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Google AI Impact Challenge, 2018

Working together to apply AI
for social good

Google AI conducts research that advances the state-of-the-art in the field, applying AI to products and to new domains, and developing tools to ensure that everyone can access AI.

Google.org partnered with Google AI to issue an open call to organizations around the world to submit their ideas for how they could use AI to help address societal challenges. We received applications from 119 countries, spanning 6 continents with projects ranging from environmental to humanitarian. From these applications, we selected 20 organizations to support.

Grant recipients

Meet the Google AI Impact Challenge grantees

See how these 20 organizations are using AI to create a positive impact in their communities.

About the challenge

Application criteria

Impact

How will the proposed project address a societal challenge, and to what extent? Is the application grounded in research and data about the problem and the solution? Is there a clear plan to deploy the AI model for real-world impact, and what are the expected outcomes?

Feasibility

Does the team have a well-developed, realistic plan to execute on the proposal? Does the team have a plan to access a meaningful dataset and technical expertise to apply AI to the problem? Have they identified the right partners and domain experts needed for implementation?

Use of AI

Does the proposal apply AI technology to tackle the issue it seeks to address?

Scalability

If successful, how can this project scale beyond the initial proposal? Can it scale directly, serve as a model for other efforts, or advance the field?

Responsibility

Does the proposed use of artificial intelligence align with Google’s AI Principles? See Google’s Responsible AI Practices for practical guidance.

Meet the expert reviewers

Our panel of experts from around the world will help review submissions and select grant recipients.

  • Jeff Dean

    Senior Fellow and SVP, Google AI

  • Jacquelline Fuller

    VP, Google and President, Google.org

  • Ferid Belhaj

    Vice President for Middle East and North Africa, World Bank Group

  • Moustapha Cisse

    Research Scientist and Lead of Google AI Center, Accra

  • Geena Davis

    Academy Award Winning Actor and Founder and Chair of Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

  • Ayanna Howard

    Chair, Roboticist, and Entrepreneur, School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Tech

  • Luis Alberto Moreno

    President, Inter-American Development Bank

  • Tim O’Reilly

    Founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media

  • Mustafa Suleyman

    Co-founder and Head of Applied AI, DeepMind

  • Fernanda Viegas

    Senior Research Scientist, Google AI

Educational resources to get started

We’ve developed a toolkit of educational content to help social impact organizations understand and assess how they might use AI. Whether you’re a novice or interested in upleveling your ML skill set, get started by exploring our guide.

Impact Challenge FAQ

Frequently asked questions about the Challenge and how to apply.

FAQS

About

What is the Google AI Impact Challenge?

The Google AI Impact Challenge is an open call to nonprofits, social enterprises, and research institutions around the world to submit their ideas to use AI to help address social and environmental challenges. Selected organizations will receive education and coaching from Google’s AI experts, access to computing resources, and Google.org grant funding from a $25M pool.

What do you mean by AI? What does it mean to apply AI for social good?

Artificial intelligence (AI) and its sub-category of machine learning (ML) are characterized by a process of training a piece of software, called a model, to generate new outputs based on a set of data inputs - for example, predicting a sports team's performance based on their past record. This model can then serve up predictions about previously unseen data. AI models can range from linear regressions run in Excel to sophisticated deep learning algorithms run on AI platforms, and we are open to applications across this spectrum, as long as they aim to help address a social or environmental problem.

Why is Google hosting the Google AI Impact Challenge?

We believe that AI can give us new ways of addressing problems and meaningfully improve people’s lives. We want to support organizations on the front lines of solving today’s biggest challenges with bold ideas to apply AI to the problems that they know best. Since 2005, Google.org has invested in innovative organizations that are using technology to build a better world.

When is the Google AI Challenge?

As of January 23, 2019, applications are now closed. We are currently reviewing proposals and will announce grant recipients in spring 2019.

What will grant recipients receive? How big will the grants be?

Grant recipients will receive the best of Google to help bring their ideas to life: coaching from Google’s AI experts; Google.org grant funding from a $25M pool; and access to resources including computing power, an ML-focused accelerator, training, and more. We expect grants may range from $500k to $2M USD, but will ultimately be sized based on project needs. We encourage applicants to submit budgets that accurately reflect the scope of their proposal. Likewise, education, coaching, and computing resources will also be tailored to project needs.

I applied for the program and have not heard back. How can I receive an update on the status of my organization's proposal?

Thank you for taking the time to submit a proposal to the Google AI Impact Challenge. We were very impressed by the high quality of applications we received and had to make tough decisions in narrowing down the pool to the final 20 grant recipients.

In the spring, we sent an application status update to the email address listed in each application. While we did email every applicant, it is possible that your organization may have had an issue receiving our email if the email address you listed is no longer valid or your organization uses filters to screen out unknown email addresses.

On behalf of the whole team at Google, we want to thank you for the time, thought and energy you put into your application, and for your continued work to make our world better.

What if I still have questions after reading the FAQs?

Please contact us at ai-impact-challenge@google.com. We will review every email and post responses to commonly asked questions on our FAQ here.

Entry & eligibility

Who is eligible?

The Challenge is open to any nonprofit organization, public charity, or for-profit business from around the world, provided that they apply for a project that has a charitable purpose. Unfortunately, individuals without organizational affiliation are ineligible. Public, governmental, and inter-governmental organizations are also ineligible. However, organizations that do meet our eligibility criteria and partner with governments are welcome to apply. Individuals and organizations that ordinarily reside or are located in Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, or Syria are not eligible to apply.

