BMUV: Launch of the third funding call for the “AI Lighthouses” initiative

April 2, 2024. We are looking for digital projects with a lighthouse character that use artificial intelligence (AI) to advance natural climate protection. This includes applications that aim to avoid or reduce greenhouse gas emissions by protecting ecosystems, record, protect and promote biodiversity or contribute to climate adaptation. The funds for this year’s call for funding, amounting to around 24 million euros, will be made available via the BMUV’s Natural Climate Protection Action Program (ANK). Project outlines can be submitted from now until May 17, 2024.

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Symbolic image of artificial intelligence (AI) / pixabay patrypguerreiro

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Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke: “Natural Climate Protection is a central key to overcoming the triple crisis in the environment, nature and climate. With our Natural Climate Protection Action Program, we want to contribute to the protection of biodiversity and significantly improve the general condition of domestic ecosystems and their climate protection performance. We also want to leverage the potential offered by the sustainable use of artificial intelligence.”

In the context of the funding guideline, AI is defined in particular as learning systems based on machine learning methods. These open up considerable opportunities for the environment, climate, resources, preservation of biodiversity, development of protection strategies for people and the environment as well as for clean air, soil and water. As a cross-sectional technology, AI can be used in a variety of ways, for example in the evaluation of data streams from environmental monitoring, the recording of potential savings and the identification of suitable protective measures for natural ecosystems, the environmentally friendly optimization of technical management processes for natural resources and the assessment of their environmental impact, and also in supporting decisions in complex development scenarios.

In order to support the transfer of research into practice, cooperation between science and industry or municipalities is welcomed, as is the participation of start-ups, social entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The planned AI applications should have a positive environmental balance. This means that the positive environmental effects outweigh the expected negative environmental effects of the development and application of the AI solution. The projects must make a clear contribution to solving an environmental challenge and have a broad external impact.

With the AI Lighthouse Initiative, the BMUV aims to use artificial intelligence specifically for environmental and climate protection and contribute to the implementation of the German government’s AI strategy. It aims to make Germany and Europe a leading AI location and to promote the responsible development and use of AI for the common good. The AI Lighthouse Initiative is also included as a specific project in the Federal Government’s digital strategy. In the digital strategy, the Federal Government brings together its political priorities in the cross-cutting topic of digitalization and sets itself the goal of Germany’s technological and digital sovereignty.

With the first two funding rounds, the BMUV is already funding 53 AI lighthouse projects with a total funding volume of around 70 million euros. The responsible project management organization for the AI Lighthouses funding initiative is Zukunft – Umwelt – Gesellschaft (ZUG) gGmbH.

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