AI for Earth Innovation 2021

National Geographic Society is requesting proposals for AI for Earth Innovation 2021.

To address the many pressing scientific questions and challenges facing our planet, we must increase global understanding of how human activity is affecting natural systems and create a community of change, driven by data and cutting-edge technology. Modern technologies, such as satellite imaging, bioacoustic monitoring, environmental DNA, and genomics, can capture data at a global scale, but also produce massive, complex data sets. Artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing can capitalize on the potential of such data, leading to faster and more meaningful insights and creating the opportunity for transformative solutions.

The grants will support the creation and deployment of open source trained models and algorithms so they are available to other environmental researchers and innovators, and thereby have the potential to provide exponential global impact.

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The AI for Earth Innovation Grant program will provide award recipients with financial support, access to Microsoft Azure and AI tools, inclusion in the National Geographic Explorer community and affiliation with National Geographic Labs, an initiative launched by National Geographic to accelerate transformative change and exponential solutions to the world’s biggest challenges by harnessing data, technology and innovation.

Extreme weather events, wildlife trafficking, rising sea levels, increased agricultural and urban development demands, higher global temperatures, and increased ocean acidity are among the threats to the natural systems and biodiversity we rely on. Proposed work should address one or more of the topics below and create generalizable, scalable tools that can be used by other environmental researchers and conservationists.

  • Biodiversity: Biodiversity around the world is rapidly declining.
  • Climate Change: Countries and communities around the world are engaged in climate resilience, adaptation, and mitigation efforts.

Projects will be evaluated and prioritized on the following:

  • Justification and importance of the proposed focus area
  • Justification of the need for cloud computing
  • Likelihood of the model or tool to scale and create a lasting impact

The National Geographic Society is an impact-driven global nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. Since 1888, National Geographic has been pushing the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas to increase understanding of our world and generate solutions for a healthy, more sustainable future for generations to come. Their ultimate vision: a planet in balance.

Microsoft enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.


  • Applicants may request $5,000 to $100,000. The budgets of successful proposals will include reasonable, well-justified costs directly required to complete the project.
  • In addition to financial support, successful applicants will receive free access to AI for Earth APIs, applications, tools, and tutorials, and support for their computational work on Microsoft Azure.


  • Early Career Grant and Exploration Grant projects that last one year or less. Project start dates should be a minimum of six months after the submission deadline to ensure any awarded funds are received in time.
  • Organizations can apply for grants, but the person within the organization who will lead the project—not the institution—should be the applicant and will be expected to meet the requirements of the grant.
  • All applicants must be at least 18 years old at the time they submit an application. There is no upper age limit for Early Career Grants. However, if you have more than five years of full-time, professional experience in the field of your project focus, you do not qualify for an Early Career Grant. Time in graduate school does not count toward this experience limit.
  • They encourage applications from around the world. If you are planning to work outside of your home country or community, you must include the name and contact information for at least one local collaborator as a project team member in the application.
Eligible Regions: Open for all except North Korea, Iran, Syria, or Crimea

Application Process

  • Complete the online application form through the Apply Now link.
  • To prepare your proposal, you will need:
    • A Primary Project Focus

You will need to indicate a primary project focus. If your project spans multiple focus areas or you have expertise in an additional focus area, you can indicate a secondary focus area.

    • Download a Sample Application

You can download a sample application for each project focus as a reference to help you prepare your proposal.

    • A Curriculum Vitae or Resume

Submit a curriculum vitae (CV) or resumé, in English, with your application. A CV is an extended resumé that presents biographical data, educational background, employment history, and scientific or media publication history. Do not include social security numbers, bank details, or any other private information in these documents.

Early Career Grant applicants may be asked to submit a two-minute video that will be used to help evaluate the proposal. You may speak in your primary language, but if that is not English, you MUST add English subtitles or attach an English video transcript.

    • A Budget

You must submit a budget with your proposal. National Geographic Society funds usually support travel (including for teams) and fieldwork (including equipment and supplies). Grant awards do not cover funding for scholarships, tuition, training courses, travel to conferences, study abroad programs, school living expenses, journal publication fees or internships. They do not provide funding for weapons or ammunition. A small amount of the requested budget can be allocated for lab work or analyses.

    • Team Members and References

You will need to list the name, email address, project role, affiliate organization, highest degree earned, and country of primary residence for all members of your project team. If you plan to work outside of your home country, you must include at least one local collaborator on your project team.

Early Career Grant applicants need to include the name and contact information of one advisor, mentor, or supervisor.

Looking for fully-funded opportunities, install the Youth Opportunities Android or iOS App here.

Application Deadline: October 21, 2020

Application ClosedOfficial link
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