IRCAI Global Top 100

World’s Most Promising Artificial Intelligence Projects Advancing United Nations SDGs


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.

IRCAI is a new UNESCO affiliated AI center with emphasis on its potential for application in addressing the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a technological force rarely seen in history. It has advanced so rapidly in the last five years that the promise of widespread practical and commercially feasible solutions is currently being realized. What was science-fiction just a few years ago, is in common use by consumers or businesses around the world today. 81% of leading CEOs believe that AI will have a high or significant impact on their industry within the next five years. The AI market size is rising to $100bn in 2025 and $2.1 trillion in 2035. The world is lagging on basically every single one of the SDGs, despite its estimated market value of $12 trillion by 2030.

At IRCAI 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 on 10 of the most compelling cases and breakthrough solutions among hundreds of Artificial Intelligence projects with a focus on Sustainable Development impact.

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.


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

IRCAI wants to publish 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 is 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 May 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 May 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. 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 August 2020/21 where our top candidates will be presented to all UNESCO Member States!


Submission period: 10/02/2021 – 30/05/2021
Shortlist: by end of June 2021
Preparation for final presentation: July 2021

Report announcement: Decision letters will be sent out approximately three weeks after the submission deadline.
Report ceremony: An event will be held in September 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 May 2020.
  • Applicants will be informed of the results of the evaluation within 3 weeks of the submission deadline.


Applicants should use the IRCAI electronic submission system to submit their proposal.  The deadline for electronic submissions is 30 May 2021 at 17:00 (CET).


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.


Jožef Stefan Institute
Jamova cesta 39
SI-1000 Ljubljana


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