National Geographic Society/Microsoft AI for Earth Innovation – Up to $100k + Azure Compute Credits – Applications Due: October 21, 2020

Wed, Oct 21, 2020, 11:59 pm
Life Sciences
Social Sciences
Various Research Areas


The National Geographic Society and Microsoft’s AI for Earth program are partnering to support novel projects that create and deploy AI tools to improve the way we monitor, model, and ultimately manage Earth’s natural systems for a more sustainable future.

The grants given by the partnership will support projects that create and deploy open source trained models and algorithms that make key analytical processes more efficient in the environmental field. As an additional opportunity, Microsoft will help the successful proposals make the completed models available for use by other environmental researchers and innovators.

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. Proposed work should create generalizable, scalable tools that use AI for conservation in at least one of the following core areas.

Fields of Research:

Biodiversity – Biodiversity around the world is rapidly declining. AI can help us understand and address challenges such as these: 

Land-use planning and management

  • Human-wildlife conflict
  • Invasive species introduction and spread
  • Habitat loss, including agricultural and urban encroachment
  • Species discovery, identification, and distribution
  • Wildlife poaching and trafficking

Climate change –  Countries and communities around the world are engaged in climate resilience, adaptation, and mitigation efforts. AI can help in areas such as:

  • Understanding and quantifying carbon sequestration
  • Monitoring and understanding afforestation/reforestation efforts
  • Identifying fire risks and ways to mitigate damage
  • Extreme weather and climate modeling
  • Sustainable land-use change
  • Resilience to impacts caused by extreme events (e.g., droughts, floods, other natural disasters)


  • All models supported through this grant must be open source, and grant recipients must be willing to publicly share their models for use by other environmental researchers and their data for use by the National Geographic Society.
  • All applicants and grantees must meet the Application, Project Leadership, Age Restrictions, Citizenship, Current Grant Restrictions, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Compliance, and Award Guidelines and Requirements published on the Eligibility tab of the grants portal, regardless of which grant type they are pursuing.


$5,000 to $100,000 over one year. In addition to financial support, successful proposals will receive free access to AI for Earth APIs, applications, tools, and tutorials, and support for their computational work on Microsoft Azure.


You must apply to National Geographic AI for Earth Innovation grants using the online application in the grants portal. Before you apply, please read the details and requirements of the grant for which you are applying, as well as the eligibility information. You are expected to fully understand these details when you submit your application. 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. Not sure which category your project falls into? Take the quiz.

To apply for Microsoft AI for Earth Azure Compute Credits, view this page.

To strengthen your proposal, consider building a multidisciplinary team that spans technology and environmental science. For example, pair an expert capable of creating and deploying an open-source model or tool with an environmental research specialist who could use that model or tool to address a pressing habitat loss question. The sponsors require that at least one member of your team has demonstrated technical skills (such as in machine learning, statistical data analysis, scientific modeling, software development, and/or remote sensing) to successfully complete the proposed project.

The budgets of successful proposals will include reasonable, well-justified costs directly required to complete the project. Please see the Preparing Your Proposal page regarding budgetary guidance, including stipend eligibility, and justify all budget requests in detail. You can also download a sample application for each project focus area—conservation, education, research, storytelling, or technology to help you prepare. Please review the individual grant agreement or institutional grant agreement you will sign if awarded funding.

For more examples of projects that combine human ingenuity and AI technology to solve some of the biggest environmental challenges of our time, refer to the current National Geographic AI for Earth Innovation projects and Microsoft AI for Earth APIs and applications.

NOTE: Process/budget questions which arise should be directed to ORPA and the proposal should be routed following the standard Princeton proposal process (Coeus, etc.)

Due Dates:

The deadline to submit a proposal is October 21, 2020.

Categories: Open Call RFPs