Areas of focus
AI for Earth awards grants to support projects that use AI to change the way people and organizations monitor, model, and manage Earth’s natural systems. To date, we have awarded over 700 grants to projects with impact in over 80 countries, and we are committed to growing this community of grantees.
The changing climate threatens human health, infrastructure, and natural systems. AI can give people more accurate climate predictions to help reduce the potential impacts.
By 2050, farmers must produce more food, on less arable land, and with less environmental impact to feed the world’s increasing population. AI can help people monitor the health of farms in real time.
Species are going extinct at an alarming rate. AI can help accelerate the discovery, monitoring, and protection of biodiversity across our planet.
In the next two decades, demand for fresh water is predicted to dramatically outpace supply. AI can help people model Earth’s water supply to help us conserve and protect fresh water.
To apply for Azure compute grants, submit a project proposal via the online application form. Review the proposal guidelines for application requirements.
To apply for special grants, submit proposals to respective partner organizations. Requirements and proposal guidelines vary for each partner grant: review guidelines, deadlines, and application process on each organization’s site.
We accept proposals on a rolling basis and review them four times a year. Deadlines for each period in 2021 are:
Floodwater detection challenge
AI for Earth, DrivenData, and Cloud to Street created a challenge to improve flood detection models with machine learning. Projects are asked to leverage SAR imaging to develop near real-time flood maps.
Artisanal mining grand challenge
Microsoft partnered with Conservation X Labs on the Artisanal Mining AI for Earth award to support projects that utilized AI to develop solutions that addressed artisanal mining challenges.
GEO and Microsoft
The GEO-Microsoft Planetary Computer Programme supported projects that used the Planetary Computer to address environmental challenges.
GEO BON and Microsoft
Microsoft and GEO BON launched a $1 million Essential Biodiversity Variables on the Cloud grant programme in April 2020 and awarded grants and Azure support to five winners.
Re:wild and Microsoft
In June 2020, five projects from around the world were awarded grants for their proposals to use AI to better understand the planet and solve pressing environmental issues.
Submit your application via the online application form.
You will need to include a proposal written in English, no longer than three pages. This is the most important component of your application, and should include concise descriptions of the following:
- What datasets will you use for your analyses? Is this data already collected?
- Approximate timeline for key project milestones
- What Azure offerings will your project use?
- We are particularly interested in projects where researchers are making use of higher-level Azure services such as machine learning (in other words, not just virtual machines and storage). You can see what’s available at Azure Cloud Services.
- Do you have the resources and technical skills to complete the project successfully?
- How does your project align with the AI for Earth areas of focus (agriculture, food, biodiversity, and/or climate change)?
- How does your project help transform the way we address environmental challenges?
- How will the results of your project be disseminated (for example, academic publications and open-source solution) and be beneficial to a community of users?
Applicants can be affiliated with an academic institution, non-profit organization, environmental start-up, or even an innovative new project within a company. We recommend that the main applicant has a demonstrated background in environmental science and/or technology (such as a PhD degree), and that at least one member of the team has strong enough technical skills to complete the project successfully.
To qualify for access to ArcGIS Pro through Esri, the grant recipient must be affiliated with an academic institution, non-profit organization, or start-up organization.
To estimate the monetary value of Azure computing resources you need, use the Azure calculator. Select all the products you would need for your research (including storage, virtual machines, and so forth) and enter these specifications into the Azure calculator. For your data, consider both the options under “Storage” as well as the options under “Databases”.
- Determine which size of VM you need; if you require machine learning models that use large amounts of data, heavy graphic rendering, or video editing, reference GPU-optimized VM sizes.
- Determine which geographic regions have your VM of choice.
- Note: GPUs are often in high demand, and thus are not always available in each region. If you need a GPU-optimized VM, try selecting a few different geographic regions until you can find your desired VM type.
AI for Earth grant applications are reviewed by Microsoft employees who are directly involved in the AI for Earth grant selection process for the sole purpose of proposal review and to determine the grant level to be provided.
Applications are evaluated on their scientific merit, innovative use of technology, and potential impact.
After each deadline, applicants will receive a decision by email within four weeks.
Yes. This award program is available worldwide.
If you have questions about the awards program or the application process not answered in this FAQ, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.