Good news for Google Gadget developers. We've just launched Google Gadget Ventures, a new pilot program for distributing grants and seed investments to gadget developers and gadget-related businesses. We're excited about the opportunity this will give developers to build even richer, more useful gadgets and get recognized for doing it.

The program will provide two kinds of funding. First, we'll invite promising gadget developers (individuals or businesses) to apply for $5,000 grants to fund further development. These are not loans or equity investments; they're simply grants for gadgets that already have a thriving user base and we think have potential for even more improvement. To be considered for a grant, your gadget needs to have more than 250,000 pageviews per week, and you need to provide a one-page proposal on how you'd like to improve your gadget. This is a no-strings-attached grant; we won't ask for repayment of any kind. We simply ask that you work on your project in good faith.

Secondly, the program will make $100,000 seed investments in companies that either start as a Google Gadget or have a large Google Gadget component. In order to be eligible for a seed investment, you must have received a $5,000 grant, and you must propose a plan for making your gadget financially sustainable.

If you're interested in creating your own Google Gadget, we have several tools that can help. The Google Mashup Editor has an option for instantly deploying your web app as a gadget. For Java programmers, Google Web Toolkit provides another good way to write a gadget or a full-featured AJAX app with a gadget component. The Google Data APIs and AJAX Feed API can help power your gadget with rich data sources. You can even add offline functionality using Google Gears.

We hope you find these tools useful for creating gadgets, and we're eager to hear what you think in the Google Gadgets discussion group.