Microsoft and National Geographic team up on AI research grant

They’re awarding $1 million to projects addressing environmental challenges.

Microsoft and National Geographic are partnering on a new grant program that will put $1 million towards projects using AI to address environmental challenges. Between five and 15 projects will be selected as recipients of the AI for Earth Innovation Grant program and winning researchers will receive funding, access to Microsoft cloud and AI tools, inclusion in the National Geographic Explorer Community and affiliation with National Geographic Labs.

"Microsoft is constantly exploring the boundaries of what technology can do, and what it can do for people and the world," Lucas Joppa, chief environmental scientist at Microsoft, said in a statement. "We believe that humans and computers, working together through AI, can change the way that society monitors, models and manages Earth's natural systems." In a similar vein, Google just announced a partnership with UN Environment that will provide real-time data to organizations and governments about the impact of human activity on ecosystems.

Grant applications are open to researchers now and will remain open through October 8th. Projects should focus on biodiversity conservation, climate change, agriculture or water and funding requests must be $200,000 or less. Any models generated through the grant's provided resources must be made open source so that other researchers can use the tools as well. Recipients will be announced in December.