AI for Earth awards Microsoft Azure cloud computing resources, including AI tools, to people and organizations that are working to transform the way we understand and manage our natural resources. Grantees receive access to and training on Microsoft’s innovative data science, machine learning, and visualization tools to advance their work in addressing climate change, protecting biodiversity, improving agricultural yields, and lessening water scarcity.

To date, we have awarded 110 grants to individuals and organizations in 27 countries.

Program detailsToolsFAQ

The AI for Earth Grant provides access to advanced Microsoft Azure cloud computing resources to individuals and organizations working on environmental and conservation programs aimed towards transforming the way we are currently managing complex environmental challenges.

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.
  • Water: In the next two decades, demand for fresh water—for human consumption, agriculture, and hygiene—is predicted to dramatically outpace supply.
  • Biodiversity: Species are going extinct at alarming rates, driving the decay of key ecosystem services like pollination that humans depend on.
  • 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.

Learn about our current grant recipients

How do I apply for a grant?


Submit your proposal via the online application form.


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 July 9, 2018. The final deadline for 2018 is October 8, 2018.

Qualified applicants

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.

Esri will consider AI for Earth grant recipients who are affiliated with academic institutions, nonprofit organizations, and start-up institutions for a sponsored subscription to ArcGIS Pro. Applicants who qualify for and are interested in this additional resource should detail in their project proposal which Esri analytics they intend to use.

Project proposal

The most important part of each application is a project proposal that describes the environmental challenge addressed, the datasets used for analysis, the technical solution proposed, and its potential impact. While we have no specific format requirements, your proposal should be written in English, not exceed three pages, and address the following points:
  • Project summary
    • What is your research question?
    • How does your project build on existing research?
    • What datasets will you use for your analyses? Is this data already collected?
    • Approximate timeline for key project milestones
  • Technical component
    • What 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?
  • 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 disseminated (for example, academic publications and open-source solutions) and be beneficial to a community of users?

Apply for a grant

Cloud computing and data science tools

Grantees get access to Microsoft Azure cloud computing resources and a variety of data science and machine learning tools, including powerful assets in the the Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit and the GeoAI Data Science Virtual Machine (DSVM). Grantees will receive 12 months of free resources worth $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000, depending on project needs.

The Microsoft Azure Research blog explains what, why, and how cloud computing can accelerate your research. You can also stay up to date on advancements through the Microsoft Azure blog.

Learn more about Microsoft tools that grantees can use:

Grantees affiliated with academic institutions, non-profit organizations, and start-up institutions also have the potential to access Esri ArcGIS Pro a next-generation, 64‐bit GIS desktop providing 2D and 3D mapping capabilities in an intuitive user interface. ArcGIS Pro features advanced visualization, analytics, image processing, and data management capabilities.

The new Geo AI DSVM integrates ArcGIS Pro into the Microsoft DVSM on Azure, to seamlessly tie geospatial data management, analysis and visualization capabilities with data science and machine learning tools. You can provision your own GeoAI instance and refer to this tutorial on land cover classification.