IRCAI & AWS COMPUTE FOR CLIMATE FELLOWSHIP

This global program selects and fully funds proof of concepts of new ideas leveraging
advanced cloud computing and AI to fight the climate change.

What is the Compute for Climate Fellowship?

The Compute for Climate Fellowship is a global program run by the International Research Centre on Artificial Intelligence (IRCAI), an organization under the auspices of UNESCO, and Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS).

Founded in 2023, it is a first-of-its-kind program to fund Climate Tech startups’ R&D projects that need a great deal of cloud computing. Startups at any stage and in any country can apply. Startups just need to have completed company formation and have a tech team capable of building with advanced computing services.

It supports startups applying advanced cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) to create new solutions that address the climate crisis. The Compute for Climate Fellowship will select innovative ideas and fully fund the design and building of their proof of concepts (PoC).

When a startup is selected for the fellowship, they will engage in a 2-3 month build with 1:1 advice from mentors and AWS credits to cover the AWS service costs of the build. Both IRCAI and AWS will provide selected startups with a team of mentors who are experts in AI, sustainability and ethics.

Startups will get access to advanced computing services, such as quantum computing, high performance computing (HPC), artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), Generative AI and AWS credits to cover the build of the PoC. In addition, all PoCs will be designed under the guidelines of UNESCO’s Ethics Impact Assessment for Artificial Intelligence to ensure that each solution is built with safe, trustworthy technology.

Announcing the 2023 Compute for Climate Fellowship winners

The 2023 selection process was very competitive. We received applications from 24 countries and choose four Fellows, a 5.7% acceptance rate. Our finalists include startups working on solutions that feature fusion energy, ocean carbon measurement reporting and verification (MRV), water purifying chemicals, and drought resilient crops. These four startups are building truly innovative projects that have the potential to significantly advance the fight against climate change.

Chairs of the Fellowship Programme

Lisbeth Kaufman

Lisbeth Kaufman

AWS Head of Climate Tech – Startups & Venture Capital

DAVOR ORLIČ

DAVOR ORLIČ

Chief Operation Officer, IRCAI

Nelson R Gonzalez

Nelson R Gonzalez

AWS Head of Global Impact Computing

Aidan O'Sullivan

Aidan O'Sullivan

Associate Professor in Energy and AI at UCL

What kind of startups and POCs should apply?

The Compute for Climate Fellowship will accept proposals that address at least one of these eight solution areas to address the climate crisis:

1. Clean Energy
2. Low-Carbon Transportation
3. Sustainable Agriculture and Food
4. Circular Economy / Manufacturing / Industry
5. Sustainable Buildings
6. Greenhouse Gas accounting and sustainability management
7. Carbon removal
8. Environment (water, pollution, biodiversity) and climate risk

Proposals for proof of concepts must incorporate innovative and high impact uses of advanced computing services such as Quantum Computing, AI/ML, Generative AI, High-Performance Computing, Autonomous Computing, Spatial Computing, and Simulation Technologies. Proposals must be scoped so that they can be built in 2-3 months.

Startups applying must be private companies started within the last 10 years. The teams must have expertise in one of the solution areas and must have technical teams capable of building with advanced cloud computing. Startups must also demonstrate product-market fit so that they have the best chance of success commercializing the PoC.

AWS and IRCAI under the auspices of UNESCO will select the proposals that think big, have the most innovative use of advanced cloud computing and can have the biggest, broadest global impact on the eight problem areas.

What is the application process?

  • Applications for the Compute for Climate Fellowship open in March 2024.
  • Startups must submit applications by the deadline of 11:59pm June 21st 2024, in order to be considered for a PoC build in summer 2024.
  • Applications submitted after June 21st 2024 will be considered for 2025.
  • The Fellowship selection committee will review all applications and select a group of finalists to interview in by July 19th, 2024.
  • The selection committee will choose the winning Fellows from the finalists and will notify them by September 2, 2024.

How will the program work?

  1. Applications for the 2024 fellowship are due June 21st 2024
  2. IRCAI and AWS will select proposals based on the criteria above.
  3. In July Startups will be notified if their proposal is selected as a finalist and will be invited to interview.
  4. By September 2, 2024, startups will be notified if they have been selected as winners of the fellowship.
  5. When a proposal is selected, the startup will be accepted into the fellowship.
  6. The Fellowship will pair selected startups with a POC team of technical mentors and domain expert researchers from AWS and IRCAI.
  7. The first month of the fellowship will include an exercise with the POC team to design the POC based on the startup’s proposal. That will include a scoping process to assess the technical resources and credits needed.
  8. Based on the scope of the POC, the AWS POC team will submit the requisite number of credits request to fund the build. It may take a few weeks for the startups to receive the credits.
  9. Once credits are approved the Startup will start a 2-3 months build of the proof of concept (PoC) with the advice and help from their AWS and IRCAI team. During this time the credits will cover all cloud costs associated with the POC. The startups will do the hands-on keyboard building. The AWS and IRCAI mentors will advise on design and execution. The startups will own the IP that results from the PoC.
  10. Once the PoC build has been completed the startups will be responsible for covering the costs of running it on AWS.
  11. Throughout the fellowship AWS and IRCAI will work on promotional opportunities through AWS channels, IRCAI channels, and the press.

What happens if you are not selected for the fellowship?

Startups that apply and are not selected will get access to $5k in AWS Activate Credits. They will also be invited to join the IRCAI industrial club.

Terms and conditions of the Fellowship

  • Startups must be private companies that have gone through company formation. Startups can be located in any country globally.
  • Selected startups will bring at least one advanced compute workload to production on the AWS cloud, with the help of IRCAI scientific mentors and AWS technical expert mentors.
  • Startups chosen for the fellowship must complete the PoC within 2-4 months, or the time-line scoped in partnership with their IRCAI scientific mentors and AWS technical expert mentors.
  • AWS will offer free credits to cover the cost of the PoC build during the scoped time-line. After the build is complete and/or the scoped timeline is over, the startups will pay for the cost of running it on AWS.
  • Selected startups will be responsible for building the PoC. IRCAI scientific mentors and AWS technical expert mentors will advise on the design of the PoC, but will not build it. The startups will own IP resulting from the POC.
  • Selected startups will also author/co-author a blog outlining the results of the PoC, serve as IRCAI and AWS public references, and participate in workshop/conference sessions.

TIMELINE

March 2024 – Applications open for the 2024 fellowship.

June 21, 2024 – Application deadline for the 2024 fellowship.

Applications submitted after June 21st, 2024 will be considered for the 2025 fellowship.

July 19, 2024 – Finalists will be notified.

September 2, 2024 – Decision letters will be sent out to winning fellows and non-winning applicants.

October – December 2024 – 2024 Fellows will build POCs.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

  • Potential applicants should send their questions to info@ircai.org
  • The email subject should be “IRCAI AWS Fellowship”. Only questions sent to this mailbox will be answered. Answers will be published periodically and within a reasonable period of time on the IRCAI webpage. The deadline for submitting questions related to this call is June 20t 2024.
  • We expect to inform applicants of the results of the evaluation by September 2, 2024.

ORGANIZED BY

SUPPORTED BY

HumaneAI
ELISE

CONTACT

International Research Centre
on Artificial Intelligence (IRCAI)
under the auspices of UNESCO 

Jožef Stefan Institute
Jamova cesta 39
SI-1000 Ljubljana

info@ircai.org
ircai.org

FOLLOW US

The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this website do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

Design by Ana Fabjan