Google's innovation competition for Australia's non-profits is back, and has $4.5 million to give away

Photo: Getty Images

The Google Impact Challenge is coming to Australia for the second time.

Submissions are open today for the competition which encourages non-profits to harness technology to develop an innovative social project.

“What the Impact Challenge is all about is supporting innovators in the non-profit sector who are looking to use technology to increase the scale and impact of their challenges, whether they’re social challenges, challenges relating to the environment, the developing world,” says Alan Noble, engineering director at Google.

“Non-profits, even innovative non-profits don’t necessarily have a lot of homegrown capability in tech, so hooking them up with right folks at Google in particular engineers is incredibly valuable,” he says.

The competition, which first came to Australia in 2014, is giving away $4.5 million in funding this year – $750,000 for the first four winners and $250,000 for the next six finalists.

It is also providing finalists with technical guidance and mentoring from Google employees to help implement their project.

The Fred Hollows Foundation won an award in 2014 for their low-cost cameras to detect blindness earlier on. Photo: Supplied.

In 2014, the Fred Hollows Foundation’s low-cost camera to help detect blindness took out the People’s Choice Award.

The three overall winners included an app to connect homeless people with social services, environmentally-friendly toilets, and a game to encourage young Indigenous children to take up maths and science.

This year, however, Noble says the competition is likely to see more entrants in the area of climate change.

“In terms of the specific areas, I think you have to look at some of the global trends, things that people are talking about and dealing with globally are likely to have more of an influence on the people’s choice more than the judges per se.

“My gut feeling and this is just speculation is that climate change is much much more prominent in peoples’ minds than it was perhaps two years ago which is a good thing.”

Noble says that in addition to innovators from environmental non-profits, there will also be entries addressing education and international development challenges thanks to a partnership with DFAT.

The criteria for the proposals will be based on impact, innovation, scalability and feasibility.

The Google Impact Challenge is also running in India, Brazil, the UK and the US.

Applications close July 13.

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