Google offers US$800 mil to virus-impacted businesses, health agencies

SAN FRANCISCO: Google on Friday pledged US$800 million worth of support in response to the coronavirus pandemic for health organisations, researchers and businesses impacted by the crisis.

The aid will come in the form of cash, ad credits, and cloud services from the California-based internet colossus, according to chief executive Sundar Pichai.

Google will provide US$250 million in ad grants to the World Health Organization and more than 100 other public agencies around the world providing information to stem the spread of the coronavirus, according to Pichai.

Some US$340 million worth of free advertising will be made available to small- or medium-sized businesses in Google’s network that are taking financial hits as people stay home due to virus risk.

“We hope it will help to alleviate some of the cost of staying in touch with their customers,” Pichai said in a blog post.

A pool of US$20 million worth of credits for services hosted in the Google “cloud” will be available to researchers and academic institutions exploring ways to combat the deadly pandemic or that are tracking critical data about its spread.

Google will also match as much as US$10,000 in donations its employees make to organisations in their communities this year, increasing the amount from US$7,500.

“Together, we’ll continue to help our communities – including our businesses, educators, researchers, and nonprofits – to navigate the challenges ahead,” Pichai said.

Google has been pouring months into working with partners to ramp up production of protective gear such as face masks for health care providers.

Employees from Alphabet divisions including Google, Verily and X are providing engineering, supply chain and healthcare are working with equipment makers to increase the production of ventilators needed to keep some Covid-19 sufferers alive, according to Pichai.