Microsoft and National Geographic Form AI for Earth Innovation Grant Partnership

conservation technology, illustrative photo

The grants will support projects that use AI to advance conservation research.

Credit: National Geographic

Microsoft Corp. and National Geographic announced a new partnership to advance scientific exploration and research on critical environmental challenges with the power of artificial intelligence (AI). The newly created $1 million AI for Earth Innovation Grant program will provide award recipients with financial support, access to Microsoft cloud 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. Individuals and organizations working at the intersection of environmental science and computer science can apply for a grant online.

“National Geographic is synonymous with science and exploration, and in Microsoft we found a partner that is well-positioned to accelerate the pace of scientific research and new solutions to protect our natural world,” says Jonathan Baillie, chief scientist and executive vice president, science and exploration at the National Geographic Society. “With today’s announcement, we will enable outstanding explorers seeking solutions for a sustainable future with the cloud and AI technologies that can quickly improve the speed, scope, and scale of their work as well as support National Geographic Labs’ activities around technology and innovation for a planet in balance.”

“Microsoft is constantly exploring the boundaries of what technology can do, and what it can do for people and the world,” says Lucas Joppa, chief environmental scientist at Microsoft. “We believe that humans and computers, working together through AI, can change the way that society monitors, models, and manages Earth’s natural systems. We believe this because we’ve seen it—we’re constantly amazed by the advances our AI for Earth collaborators have made over the past months. Scaling this through National Geographic’s global network will create a whole new generation of explorers who use AI to create a more sustainable future for the planet and everyone on it.”

The $1 million AI for Earth Innovation Grant program will provide financial support to between five and 15 novel projects that use AI to advance conservation research toward a more sustainable future. The grants will support the creation and deployment of open-sourced trained models and algorithms that will be made broadly available to other environmental researchers, which offers greater potential to provide exponential impact.

Qualifying applications will focus on one or more of the core areas: agriculture, biodiversity conservation, climate change, and water. Applications are now open and must be submitted by Oct. 8, 2018. Recipients will be announced in December 2018. Additional information is available online.


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