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.

Kenyan company, Upepo Technology, Receives Microsoft Grant for Innovation in Water

Kenyan company, Upepo Technology, Receives Microsoft Grant for Innovation in Water

Upepo Technology recieves Microsoft AI for Earth grant.

Upepo Technology

Upepo Technology Company Limited, a Kenyan technology firm has become the latest recipient of Microsoft’s AI for Earth grant. The award from Microsoft is to help the company extend its innovative developments. Upepo joins 21 other Microsoft AI for Earth grantees across Africa.

Upepo Technology Company Limited provides intelligent water management solutions that support water utilities and water community associations. It also provides support to large abstractors of surface and ground water including agricultural enterprises, industries and commercial property owners to accurately measure and manage water while predicting future trends in consumption.

Microsoft’s AI for Earth program aims at empowering people and organization to solve global environmental challenges. Microsoft provides them with artificial intelligence to solve issues related to water, agriculture, biodiversity and climate change. Through grants Microsoft provides access to cloud and AI tools. As well as opportunities for education and training on AI and investments in innovative and scalable solutions.

This important grant from Microsoft is a turning point” says Kevin Kihara, Upepo’s CEO. He also says Microsoft services such as “Azure Cloud, IoT and AI resources will help develop products to mitigate water losses“. These loses Kevin Kihara says, “directly contribute to large and excessive surface and ground water withdrawals” which are “detrimental to the supply of water for communities living downstream“.

Conserving and improving access to Kenya’s water supply

Kenya Water Service Regulatory Board (WASREB) shares that water access rates in Kenya have stood at 55% the last three years. It believes by adopting technology and enhancing infrastructure a 30% reduction in non-revenue water can be achieved by 2030. Saving up to Kes 80 billion for infrastructure expansion, enhanced supply and quality of water across Kenya.

Through Microsoft’s AI for Earth program, we are excited to partner with Upepo. As they develop innovative intelligent solutions that will both conserve and improve critical access to Kenya’s water supply.” – Ghada Khalifa

Ghada Khalifa, Philanthropies Regional Director for Microsoft Middle East and Africa says, “In the next two decades, demand for fresh water is predicted to dramatically outpace supply.”
Technologies such as the intelligent cloud and AI, Ghada says will model and measure the Earth’s water supply. To help us manage and protect fresh water.