AI for Earth awards grants to support projects that change the way people and organizations monitor, model, and ultimately manage Earth’s natural systems. Depending on project need, our grants can award Microsoft Azure cloud computing resources (including AI tools) and/or data labeling services.

To date, we have awarded 139 grants to projects with impact in 45 countries, and are committed to growing this community of grantees.

Program detailsToolsFAQSpecial grants

The AI for Earth Grant provides access to advanced Microsoft Azure cloud computing resources to support projects that change the way people and organizations monitor, model, and ultimately manage Earth’s natural systems.

What types of grants do you offer?

Currently AI for Earth provides two types of grants. Each round, you can apply to either, or both, depending on your project needs.

  • Data labeling services: An important prerequisite for most AI projects is having an accurately labeled dataset to train your model on. Thus, we provide grants to help label key datasets in our four environmental focus areas. All datasets that are labeled through our grants program are hosted on Azure and made publicly available to other organizations and individuals for training models. The amount granted is dependent on size of dataset and difficulty of labeling.
    • Azure compute credits: If you already have access to a labeled dataset and are ready to start computing in the cloud and accessing Azure AI tools, this grant provides you with Azure compute credits worth $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000 (depending on your project scope and needs). By being a member of the AI for Earth grantee community, you also have access to additional resources (technical advice and support, online Azure training materials, as well as invitations to the AI for Earth Summit for networking and education opportunities).

      What environmental areas does the program focus on?

      AI for Earth program awards grants to projects that address four areas that are vital for building a sustainable future:

      • Agriculture: To feed the world’s rapidly growing population, farmers must produce more food, on less arable land, and with lower environmental impact. AI can help in areas like:
        • Land-use planning and management
        • Natural resource conservation
        • Sustainable supply chains
        • Climate resilient agriculture
      • Biodiversity: Species are going extinct at alarming rates, driving the decay of key ecosystem services like pollination on which humans depend. AI can help in areas like:
        • Habitat protection and restoration
        • Sustainable trade
        • Invasive species and disease control
        • Pollution control
        • Realizing natural capital
      • Climate change: Extreme weather events, rising sea levels, higher global temperatures, and increased ocean acidity threaten human health, infrastructure, and the natural systems we rely on for life itself. AI can help in areas like:
        • Climate resilience
        • Extreme weather and climate modeling
        • Sustainable land-use change
        • Ecosystem services (including carbon sequestration)
      • Water: In the next two decades, demand for fresh water—for human consumption, agriculture, and hygiene—is predicted to dramatically outpace supply.
        • Water supply (including catchment control)
        • Water quality and sanitation
        • Water efficiency
        • Extreme event (droughts, floods, disasters, etc.) management
        • Healthy oceans

      Learn about our current grant recipients (PDF)

      How do I apply for a grant?

      Submission

      Submit your proposal via the online application form.

      The grant application includes an online form with two sections, one for data labeling services and one for Azure credits. Fill out either or both, depending on the resources you need for your project. For Azure compute grants, you will also fill out a written project proposal (details below) that is uploaded in the Files section of the Online Application System.

      Deadline

      We accept proposals on a rolling basis and review them four times a year. Our next evaluation will be for all proposals submitted by 11:59pm PST October 8, 2018. This is the final deadline for 2018.

      Qualified applicants

      Applicants can be affiliated with an academic institution, non-profit organization, government entity, environmental start-up, or an innovative project within a company. For the Azure compute grants, we recommend that the main applicant has a demonstrated background in environmental science and/or technology, and that at least one member of the team has strong enough technical skills to complete the project successfully. Applicants should be close to or done with their data collection and ready to start with computation and model building.

      Esri will also consider AI for Earth grant recipients who are affiliated with academic institutions, nonprofit organizations, and start-ups for a sponsored subscription to ArcGIS Pro. ArcGIS Pro is a leading geospatial software for creating maps, performing spatial analysis, and managing data.

      Project proposal

      The most important part of each Azure compute grant application is a project proposal that describes the environmental challenge addressed, the datasets used for analysis, the technical solution proposed, and its potential impact. Proposals should be written in English and not exceed three pages. While there is no specific format for proposals, a guideline is below that outlines information that is important to include:
      • Title

      • Team members/collaborators
        • List one project leader first, then include all other team members afterwards
        • Include names, roles, and institutional affiliations for each member
      • 1-2 sentence summary of your project

      • Project summary
        • What challenge are you addressing? What is your proposed solution?
        • Approximate timeline for key projecy milestones?
        • How does your project build on existing research?
        • What datasets will you use for your analyses?
          • Is this data already collected?
          • Is your data labeled and ready to be used as training data?
      • Technical component
        • What Microsoft Azure offerings will you use? We’re particularly interested in projects that use AI and machine learning. You can see what’s available at Azure Cloud Services.
        • We offer $5,000, $10,000, and $15,000 grants. Justify the amount your project will need (you can calculate an estimate using the Azure calculator).
        • Do you have the resources and technical skills to complete the project successfully?
          • Has anyone on your team used Azure or another cloud computing service before?
      • Impact
        • How does your project align with the AI for Earth areas of focus (agriculture, food, biodiversity, and/or climate change)?
        • How does your project transform the way we address environmental challenges?
        • How will the results of your project be leveraged and beneficial to a community of users?
          • Are you creating tools, APIs, or applications that can be used? Will they be open-source?
          • Where will your project have direct positive impact? (Be specific about geographic locations.)

      Download the sample project proposal for reference

      Apply for a grant