Can we apply if we’re a for-profit business with a social impact?

For-profit businesses that are registered or formed under the laws of their country may apply if their suggested projects have an explicit charitable purpose. We’re looking for innovators who understand the needs of marginalized and vulnerable populations in their own communities and around the world and are working to create new and unexpected solutions to address social or environmental inequities. Final discretion as to which organizations and which projects are funded is up to Google.

Can my organization submit a joint application with another organization?

Only one organization may be the applicant of record, but we welcome and encourage collaboration - especially between technical and social sector experts. The application allows you to specify partners who will be critical to your work. If your application is selected to receive a grant, the applicant organization will be the sole recipient of the grant, but may subgrant or subcontract with other organizations to complete the proposed project as long as all organizations comply with the terms of the grant agreement.

Should I submit my application in English?

Yes, applications must be submitted in English to be considered. However, we’re willing to work with organizations with varying levels of English ability throughout the review and selection process.

Can my organization submit more than one idea?

We encourage you to strongly consider which project best resonates with our submission criteria and your organization’s strengths. However, if you feel you have two unrelated projects that would each make good candidates, please submit a separate application for each. We will review each one independently. No organization may submit more than two applications, except as designated below.

What if I work for a large organization, like a university, that has many departments - can we submit multiple applications?

Large organizations like colleges and universities are permitted to submit multiple applications. In the case of colleges and universities, we ask that each Principal Investigator submit only one proposal.

What if I am an organization that is fiscally sponsoring another?

Fiscal sponsors can submit more than one application: one for the fiscal sponsor organization itself, and one on behalf of each sponsored group.

Confidential information & IP

Will details of the project idea we submit be kept confidential?

No. Google.org will not treat your application as confidential or proprietary, and the details of your project may be shared with internal or external experts to evaluate your proposal: please do not submit any proprietary or confidential information in your application. Please keep in mind that if your organization is selected to receive a grant, your project summary will be made available to the public on the Google AI Impact Challenge website.

Who owns the intellectual property created by the grant recipients?

We believe that projects supported by our funding should be able to benefit everyone. If you are selected to receive a grant, the standard grant agreement will require any intellectual property created with grant funding from Google be made available for free to the public under a permissive open source license. If your organization is selected for further consideration, and you have a compelling reason why your organization needs to own the intellectual property created with grant funding, you will have an opportunity to request an exception and provide support for your request.

Will applying to this Challenge or being selected for a grant require me to share the dataset my organization plans to use for our project with Google?

Google or its partners may ask for a small sample of your data set if you are selected for further consideration. Otherwise, Google won’t need access to your organization’s dataset. Please don’t include your dataset or any part of it in your application.

Project info

What do you mean when you say “project”?

A project is your organization’s proposed concept and implementation plan for how you will use AI to drive social good. If selected for a grant, we’ll be supporting the implementation of this project - so we need to know exactly how the grant will help you realize your plan.

Do I need to have the dataset my organization plans to use for our proposed project already?

No - we will consider proposals that include a plan for how to collect or access required data, even if they have not done so yet.

Can the project be in the idea stage? Does this have to be a new idea for my organization?

Yes - we’re happy to consider early-stage ideas with a clear and feasible plan for implementation that will benefit society. Ideas need not be brand new - in fact, they may already be a work in progress. In all cases, we would like to hear exactly how a grant will change the trajectory of your progress toward implementation, scale, and impact.

Does my organization need to have experience using AI, a training dataset, or a technical expert on staff?

No - we are open to any organization with a strong idea for how to apply AI and a plan to collect or access a training dataset. We’d encourage organizations to consider partnering with technical experts in their networks for guidance and implementation support (e.g., data scientists, academic experts, or engineers).

If another organization is currently implementing a similar concept, can we still submit the idea?

Yes, but please note that projects will be judged in part on their innovative approach and potential to scale. Please tell us how and why your implementation is innovative for the community, why your organization is uniquely suited to implement the concept in a way that will be more successful, or how you plan to partner with other organizations to achieve success.

Over what time period should the grant funds be spent?

We expect the grant to be spent over the course of one to three years.

Can the grant be used to fund overhead and staffing costs?

Yes, but the large majority of the award should be devoted to the implementation of the project. For universities and other academic institutions, administrative expenses generally should be limited to 10% of the total budget or less. This maximum rate applies to the primary grantee, sub-grantees, and sub-contracts. Google.org only allows the indirect cost rates to be applied to sub-grants/contracts that are designated for research and development.

Application process

Can I get a copy of the application questions before I fill out the application?

Yes, you can find a copy of the application questions here.

Can we include appendices or additional information to the application?

The application includes an opportunity to provide links to additional resources. Unfortunately, we are not able to accept any attachments beyond those linked as additional materials in the application form.

Can I save a draft of my application on the site if I want to edit it later?

No. Applications can’t be saved for later completion, so we recommend drafting your responses in a separate document first and only completing the application form when the entire application is ready for submission.

How do I make sure my application is successfully submitted?

Make sure all required fields are populated and within the given word limits, then click the “Submit” button. If the application has been successfully submitted, you should see a screen with a message confirming that we received your application, and you should also receive a confirmation email to the email address you provided.

I’ve submitted my application. What do I do now?

That’s great news. No further action is required. We’ll reach out if we require any additional information, and will announce the finalists per the timeline on the website.

Do I need a Google account to apply?

No, you don’t need a Google account.

Will every single application be reviewed?

Yes, we will review all eligible applications received.