This program selects and fully funds proof of concepts of new ideas leveraging advanced cloud computing and AI to solve some of the biggest challenges in the fight against climate change. It is a new program to fund Climate Tech startups’ R&D projects that need a great deal of cloud computing. Startups at any stage can apply, they just need to have a tech team capable of building with advanced computing services.

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).

It supports entrepreneurs and 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), 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.

What kind of startups and POCs should apply?

The Compute for Climate Fellowship will accept proposals that address at least one of the six climate crisis problem areas:
1) Climate risk and resilience
2) Food security
3) Biodiversity and conservation
4) Climate-related health
5) Circular economy
6) ESG analytics

Proposals for proof of concepts must incorporate innovative and high impact uses of advanced computing services such as Quantum Computing, AI/ML, 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 six problem 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 six problem areas.

What is the application process?

  • Applications for the Compute for Climate Fellowship open July 25th and will be considered on a rolling basis.
  • Startups must submit applications by the deadline of 11:59pm September 15th 2023, in order to be considered for a PoC build in 2023.
  • Applications submitted on September 16th 2023 or thereafter will be considered for 2024.

How will the program work?

  1. Startups can apply to the fellowship on a rolling basis. Only applications submitted before the deadline of 11:59pm September 15th 2023 will be considered to be built in 2023.
  2. IRCAI and AWS will select proposals based on the criteria above. Proposals will be selected on a rolling basis. Startups will be notified if their proposal is selected.
  3. When a proposal is selected, the startup will be accepted into the fellowship and will start a 2-3 months build of the proof of concept (PoC).
  4. The Fellowship will pair selected startups with a team of technical mentors and domain expert researchers who are experts from AWS and IRCAI who can advise on the design and build of the proof of concept over 2-3 months.
  5. AWS will provide cloud credits to cover the cost of building and testing the PoC. Once the PoC has been completed the startups will be responsible for covering the costs of running it.
  6. The IRCAI Committees on AI & Healthcare and AI & Climate Change, and experts in the Global Network of AI Excellence Centers in AI and Sustainable Development will provide the R&D expertise.
  7. The startups will do the hands-on keyboard building. The IRCAI and AWS mentors will advise on design and execution. The startups will own the IP that results from the PoC.

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 free workshops to help them learn how to build with AWS Advanced Computing services, and the IRCAI industrial club.

Terms and conditions of the Fellowship

  • 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.


Submission period: 25 July 2023 – 15 September 2023 in order to be considered for a PoC build in 2023

Shortlist: by end of September 2023

Submission period: 16 September 2023 onward will be considered for a PoC build in 2024

Report announcement: Decision letters will be sent out approximately three weeks after the submission deadline.

Report ceremony: An AWS event will be held in November 2023, and an IRCAI event in February 2024.


  • Potential applicants should send their questions to
  • 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 28 August 2023.
  • We expect to inform applicants of the results of the evaluation within 3 weeks of the submission deadline.




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

Jožef Stefan Institute
Jamova cesta 39
SI-1000 Ljubljana


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.

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