Compute for Climate Fellowship to fund new tech solutions addressing the climate crisis
The program will select and fully fund proof of concepts for new ideas that leverage advanced cloud computing, including generative AI and complex systems modeling and simulation, to solve some of the biggest challenges in the fight against climate change.
The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General has called climate change “the defining issue of our time.” We couldn’t agree more. Earlier this month, the world recorded the highest average temperatures across the globe, according to data from the U.S. National Centers on Environmental Prediction. Wildfires, floods, droughts, and rising sea levels have been consistently ravaging different parts of the planet for years now, which poses a real threat to food security, people’s health, and biodiversity.
Solving these challenges requires innovation. We believe startups are well suited to help find new solutions to address the climate crisis. The venture capital community agrees: according to PWC, 25% of all venture capital investments in 2022 were directed toward climate tech startups.
While thousands of these innovators are inventing new science and technologies every day to address this urgent issue, the research and development (R&D) needed to bring them to market can be an expensive and lengthy process. To help accelerate some of the brightest ideas out there, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is partnering with the International Research Centre on Artificial Intelligence (IRCAI), an organization under the auspices of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to launch the Compute for Climate Fellowship. This first-of-its-kind global program is designed to support entrepreneurs and startups that are applying advanced cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) to create new solutions that address the climate crisis.
The Compute for Climate Fellowship select proposals that think big, have the most innovative use of advanced cloud computing, and the biggest promise for global impact within six key problem areas in the fight against climate change:
- Climate risk and resilience
- Food security
- Biodiversity and conservation
- Climate-related health
- Circular economy
- Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) analytics
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 high-performance computing (HPC)
- Cloud computing products and services that support AI, generative AI, and machine learning (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.
“With this program, we want to give those founders and innovators trying to solve some of the most complex and pervasive challenges, varying from materials science to agriculture and weather analytics to biodiversity remediation, a leg up in bringing their ideas to life,” said Kathryn Van Nuys, Global Head of Specialized Segment Startups at AWS. “Beyond funds to cover their POCs and technical support, by partnering with IRCAI, we also ensure that they have access to best practices and know-how on bringing ethical and safe products and services to market.”
Advanced computing and AI have already shown great promise in helping create solutions to fight climate change. AWS is currently supporting customers in developing early-warning systems for food insecurity; analytics for health equity in the context of climate change; intelligence to power the circular economy; and modeling and simulation capabilities that use HPC to identify and mitigate climate-related fires, floods, and heat waves.
AWS is also helping customers explore how large language models can help remediate biodiversity loss, support mental health interventions in impacted populations, and foster innovation among automotive manufacturers focused on reaching net-zero goals, electrification, and circularity.
One example is Good Chemistry. The startup discovered new pathways to destroy per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These “forever chemicals,” don’t break down naturally and can cause harm to people’s health and the environment. Using AWS quantum and HPC computing, Good Chemistry has proved that “forever chemicals” don’t actually need to last forever. With this technology, they can run simulations using more than a million CPU cores to calculate energies for bond-breaking in several PFAS.
BlocPower analyzes over 100 million buildings’ energy profiles to better understand how to optimize energy efficiency across the United States. They source energy profiles using EnergyPlus, the US Department of Energy’s open-source whole-building modeling engine.
With AWS HPC capabilities, BlocPower has processed over 30 TB of data at speeds 16,000 times greater than they could before. Within three months, the startup finished building its entire data pipeline in the cloud. This empowered them to deploy BlocMaps, a SaaS solution that provides actionable insights for property owners, utility companies, municipalities, states, and other groups interested in decarbonizing buildings.
Applications are open now
Applications for the Compute for Climate Fellowship are open now! Submissions will be accepted and selected on a rolling basis. Submit your application before August 31 to be considered and maybe have the opportunity to be showcased at AWS re:Invent conference in November 2023. Applications submitted after September 1 will be considered for development in 2024.
Startups that apply but are not selected to participate will have access to up to $5,000 in AWS credits through the AWS Activate program, as well as free workshops and training on how to use AWS HPC services to build their solutions.
To apply for the Compute for Climate Fellowship and learn details on eligibility, visit https://ircai.org/compute-for-climate-fellowship.