IRCAI Global Top 100


Applicants should use the IRCAI electronic submission system to submit their proposal.  The deadline for electronic submissions is 30 June 2021 at 17:00 (CET).  Due to an overwhelming number of applications we are extending the deadline for electronic submissions to 31 August 2021 at 17:00 (CET).


How to get involved in the IRCAI Global Top 100 list 2021?

The International Research Centre in Artificial Intelligence under the auspices of UNESCO is launching a call for proposals for listing the Top 100 projects solving problems related to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals with the application of Artificial Intelligence.

We wish to contribute to the SDGs by making the world’s largest sustainable solutions platform even more effective and impactful. In 2021, IRCAI will produce a special report showcasing 10 of the most compelling cases and breakthrough solutions among Artificial Intelligence projects with a focus on Sustainable Development impact. These top 10 projects will also receive support with training, advisory, networking and mentoring activities across IRCAI partners.

The IRCAI Global Top 100 list wants to empower those entrepreneurs, thinkers and researchers, and specifically projects using AI that otherwise could not reach visibility in global markets, have a meaningful impact or have a voice. This call for proposals is open to all United Nations five geographical regions: Africa, Americas, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Central Asia, and the Middle East.

We are partnering with Village Capital which will support the Top 10 projects with an investment readiness training session and Social Finance which will provide training on innovative finance and outcome measurement (inc. Social Impact Bonds). Together, we can unlock the potential of Artificial Intelligence and use it to solve problems related to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.


The target is to identify the Global Top 100 projects and create a Top 10 report.

IRCAI wants to publish a list of Top 100 projects and a report with vetted and verified top 10 best in class sustainable development and social impact solutions in AI to celebrate the leaders that make change possible and describe the mindset and strategies that drive them in their work.

The Report will be structured as a high visibility opportunity and relevance with focus to specific usages of AI. We aim to showcase the state-of-the art solutions that need already be proof of concepts in some of the most challenging and exciting problems in Development with Artificial Intelligence, not only in the Global South but the Global North as well.


Put forward a nomination for your project.

We are looking to showcase applications in all 17 SDGs, however we specifically encourage applications on the following topics and themes:
Category 1 – Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Category 2 – Goal 4: Quality Education – Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning
Category 3 – Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure – Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Category 4 – Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities – Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Category 5 – Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Category 6 – Goal 13: Climate Action – Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Cross-cutting Priorities:
Category 7 – Goal 5: Gender Equality – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Category 8 – Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities – Reduce inequality within and among countries

As it is difficult to pinpoint AI solutions the address only one SDG, we would organize the prizes around the following themes:
Theme 1 – Education (SDG 4)
Theme 2 – Healthcare (SDG 3)
Theme 3 – Climate (SDG 13)
Theme 4 – Assistive technologies (SDG 11, 12, 9)
Theme 5 – Circular Economy (SDG 11, 12, 9)


Accepting projects and solutions from all the Worlds regions.

We are specifically looking to showcase solutions solving directly or indirectly one or more problems in Sustainable Development, including research novelties implemented in those solutions. We welcome applicants from:

  • Projects and solutions across all UN regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Northern America, and Oceania.
  • With a strong Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence or Data Science component, in any discipline of science.
  • With a strong emphasis on producing solutions in one or more than one Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Reaching tangible results and deliverable outcomes by the end of June 2021 August 2021.


There are 4 broad and overall criteria we will be looking at in the application

IRCAI will make the final decisions based on the potential implementation and impact of the AI solution in the sustainable development community, and quality of the scientific and solution content. These will be taken into consideration in the broad criteria listed below.

  • Sustainable Development: Centrality of AI to delivering the solution
  • Impact: The potential impact on the particular SDG(s) either in measuring its KPIs or delivering systems that will improve them
  • Implementation: The demonstration of the potential in the work completed as either a proof of concept or research work completed
  • Ethics: Ethical Design of the AI


Programme Committees might hold additional interviews with the applicants

General Questions (these may not apply to all candidates):

  • Tell us why your AI solution and no one else can ensure the best outcome for solving a particular Sustainable Development problem. Expect to mention originality and initiative
  • How and when will one be able to measure the significance of the impact of your solution on society?
  • What difference to your normal day-to-day business would make being included in the top 10 list of the IRCAI Report?


We assembled a team of independent and impartial judges

After the nomination window closes on 30 June 2021 31 July 2021, nominations will be sent to the relevant IRCAI Programme Committees for initial sifting. The panels will each review, categorize and list nominations in each category to go forward into the final list in July 2021 August 2021. All champions in the Top 10 will be invited to deliver a pitch at the IRCAI press conference in Paris, France or Ljubljana, Slovenia in September 2021 where our top candidates will be presented to all UNESCO Member States!


Submission period: 01/04/2021 – 30/06/2021  31/08/2021
Shortlist: by end of July 2021  by the end of September 2021
Preparation for final presentation: August 2021  October 2021

Report announcement: Decision letters will be sent out approximately three weeks after the submission deadline.
Report ceremony: An event will be held in October 2021, depending on the COVID-19 pandemic when Top 10 presentations will be made at a press conference.


  • Potential applicants should send their questions to
  • The email subject should be “IRCAI Global Top 100 report”. 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 25 June 2021 25 August 2021.
  • Applicants will be informed of the results of the evaluation within 3 weeks of the submission deadline.


This call is being organized by IRCAI in close collaboration with Knowledge 4 All Foundation, UNESCO Chair in Artificial Intelligence (University College London, UK) with the generous support of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, Ministry of Education, Science and Sport.


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

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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