Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, Microsoft AI for Earth Innovation Grant for projects that use AI for global environmental impact in the Middle East and Africa

Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, Microsoft AI for Earth Innovation Grant for projects that use AI for global environmental impact in the Middle East and Africa

Microsoft is awarding new grants to fellow pioneers in the Middle East and Africa through a new partnership with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and the National Geographic Society

Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation

The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF) aims to create a world where both nature and humanity coexist in harmony. Over the past twenty years, LDF has awarded over $100 million in grants, funding 200+ high-impact projects in 50 countries across Asia, the Americas, Africa, the Arctic, Antarctica, and all five oceans.

LDF has achieved this success through active collaboration with a broad network of effective organizations to find and support the best, results-driven projects in the world’s most wild and threatened ecosystems.

Microsoft’s AI for Earth program supports organizations who are working to solve global environmental challenges using artificial intelligence.

To further their missions, LDF and Microsoft are collaborating on the AI for Earth innovation grant to support applicants in creating and deploying open source machine learning models, algorithms, and data sets that directly tackle environmental problems faced by the world today.

AI for Earth Innovation Grant Priorities:

With the latest IPCC Special Report outlining the level and urgency of broad action required to prevent global temperatures from exceeding 1.5 degrees, we would like to request a call for proposals that can deliver impactful solutions to immediate matters in the following four categories:

· Climate change
· Biodiversity conservation
· Agriculture
· Water

Applications that also include the following will be prioritized for review:

· Demonstration that the work will lead to implementation of proposed solution (whether directly by applicant or in collaboration with others);

· Solutions that are developed in and/or will be implemented in developing countries or underserved geographies;

· Solutions that demonstrate ability to rapidly scale and create lasting impact.


Proposal requests can be up to $100,000, for support over one year only. In addition to financial support, successful proposals will receive free access to AI for Earth API’s, applications, tools, and tutorials, and support for their computational work on Microsoft Azure. Applicants must demonstrate a plan for continued support of the work beyond the grant period.

Applicants must consider how to utilize AI for global environmental impact in at least one of the following core categories:  

Biodiversity conservation: Species are going extinct at alarming rates, and our planet’s oceans and last wild places need protection. We would like to see how AI can help, particularly in the following areas:

· Protected area identification, management and restoration
· Sustainable supply chain management
· Illegal trade and poaching control Wildlife tracking and ecosystem health monitoring
· Realizing natural capital (including valuing natural capital, species identification)

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. We would like to see how AI can help, particularly in the following areas

· Climate resilience
· Extreme weather and climate modeling
· Measuring carbon sequestration through natural climate solutions
· Pollution monitoring and reporting on air quality
· More efficient energy and transportation systems

Agriculture: To feed the world’s rapidly growing population, farmers must produce more food on less arable land, and with lower environmental impact. We would like to see how AI can help, particularly in the following areas

· Sustainable land use planning and management
· Natural resource conservation
· Sustainable, closed loop food systems
· Climate-resilient, regenerative agriculture
· Food recovery

Water: In the next two decades, demand for fresh water—for human consumption, agriculture, and hygiene, as well as for the well-being of natural systems and species—is predicted to dramatically outpace supply. We would like to see how AI can help, particularly in the following areas

· Beneficial water supply strategies for human and natural systems
· Water quality and sanitation
· Water source monitoring
· Water use efficiency
· Extreme-event (droughts, floods, disasters, etc.) water management

For more examples of projects, refer to Microsoft AI for Earth APIs and applications.

Project Requirements:

All models supported through this grant must be open source, and grant recipients must be willing to share their models for use by other environmental researchers and innovators. More specifically: 

(1) Grant recipients must make their solutions available for publication on the AI for Earth website through a designated open source license; 

(2) Grant recipients must make the training data on which their solutions are developed publicly available in standard digital format; 

(3) Grant recipients must include with their solutions a standard description template, including information on the machine learning data on which the solution was trained, summary statistics about solution performance, example use cases, and a disclaimer about the prototype nature of the solution; and 

(4) Grant recipients must implement and deploy their solutions on Microsoft Azure.

