AWS Startups Blog

AWS and IRCAI announce winners of the 2023 Compute For Climate Fellowship and open applications for 2024

Applications are open through June 7, 2024 for the first-of-its-kind program to fund proof of concepts for new ideas that leverage advanced cloud computing, including generative AI and high performance computing, to solve some of the biggest challenges in the fight against climate change.

How can the world speed up efforts to address the climate crisis? Climate change is already threatening lives and disrupting businesses through increased wildfire, extreme heat, flooding, sea-level rise, and drought. With the news that 2023 was the hottest year on record, the race is on to get to net-zero-greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.

Speed is critical to addressing the climate crisis before even more damage is done. Luckily, Climate Tech startups are inventing brilliant new technologies and business models to address the climate crisis. At AWS, we want to help Climate Tech startups move even faster with our advanced computing services, like high performance computing (HPC), artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML), and generative AI. That’s why in 2023 we launched the Compute for Climate Fellowship in partnership with the International Research Centre on Artificial Intelligence (IRCAI), an organization under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The Compute for Climate Fellowship is a first-of-its-kind global program to fund groundbreaking proof of concepts (POCs) that think big, innovatively use advanced cloud computing, and enable the world to more quickly address the climate crisis. We are thrilled to announce the startups accepted into the Compute for Climate Fellowship in 2023 and to share that we’ve opened applications for the 2024 fellowship, which can be submitted here.

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.

Coastal CarbonKelly Zheng, CEO of Coastal Carbon

The ocean is one of the world’s largest carbon sinks. Measuring sequestered ocean carbon can be the hardest and most expensive part of an ocean carbon project. Coastal Carbon is building AI models to solve that. The startup’s models can see underwater from satellites to track and measure underwater vegetation growth and how much carbon the vegetation captures. Their AWS-funded POC will use Amazon SageMaker and AWS HPC services to train satellite-agnostic foundation models of earth and sea that can identify and quantify ocean blue carbon. Their training corpus includes more than 50 years of geospatial data, which enables their AI models to generalize with greater accuracy. The Compute for Climate Fellowship POC will help Coastal Carbon increase transparency and trust in ocean carbon removal. They estimate that it will also facilitate up to a 1,000x increase in ocean monitoring and data collection capacity, which was previously done manually by divers and sensors.

“We have accelerated our product development thanks to this program, which has allowed us to make even bigger plans for the scale of Coastal Carbon,” said Kelly Zheng, CEO of Coastal Carbon. “Remediating climate change is urgent. A faster POC means more tonnes of carbon removed that is measurable, scalable, and affordable, with the highest scientific rigor.”

Coastal carbon mockup


With drought, flooding, and extreme heat disrupting agriculture worldwide, the world needs crops that can withstand the impacts of climate change. That’s where Phytoform comes in. Phytoform is operating at the edge of biotechnology, AI, and agriculture, developing novel crop genetics to create more climate resilient plants. As a winner of the Compute for Climate Fellowship, Phytoform will use the program to enhance the accuracy of CRE.AI.TIVE, their unique AI-powered pipeline that can draw novel insights from plant genomics, evolve new crop characteristics, and make plants more resilient. The POC will help Phytoform find new research and development (R&D) solutions for more climate resilient seeds at scale.

“The Compute for Climate Fellowship is absolutely crucial for Phytoform’s mission of improving sustainability in agriculture,” said Nicolas Kral, CTO of Phytoform. “With the help from AWS and IRCAI we were able to really accelerate our solution to deploy a unique approach to enhance R&D and secure the food of tomorrow.”

Realta Fusion

Realta Fusion is developing compact magnetic mirror fusion energy systems to decarbonize industrial process heat and power. Their aim is to create the fastest path to commercial deployment of fusion energy. Through the Compute for Climate Fellowship, Realta Fusion is developing the first-of-a-kind plasma stability simulation in the cloud by leveraging Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) HPC instances and Elastic Fabric Adapter. Plasma stability is a principal design requirement for fusion power plants. This is groundbreaking. Prior to this POC, there were only two super computers in the United States that could handle these simulations, and they are at National Labs with a year-long waitlist. With this POC, Realta Fusion will demonstrate that the plasma stability simulations can be run in the cloud, which will help democratize access for the whole fusion industry.

