January 8, 2008
Google.org has announced a $US25 million funding round to a variety of organisations. The grants and investments fall into five areas that will be the focus of the company’s philanthropic activity for the next five to ten years.
“These five initiatives are our attempt to address some of the hard problems we as a world need to face in the coming decade,” said Larry Brilliant, executive director of Google.org.
“We have chosen them both because we think solving them will make a better, fairer, safer world for our children and grandchildren – and the children and grandchildren of people all over the world – but also because we feel that these core initiatives fit well with Google’s core strengths, especially its innovative technologies and its talented engineers and other Googlers, who are really our most valuable assets.”
Several relatively big-ticket allocations have been made.
InSTEDD (Innovative Support to Emergencies, Diseases and Disasters) will receive $US5 million to help its work in improving readiness and response to global health threats and humanitarian disasters. (‘Predict and Prevent’)
The Global Health and Security Initiative has been allocated $US2.5 million to improve disease surveillance systems in the Mekong Basin. (‘Predict and Prevent’)
Pratham, a Indian non-government organisation, will use its $US2 million to set up an institute to conduct a regular national education status report and large scale assessments. (‘Inform and Empower to Improve Public Services’)
$US4.7 million is heading to Technoserve, which will use it to help entrepreneurs in poor rural areas of the world to build businesses. (‘Fuel the Growth of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises’)
A few smaller grants were also made to organisations working in the above areas.
But the biggest single allocation is staying closer to home. As part of the RE<C project (‘Develop Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal’), Google.org is investing $10 million in eSolar. The plan, and more specifically the relationship with eSolar was revealed last year, but the investment deal has now been completed.
Another previously announced Google.org program is RechargeIT (‘Accelerate the Commercialization of Plug-In Vehicles’), which ties in nicely with RE<C – if we’re going to see electric cars, it makes sense that the power they use should be generated as cleanly as possible. While no specifics were announced, Google.org said it plans a series of $US500,000 to $US2 million investments in this area.