Applicant Qualifications:

Applicants must be nonprofit organizations or academic institutions. We recommend that the main applicant has a demonstrated background in environmental science and/or technology, and we require that at least one member of the team has strong enough technical skills (such as machine learning, statistical data analysis, scientific modeling, software development, and/or remote sensing) to complete the proposed project successfully.

Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation believe great ideas spring from a diversity of experiences, and thus encourage applications from all over the world.


The AI for Earth innovators grant will begin accepting applications beginning May 21, 2019. The application period will close on July 31 2019 at 11:59pm PST. Only applications received during this period will be accepted.

Applicants will be reviewed and awarded within 2-3 months of application close. It is anticipated that the selected projects will commence on January 1, 2020 and will be completed by December 31, 2020.

Please note this RFP application, deadline, and anticipated project timeline is different from other LDF grant programs.

Click to apply.

Microsoft AI for Earth Grant

Microsoft AI for Earth Grant

Microsoft AI for Earth

Are you interested in securing a grant for your AI project? Then this is your opportunity.

The Microsoft AI for Earth program awards grants to support projects that changes the way people and organizations monitor, model and ultimately manage earth’s natural systems.

Depending on the project need, the grants can award Microsoft Azure cloud computing resources (including AI tools) and/or data labelling services. Microsoft says “Grantees receive access to and training on Microsoft’s innovative data science, machine learning, and visualization tools to improve their work in addressing climate change, protecting biodiversity, improving agricultural yields, and lessening water scarcity

Check out some of the grantees working on projects in Kenya and Uganda.

Microsoft AI for Earth Program details

AI for Earth grants provide access to advanced Microsoft Azure Cloud computing resources. To support projects that change the way people and organizations monitor, model, and ultimately manage Earth’s natural systems.

Types of grants

Currently AI for Earth provides two types of grants. Each round, you can apply to either, or both, depending on your project needs.

Data Labeling services:

An important prerequisite for most AI projects is having an accurately labeled dataset to train your model on. Thus, we provide grants to help label key datasets in our four environmental focus areas. All datasets that are labeled through our grants program are hosted on Azure and made publicly available to other organizations and individuals for training models. The amount granted is dependent on size of datasets and difficulty of labeling.

Azure compute credits:

If you already have access to labeled dataset and are ready to start computing in the cloud and accessing Azure AI tools, this grant provides you with Azure compute credits worth $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000 (depending on your project scope and needs.) By being a member of the AI for Earth grantee community, you also have access to additional resources (technical advice and support, online Azure training materials, as well as invitations to the AI for Earth Summit for networking and education opportunities).

The grant program accepts proposals on a rolling basis. It accepts environmental projects with focus areas on agriculture, biodiversity, water and climate change. Proposals are reviewed four times a year. For more information on the initiative and how to apply, visit the Microsoft AI for Earth grant page.

Kenya and Uganda projects receive Microsoft and National Geographic AI for Earth Innovation Grant

Kenya and Uganda projects receive Microsoft and National Geographic AI for Earth Innovation Grant

3 Kenyan and Ugandan projects receive Microsoft and National Geographic AI for Earth Innovation Grant to support research and scientific discovery with AI technologies.

Microsoft announces new recipients of its AI for Earth Innovation award. A joint $1.2M grant program offered by Microsoft and National Geographic to 11 grantees. AI for Earth is designed to advance the use of Artificial Intelligence in scientific exploration and research to help solve critical environmental challenges.

Out of more than 200 applications received, 3 projects from Africa were included in the 11 chosen projects to recieve funding. These are led by changemakers; Ketty Adoch, Torsten Bondo and Stephanie Dolrenry. They  will receive financial support, access to Microsoft cloud and AI tools, inclusion in the National Geographic Explorer community and affiliation with National Geographic Labs.

