27 million euros for AI in environmental sector

Our support programme for artificial intelligence

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As part of the German government’s AI strategy, the Federal Environment Ministry is supporting projects that use artificial intelligence to tackle environmental challenges and set an example for green, environmentally sound and climate-friendly digitalisation (AI lighthouse projects).

In particular, this includes projects on digital ecological innovation that

  • contribute to achieving climate targets,
  • conserve biodiversity,
  • promote nature-friendly agricultural practices, sustainable consumption or sustainable mobility,
  • promote accessibility, transparency and usability of environmental data,
  • improve the basis for decision-making for environmental protection,
  • reduce energy and resource demand,
  • safeguard protection standards,
  • advance environment-oriented programming of AI algorithms or
  • strengthen knowledge sharing and societal discourse on complex data driven systems.

What we support

Through the AI lighthouse projects on a key technology, the BMU wants to contribute to achieving a positive innovation climate in Germany that uses digitalisation for environmental action and reduces its risks. Two lines of funding address projects at different stages of development:

Call for participation AI for environmental protection - funding line 1:

Funding applications are invited for creative and innovative ideas to address environmental challenges. The process enables applicants with or without funding experience to present their competences and ideas. Based on a brief project outline, applicants with the best concepts will be given the chance to work on a more detailed project plan over a five month period. The most promising of these will be given the opportunity to implement their ideas. The call is aimed in particular at interdisciplinary teams. We want to broaden the community seizing the opportunities of digital technologies and encourage them to also pursue unconventional approaches.

AI innovation fund for the environment, climate nature and resources - funding line 2:

With the AI innovation fund the BMU wants to support the development, use and communication of AI based applications for the environment, climate, nature and resources. This includes various types of projects with a maximum duration of three years:

  • Feasibility studies
  • Applied research and experimental development
  • Scaling measures and practical application of innovative AI processes
  • Capacity building (for example with offers of advisory, networking, demonstration and knowledge transfer services)

Who can apply?

Both lines of funding are geared towards industry, the scientific community and civil society: individuals, state and non-state institutions of higher education, non-university research institutes, municipalities, organisations (foundations, associations, unions) and commercial and non-profit companies. The participation of start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and social entrepreneurs is expressly desired. Individual stakeholders can also apply as associated partners.

How to apply

As plans now stand, funding information will be published in mid-August. The envisaged deadline for applications is the end of September. The executing agency is the Zukunft-Umwelt-Gesellschaft (ZUG) gGmbH, which will be available to provide advisory support from August onwards.