San Francisco, CA, 14 September 2020 — ClimateAI has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant for $246,956 to conduct research and development (R&D) work to create more accurate and reliable climate forecasts on a two-week to three-month time scale that contain actionable decision-making information for farmers.
ClimateAI takes a machine-learning approach to forecasting — a breakthrough new way to predict weather compared to conventional models, which use only public data, are prone to biases, and require a great deal of time and vast computational resources. But ClimateAI’s model has been able to show when extreme weather events are approaching and calculate their potential impact across a field as small as 25 square kilometers. This information is invaluable to growers who need to make decisions about when to plant, harvest, and fertilize, in order to harvest the most edible crops and maximize their razor-thin margins, especially amid a changing climate.
“NSF is proud to support the technology of the future by thinking beyond incremental developments and funding the most creative, impactful ideas across all markets and areas of science and engineering,” said Andrea Belz, Division Director of the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships at NSF. “With the support of our research funds, any deep technology startup or small business can guide basic science into meaningful solutions that address tremendous needs.”
[quote text=”“AI is an exciting new wave in seasonal and meteorological forecasting with immense potential. We are looking forward to testing the bounds of what is possible and hopefully with this NSF grant, push knowledge forward into the-as-of-yet impossible,” said ClimateAI co-founder and project lead Maximillian Evans.“]
Once a small business is awarded a Phase I SBIR/STTR grant (up to $256,000), it becomes eligible to apply for a Phase II grant (up to $1,000,000). Small businesses with Phase II grants are eligible to receive up to $500,000 in additional matching funds with qualifying third-party investment or sales. ClimateAI received this grant under NSF’s artificial intelligence program, specifically for “smart agriculture.”
Advances in technology like this could make the agricultural sector more sustainable, profitable, and efficient amid the increasing frequency of extreme weather events due to climate change. The agricultural sector is extremely vulnerable to climate change’s impacts: increasingly extreme weather events and depleted soil have worsened growing conditions, threatening crop yields. Meanwhile, the United Nations estimates that the Earth’s population will increase by more than 2 billion people within the next 30 years, to reach a total population of about 10 billion people in 2050 (UN report, 2019). The growing population in combination with a changing climate will make it more difficult for the agricultural sector and the food supply chain to feed this rapid demand.
About the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Programs: America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF awards $200 million annually to startups and small businesses, transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. Startups working across almost all areas of science and technology can receive up to $1.75 million to support research and development (R&D), helping de-risk technology for commercial success. America’s Seed Fund is congressionally mandated through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The NSF is an independent federal agency with a budget of about $8.1 billion that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering.
Startups or entrepreneurs who submit a three-page Project Pitch will know within three weeks if they meet the program’s objectives to support innovative technologies that show promise of commercial and/or societal impact and involve a level of technical risk. Small businesses with innovative science and technology solutions, and commercial potential are encouraged to apply. All proposals submitted to the NSF SBIR/STTR program, also known as America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF, undergo a rigorous merit-based review process. To learn more about America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF, visit: https://seedfund.nsf.gov/
About ClimateAI: ClimateAI is a climatetech startup based in the Bay Area, California. ClimateAI provides customizable tools for decision-makers in the agricultural sector to make farming more profitable and food systems more resilient by bringing climate forecasting and agronomics into the age of machine learning. Its breakthrough forecasting models can create place-based, crop-specific, and industry-focused predictions for anywhere from two weeks to one year to 50 years out. Learn more: https://climate.ai/