The Microsoft and National Geographic AI for Earth Innovation Grant winners will use these resources to support their projects and better protect the planet.

Microsoft shares that the new grant offering will support research and scientific discovery with AI technologies to advance agriculture, biodiversity conservation, climate change and water.

Below are profiles of the winning grant projects;

Ketty Adoch 
Geographical information systems specialist from Uganda. Her AI for Earth Innovation Grant project will detect, quantify and monitor land cover change in the area surrounding Lake Albert and Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda’s largest and oldest national park.

Stephanie Dolrenry 
Director of Wildlife Guardians, based in Washington, D.C. Her team will use the AI for Earth Innovation Grant to help support the Lion Identification Network of Collaborators, an AI-assisted collaborative database for lion identification and interorganizational research.

Torsten Bondo
Business development manager and senior remote sensing engineer at DHI GRAS in Denmark. With the AI for Earth Innovation Grant, his team aims to use machine learning and satellites to support irrigation development and improve crop water efficiency in Uganda together with the Ugandan geo-information company Geo Gecko. The goal is to contribute to food security, poverty alleviation and economic growth.

Previous beneficiaries of the Microsoft AI for Earth grant are Peace Parks Foundation, South Africa, International Center for tropical Agriculture, Kenya, I.T.Grapes, Tunisia, Energyrathon Consulting Ltd, Nigeria, etc.

How Microsoft and National Geographic AI for Earth Innovation Grantee is detecting land cover changes in Uganda.

“Ketty Adoch is working to address competition between preserving iconic species and mining natural resources in the same area. A huge advocate for applying technology tools to geographic data, she will use supervised classification and machine learning on satellite images to detect changes in the shape or size of land cover types, like shadows from changing tree cover. She’ll conduct these analyses both historically and, once promising algorithms have been developed, on an ongoing basis for the coming decade.
The key outcomes — algorithms and maps to document the findings — will enable researchers, conservationists and technologists to monitor land cover change in the area, see the impact of oil activities and support conservation efforts going forward.”

Microsoft AI for Good Lab comes to Kenya, Egypt

Microsoft AI for Good Lab comes to Kenya, Egypt

Microsoft is announcing plans to build a new team of data scientists on the ground in Africa to work to improve climate resilience, by setting up AI for Good Labs in Nairobi, Kenya, and Cairo, Egypt. This will be the company’s first global expansion of the AI for Good Lab. The new team will work with local partners to use AI on new climate initiatives.

Currently, statistics show that for every five data scientists in the Global North there is one in the Global South. In Africa the situation is dire and the gap is wider. For every data scientist in Africa, there are 14 in the Global North. This means a gap in the available reliable data to work with. As well as being able to turn them into insights for the decision-makers to use. This is why Microsoft is planning to open AI for Good Labs in Africa to help close that divide.

As world and business leaders gather in Egypt for COP27, Juan Lavista Ferres, Chief Data Scientist, AI for Good, Microsoft, reveals Microsoft’s plans to close the climate data divide in the Global South. The work of the Labs he notes will be informed by the Microsoft Africa AI Innovation Council. Another new establishment by Microsoft in partnership with representatives from African organizations such as the AfDB, and African Climate Foundation.

We see these days ahead as an opportunity to engage in important discussions and take steps toward solutions. Today we are sharing details about our work to support new climate solutions. By harnessing the power of data and artificial intelligence (AI), with an expansion of our AI for Good Research Lab into Egypt and Kenya.

Juan Lavista Ferres
AI for Good Lab, 
peson wearing a Microsoft HoloLens with streched hand and standing of a desk monitor  showing what the person is seeing in the mixed reality device

Access to reliable climate data is critical to inform decision-making and avoid the worst effects of climate change“, says Wael El Kabbany, General Manager, Africa Regional Cluster, Microsoft. “We believe these labs will be significant in closing the climate data divide“, he adds.

