The Microsoft AI for Earth grant program awards advanced Microsoft Azure cloud computing resources to individuals working on environmental and conservation programs aimed towards transforming the way we currently manage complex environmental challenges.

These grants are intended to drive exploration and discovery by providing innovative data science, machine learning, and visualization tools to organizations that are focused on finding solutions to climate change, loss of biodiversity, agricultural yield and environmental impact, and increased water scarcity. Learn more about environmental sustainability at Microsoft.

Program detailsToolsFAQ

In collaboration with Esri’s outreach team, the AI for Earth and Esri Grant provides access to advanced Microsoft Azure cloud computing resources and powerful Esri GIS tools 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 beyond the natural rate by orders of magnitude, driving the decay of key ecosystem services, like pollination, that humans depend upon.
  • Climate change: An increasingly variable climate—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.


Proposals must be submitted on or before April 9, 2018.

Qualified applicants

Applicants must be affiliated with an academic institution or non-profit research laboratory. In addition to individual investigator projects, we are interested in projects that will support access to services and projects that exemplify valued data to a collaboration or community. Faculty, researchers, and PhD students are qualified to submit proposals for Azure awards—master’s degree candidates and undergraduate students require a faculty project supervisor to submit their proposal.

Project proposal

The most important component of each application is a project proposal that describes the research project, its technical needs, and its potential impact.


Three pages

We recommend that your proposal concisely addresses 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 and Esri analytics offerings will your project use?
    • We offer Azure grants in the following amounts: $5,000, $10,000, and $15,000
      Justify the amount that your project will need (you can calculate an estimate by using the Azure calculator)
    • 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?
  • 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 help 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?

We have no requirements for proposal formatting.

Apply for a grant

Awarded toolset

Microsoft Azure

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

Our Azure Research blog further 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.


Grantees also get access to one of the world’s most powerful mapping and spatial analysis software. Esri ArcGIS Pro is 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.

Through Python and the R Bridge for ArcGIS, ArcGIS Pro works seamlessly across the data science tools in the Azure DSVM, bringing Microsoft’s data science and machine learning assets together with geospatial data management, analysis, and visualization capabilities of the ArcGIS Pro platform from Esri.

Learn more about the tools to which grantees receive access: