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.

Are you an early stage news organisation creating original digital content? 

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


Applications for the 2021 GNI Startups Lab Europe are now open. If you are an existing news founder or part of an early-stage digital news organisation, then we want to hear from you!  


News & Programme Updates

  • 28 July, 2021: We are live! Read all about the programme and the ideas behind it in our blogpost


  • 14 September, 2021 - 5pm CEST: Second Q&A-Call. Have any questions about Google Startups Lab Europe? Ask them here! 


  • 20 September, 2021 - 11:59pm CEST: Application Deadline

GNI Startups Lab

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 will consist of three phases:

The Product Development Phase starts in November and continues until the end of December. You will 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 you in matters such as Visibility, Ad Sales and Leadership.

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

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

Who will love this programme

If you want to hone the necessary skills to grow a digital news business, are committed to public-service-reporting and want to explore a major strategic opportunity in digital media, you and your team are just who we are looking for! 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.

GNI Startups Lab Europe timeline

Applications close on 20 September, 2021 - 11:59PM CEST.

Trial Run:
Oct. 18-24, 2021
exact dates tba.

Startup School:
Nov. 8 - 19, 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:
Mar 2021

Present your results.

Please note: all dates are subject to change

Application Process
All Applicants are required to fill out our application form. You can find the application form here.

Of all applicants, 20 teams will be invited to participate in our Trial Run, a multi-day remote event taking place sometime between 18 October, 2021 and 24 October, 2021 (exact dates tba). The Trial Run ends with a remote Pitch Day, after which up to ten startups will be chosen to enter the GNI Startups Lab Europe.

Frequently Asked Questions

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 are eligible?

Please consider applying if you:

  • Are 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
How many participants will there be?

The programme will give ten teams from across Europeat the opportunity to participate.

Where will the programme be held?

The entire programme will be 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 will the programme use?

All workshops and 1:1 coaching sessions will be held in English.

How much time will I need to invest?

You or your team should be able to commit at least eight hours per week for the duration of the six months programme to meet with coaches and trainers, complete remote-live and asynchronous coursework and drive your project. 

How do I apply?

All applicants are required to fill out our application form, answer all questions and upload a pitch deck in English. You can find the application form here. 20 applicants will be selected to participate in our Trial Run workshop, at the end of which ten teams will be chosen to be part of the programme.

Does applying for the GNI Startups Lab preclude me from applying for other GNI-related programmes or funding?

No, it doesn’t. You should apply to whatever opportunities are best suited for you at this moment –– applying to multiple ones will not help or hurt your chances of being selected. We do, however, ask you to disclose existing sources of funding during the application process.

What if I’m not ready to apply for the programme right now? 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. 

If I already submitted my application, but then need to update my submission, how do I submit an updated application?

You will be able to edit your submission until the end of the application period on 20 September, 2021.

I have more questions! Who can I talk to?

For all questions regarding the programme or the application process, please contact Media Lab Programme Manager Lena at There will also be live Q&A-Sessions regarding the application process ahead of the deadline. Check Media Lab Bayern’s and EJC’s social media for time & date updates.

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.