Microsoft AI for Good Lab

The Microsoft AI for Good Lab consists of data scientists and researchers who use AI, Machine Learning, and statistical modeling to address human challenges. Across the AI for Good program portfolio—Earth, Accessibility, Humanitarian Action, Cultural Heritage, and Health. They work on issues that improve societies and environments with a focus on sustainability.

Juan adds that Microsoft “will work to scale AI for Good projects and support startups in the region to deliver new AI innovations“. Africa-based data scientists will have access to satellite imagery thanks to a partnership between Microsoft and Plant Labs. To address challenges nominated by the Africa AI Innovation Council with a special focus on adaptation and early warning systems.

 The new Microsoft AI for Good labs in the region will bring in new jobs as it hires data scientists and researchers with experience in computer vision, statistics, and artificial intelligence.

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2022 Imagine Cup Junior AI for Good Challenge winners

2022 Imagine Cup Junior AI for Good Challenge winners

Microsoft is announcing the winners of the 2022 Imagine Cup Junior artificial intelligence (AI) for Good Challenge. The competition is an extension of the Microsoft Imagine Cup world championship. Targeting junior and secondary school students aged 13 to 18. It encourages educators to embrace new technologies like AI and machine learning and then provide these experiences to their students. It also seeks to help students develop skills like communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity.

Students learn the fundamentals of AI and Machine Learning as well as the application of AI in real life. They also learn Deep Learning, Neural networks and AI for Good.

2022 imagine cup junior AI for good challenge winners

Out of thousands of participants from across the globe, ten teams are global winners. Submitting creative ideas that look to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges using the power of AI.
Out of thousands of participants from across the globe, ten teams are global winners. Submitting creative ideas that look to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges using the power of artificial intelligence (AI).

At Microsoft, we’re always impressed by the creativity in the solutions submitted by the future generation of students. Every student who took part brought their heart to their projects, which really came through to all of the judges.”

Rick Herrmann, Vice President Worldwide Public Sector Education

Here are the top 10 global winners and their creative concepts.

2022 Microsoft Imagine Cup Junior AI for Good Challenge winners

ARISE, Nepal.
ARISE is an AI-driven interactive application promoting accessibility for chemistry laboratory equipment using motion and augmented reality.

AutoCrab, Hong Kong.
AutoCrab is an AI sensor to monitor and regulate water quality in hairy crab aquafarms.

Clean Up Crew, Australia.
Clean Up Crew is an all-in-one AI device that collects and sorts waste materials into appropriate categories for proper recycling.

Earthatarian, United Kingdom.
Earthatarian is an AI-powered application to reduce food waste by predicting the ‘actual expiry’ of stocked food items and monitoring food consumption.

HACKRR, Philippines.
WTFact is a fact-checking browser extension that utilizes AI to detect fake news and make internet users aware of online mis- and dis-information.

NeuSparks, China.
NeuSparks uses Azure AI and Machine Learning to transcribe folk music recordings into digital format (MIDI) that can be easily transmitted and assist in sheet music creation and re-composition.

Sea Waste Scavengers, Indonesia.
This AI concept is a ship fully powered by electricity from hydro and solar energy that tracks, locates, and captures plastic garbage and delivers it to a recycling plant. 

SkyLine Humanitarian, Vietnam.
This AI-integrated mobile application connects hospitals and blood donors by blood type while encouraging potential new blood donors by spreading awareness.

Team Sensory Metaverse, India.
Sensory Metaverse is a VR concept with a headset and a body suit that helps users not only see but feel virtual reality.

VORA, United States.
VORA is a visual object recognition aid for the visually impaired.

Interested in starting a journey of learning AI? Check out these helpful resources: Microsoft Learn for StudentsMakeCodeMinecraft Hour of Code AI tutorial, and Hacking STEM. For students older than 16 who want to take their learning even further, register for the Imagine Cup Collegiate Challenge and apply to be a Microsoft Learn Student Ambassador

Check out what’s new on our YouTube channel. Subscribe to follow for the latest videos and news in the ecosystem.

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