AI for good challenge

How can we use Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques to tackle the climate emergency?

This challenge is now closed. 

You can still take a look at our current list of challenges.

Challenge description

Scottish Enterprise, in collaboration with the Scottish Government, is looking for innovative organisations to help solve the climate emergency by harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

This 100% funded R&D SBRI project will provide up to 6 contracts of £28,000 over a 10-week period in phase 1. And up to £133,000 will be available for three successful phase 2 solutions over the following 12 months.

Scottish Enterprise is seeking creative, cutting-edge proposals that can demonstrate the ability to support climate change mitigation and adaption.


Despite commitments to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030 and to be a net zero society by 2045, we must seek to progress towards a net zero target as quickly as we can, using all of the tools at our disposal. As well as committing to addressing our own contribution to global warming through a commitment to net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, Scotland has the opportunity to create innovative solutions that can be applied globally.

In 2017, Scotland contributed 0.15% to total global emissions from 0.07% of global population. Our contribution may appear miniscule in relative terms and our ability to create impact from successfully delivering our own ambitions will be insufficient to save us from a failure to respond at a global level.

There's an opportunity for Scotland to innovate and create solutions that can be invented here and deployed around the world. Working in partnership with the Scottish Government and with the assistance of the broader public sector and innovation community, Scottish Enterprise wishes to procure R&D services to create new products and services that will help in the Government’s efforts to address the climate emergency.

In doing so, we're specifically looking for solutions that exploit Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques to deliver these solutions. This builds upon the proposition that Scotland has excellent capabilities in the application of AI.


How might we use AI techniques to tackle Scotland’s, and the world’s, climate emergency? 

We're looking for solutions that will contribute to Scotland’s climate emergency and that can be rolled out globally. Solutions must demonstrate and evidence the use of the use of Artificial Intelligence (such as, but not limited to, machine learning) to deliver their outputs. 

The competition won't seek to constrain the nature of the area of application of any potential bids. However, to stimulate potential ideas - as a bidder, you might want to think in terms of how your product or service will impact on the climate emergency. It’s likely that this will take one of two forms:

1. Climate change mitigation - i.e. the effort to reduce or prevent GHG emissions

2. Climate change adaptation - i.e. the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects.

Looking to areas that may be open to such actions, bids could, for example, address:

Solutions to reduce negative impacts of:

  • Energy production and distribution
  • Energy used for heating
  • Energy used in travel and transportation of goods
  • Energy used in industrial processes

Solutions producing positive carbon impacts:

  • Through land use (for example, afforestation)
  • Through changing land use
  • Carbon capture and storage
  • Enabling the use of hydrogen
  • Creating better solutions for measuring, managing, modelling, analysing and predicting the impact of our activities in relation to both contributing to and mitigating the effects of climate change.

You can find examples of how AI might be used to tackle the climate emergency in the paper Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning.

This is provided for reference only and is not intended to constrain ideas or to limit the context of any proposal.


This competition is being supported by the Scottish Government through the Can Do Innovation Challenge Fund. The overall programme will be delivered over two phases.

This is phase 1 of a potential 2-phase competition. A decision to proceed with phase 2 will depend on the outcomes from phase 1. Only successful applicants from phase 1 will be able to take part in phase 2.

The contracting authority reserve the right to adjust the provisional funding allocations between the phases. The total funding available for the competition may be subject to change.

Phase 1

Phase 1 involves research and development contracts being awarded to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of the proposed project. The feasibility should also qualify and quantify the potential impact on the climate emergency in Scotland and globally.

A total of up to £170,000 (including VAT) is allocated to phase 1 of the competition and it's anticipated that there will be up to six feasibility study contracts up to £28,000 (including VAT) awarded for up to 10 weeks (completion 31 March 2020). The assessors will consider fair value in making their evaluation.

We would welcome bids from organisations that bring together a consortium of sectorial specialists, public sector, 3rd sector and industrial partners to work together to provide a solution to the challenge set.

Phase 2

Phase 2 involves research and development contracts being awarded to businesses chosen from the successful Phase 1 applicants, to develop a prototype and undertake field-testing in Scotland. It's anticipated that up to three phase 2 contracts, up to £133,000 (Including VAT) each will be awarded for up to 12 months.

The contract will terminate at the end of Phase 2, and the chosen business will be expected to pursue the deployment and commercialisation of their solution.