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Google offers charities £3.2m to change the world

Google Impact Challenge

Dragon Peter Jones and Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales join judging panel to award big cash prizes to technology that "transforms lives"

Google is offering charities up to £500,000 to help them develop innovative ideas that use technology to change people’s lives.

A panel of judges including Dragons’ Den star Peter Jones and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales will hang out a total of £3.2m to UK charities as part of Google’s Impact Challenge.

Google said it was looking for charities that wanted to use technology to “transform lives”. Previous winners include the Zoological Society of London, which wanted to develop tiny cameras to protect threatened wildlife (pictured) and SolarAid, which provides solar lighting in rural Africa.

The scheme is inviting UK charities to apply for a share of the prize kitty with technical assistance and mentoring from Google and charity innovation specialists Nesta also up for grabs. The top four submissions will each receive £500,000 with six runners up getting £200,000 apiece.

Charities have until 6 June to apply online with the ten finalists being named on 21 July. The Impact Challenge will then be opened up to a public vote and the ten prizes will be handed out at an event on 31 July.

Peter Jones, best known for his appearances on Dragons’ Den, will be one of the people judging the entries. He said the scheme had huge potential:

“The successful businesses I like to invest in create impact through vision and ambition. If we can see some of these qualities in these entries, the results could be massive. I’ve always said that if you’re going to dream, then dream big.”

The other judges are Matt Brittin, Google’s vice president in Northern and Central Europe, Helen Goulden from Nesta, Red Nose Day director Emma Freud and Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales.

First launched in the UK last year, Impact Challenges have since taken places in India, Brazil and San Francisco. Google said the scheme had already invested more than £10m into charities worldwide.

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