Google is offering a share of £2m to the four UK charities that come up with the most innovative technology-based ideas to improve society and transform lives.
Each winner of the Global Impact Challenge will receive £500,000, Chromebook laptops and technical assistance from Google to help them implement their projects. The competition opens today.
Google staff will review applications, which must be submitted by 17 April, and announce 10 finalists in May. The public will be able to learn more about the finalists, vote for their favourite and donate to any project they wish.
The judging panel is made up of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, Jilly Forster, founder of Forster Communications, Matt Brittin, vice-president for Google northern and central Europe, and Jacqueline Fuller, director of Google Giving. They will pick three winners from those on the shortlist at an event in early June. The fourth winner will be based on online votes from the public.
Brittin said: "Over the years Google has sought to support great organisations that are using innovation and technology to improve the lives of millions around the world.
"With this challenge, non-profits will have the chance to make their own pitch for why they deserve the money. We can’t wait to see their ideas."
Branson said: "I am a great believer in the power of entrepreneurs to solve key problems and improve lives through a combination of free thinking and the intelligent use of technology. Google’s Impact Challenge is a brilliant way to spark a new wave of innovation amongst non-profit foundations and charities and raise the profile of many great ideas in the non-profit sector."
Google was one of three multinational companies that were criticised recently by the Public Accounts Committee for their tax arrangements. "We were not convinced that their actions, in using the letter of tax laws both nationally and internationally to immorally minimise their tax obligations, are defensible," said the PAC report, published in December. The other companies were Starbucks and Amazon.