“Advances in AWS cloud computing have paved a new pathway for Realta Fusion to expedite research in magnetic confinement fusion energy systems.” said Cary Forest, PhD, co-founder and chief scientific officer at Realta Fusion. “Such intensive plasma physics simulations have never been done in the cloud before. The Realta Fusion team is grateful for this fellowship award and excited to use the power of cloud computing to advance fusion energy research.”

Realta Fusion at work

XatomsDiana Virgovicova, founder, XAtoms

Xatoms is a water treatment startup using AI and quantum computing to discover molecules of substances that can purify polluted water. Their Compute for Climate Fellowship POC is focused on creating a water purification technology that is both effective and affordable, aimed at assisting those who currently lack access to safe drinking water. Xatoms’s proposed POC will target end users in developing countries, particularly underserved communities lacking clean water access, aiming to reduce mortality rates and redirecting time spent fetching water towards education and entrepreneurship. Their POC will develop a new AI/ML algorithm capable of analyzing a large amount of chemical data, followed by simulations of novel molecules that can purify water. They will use AWS services like Amazon Braket for storage and quantum simulation software and Tangelo to accelerate the discovery process.

“The Compute for Climate Fellowship will significantly boost our material discovery efforts, thanks to the resources and mentorship provided,” said Diana Virgovicova, CEO of Xatoms. “We are proud to be backed by some of the biggest names in the industry, highlighting the urgency of addressing global water challenges affecting more than two billion people worldwide.”

Applications for 2024 Compute for Climate Fellowship are now open!

We are thrilled to share that startups can now apply for the 2024 Compute for Climate Fellowship here. Applications will be accepted until 11:59 pm June 7, 2024. Applications submitted after that date will be considered for the 2025 Compute for Climate Fellowship.

We are making a few changes to the fellowship this year to make it a resource for even more Climate Tech startups. Like last year, the program is global and startups from all countries around the world are invited to apply. This year, we are expanding the scope of proposals to address at least one of these eight solution areas:

  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

This year, we are looking for projects of various sizes and sophistication. AWS will fund up to $1.5M in total AWS credits for the Compute for Climate Fellowship. We will look for proposals that can be completed in 2-3 months and that think big, creating novel solutions to address the climate crisis.

Through the fellowship, IRCAI and AWS will provide global climate tech startups access to various technical resources to build their POCs, including:

  • A team of AI, sustainability, and ethics experts
  • Access to advanced computing services, such as HPC and quantum computing
  • Cloud computing products and services that support AI, generative AI, and ML solutions
  • AWS Activate credits to cover the POC build

In addition, all POCs will be designed under the guidelines of UNESCO’s Ethics Impact Assessment for AI. This ensures that each solution is built with safe, trustworthy technology.

Startups that apply but are not selected to participate will have access to up to $5,000 in AWS credits. They will also be invited to join the IRCAI industrial club.

To apply for the Compute for Climate Fellowship and find out if your startup is eligible, visit

Lisbeth Kaufman

Lisbeth Kaufman

Lisbeth Kaufman is the Head of Climate Tech BD, Startups and Venture Capital at AWS. Her mission is to help the best Climate Tech startups succeed and reverse the global climate crisis. Her team has technical resources, go to market support and connections to help climate tech startups overcome obstacles and scale. Lisbeth was Founder and CEO of, a sharing economy company called “the Airbnb of Cameras” by Forbes. Before she was a founder, Lisbeth worked on climate policy as an energy/environment/agriculture policy advisor in the U.S. Senate. There she built a first-of-its-kind energy efficiency retrofit program and wrote a clean energy bill for farmers that got passed into law. Lisbeth has a BA from Yale and an MBA from NYU Stern where she was a Dean's Scholar. As a mentor at Techstars and an EIR a Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator Lisbeth helps climate tech founders with product, growth, fundraising, as well as making strategic connections to teams at AWS and Amazon.