, edit and produce their work, and curate & publish their stories. This is the world, as seen through girls' eyes.


Country: France

Média'Pi! association fights against the social exclusion of deaf and hearing impaired people in France by giving them access to information. Média'Pi is a generalist bilingual online media in French and French Sign Language. It offers articles, photo reports, comics, photos and videos on general news and on the deaf community. It is also a learning platform - a "beacon" for the deaf community.

Mensagem de Lisboa

Country: Portugal

Mensagem is a local online magazine for Portugal’s capital. Its mission is community - bringing to light what our neighbours are doing in the city, for the city. Mensagem covers local politics and social issues as well as putting real people at the center of its reporting. The editorial office is based in a café downtown called Brasileira, acting as a connection point to the city and its people.

Radar Magazine

Country: Italy

We live in an age of environmental transition. To understand the global issues that have an impact on our lives locally, as well as possible solutions, we need journalism that explains the complexity. We do just that with RADAR, a monthly online magazine in which storytelling meets sound scientific content and award-winning photojournalism. 


Country: Romania

Recorder is an independent online publication, founded in 2017 by four journalists who wanted to create a public service media platform guided by honesty. Today, it is Romania’s most important independent video journalism platform. "Journalism made for our readers, not for obscure interests" is our tagline. We believe that the future of journalism lies in images, but we also publish reports and video investigations.

shado mag

Country: United Kingdom

shado mag CIC is a multimedia platform operating at the intersection of arts, activism and academia. We bring together voices from diverse fields, which are currently working in silos, to encourage collaboration and to create greater impact. shado exists as a site for self-representation: we believe those with lived experience of an issue or injustice are best placed to advocate for meaningful change within that space.

SideStreet Malta

Country: Malta

SideStreet is a content creation initiative delivering news directly affecting our online community. Our promise and ultimate goal is to create an open space where people can express their views, share their ideas and make their voices heard. Keeping this in mind, our main focus is innovating the way news is delivered, making it accessible and consumable to younger audiences. SideStreet is among the first media companies in Malta to be born totally out of social media.

GNI Startups Lab Europe timeline

Trial Run:
Oct. 18-21, 2021

Startup School:
Nov. 8 - 12, 2021

Programme launch for all Participants

First Pitch Day:
Dec. 17, 2021

End of Phase I

Second Pitch Day:
Mar. 4, 2021

End of Phase II

Demo Day:
Apr. 21

Presentation of results

Please note: all dates are subject to change

Frequently Asked Questions

As the application process is closed for 2021: Will there be future opportunities to work with GNI Startups Lab Europe?

We can’t guarantee that yet, since this is a pilot.  Each of the partners organising GNI Startups Lab Europe are experienced players in the support of startups, and each is committed to offering more iterations of the GNI Startups Lab or similar programmes, should the opportunity arise. 

How much does the programme cost?

The Google News Initiative will cover all programme costs, meaning the Lab is completely free of charge for all participants. We do not charge a fee or take any equity. All you need to contribute is your time and energy.

Who’s the programme for?

The programme is for founders and teams producing journalistic digital content who want to 

  • Develop the knowledge and skills necessary to operate and grow a digital news business
  • Explore a major strategic opportunity, which can help you become more sustainable. Sustainability in the context of this programme is defined as the union of journalistic impact, operational resilience and financial health
  • You’re committed to public-service reporting with communities, not on communities
  • You’re committed to making your business idea financially sustainable as quickly as possible
  • You or your team are able to commit at least eight hours per week for six months to meeting coaches and trainers, as well as completing remote coursework.

We are especially interested in entrepreneurs who want to serve communities that don’t often see themselves or their stories reflected in their local news.

Which startups were eligible?
  • Teams must be based in one of the following  European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom
  • Are independently owned and operated
  • Produce original content that is primarily available on a digital platform(s)
  • Have been operating for at least six months
  • Earn less than $ 500,000 per year in gross revenue
  • Can demonstrate some successes on the path to sustainability. Examples include increased site visits, a growing membership program or increased earned revenue.  
  • Focus on one or more of the following:
    • Public interest journalism
    • Closing an information gap
    • Serving a geographic-bound or single subject community
    • Serving an underserved community
    • Exploring new ways to deliver and/or monetise information
Where is the programme held?

The entire programme is held remotely, using video conferencing tools like Zoom and collaboration tools like Miro.

What is the format of the programme?

The programme will consist of remote group events like the Startup School in the beginning and Pitch Days after Phases 1 and 2. In the meantime, startups will be able to choose from a variety of remote workshops and spend time in individual sessions with our coaches and trainers.

Which language does the programme use?

All workshops and 1:1 coaching sessions are held in English.

I have more questions! Who can I talk to?

For all questions regarding the programme, please contact Media Lab Programme Manager Lena at

GNI Startups Lab is a collaboration

The Google News Initiative is Google’s effort to work with the news industry to help journalism thrive in the digital age. Our efforts focus on three pillars: working with the news industry to evolve their business models and drive sustainable growth, elevating quality journalism and empowering news organizations with new technology. 

Media Lab Bayern is an Innovation Hub and Startup Accelerator for Media Startups, based in Munich, Germany. Founded in 2015, it has provided an extensive programme with funding and coaching to more than 200 startups and teams to date. Media Lab also organizes events and offers services to established media companies to help build the future of media.

Since 1992, the European Journalism Centre has been building a sustainable, ethical and innovative future for journalism through grants, events, training and media development. They are an international non-profit, headquartered in The Netherlands, that connects journalists with new ideas, skills and people.