discussion / Community Base  / 22 July 2021

WILDLABS Fellowships

Hi wildlabbers! 

We are delighted to announce the launch of the WILDLABS Fellowship Programme, so I'm here to tell you a bit more about the fellowships, our vision for the future and to take any questions you might have about our new programme. 

The WILDLABS Fellowship Programme

Our fellowship programme is built around a core belief that funding is only the first step in supporting current and future conservation technology leaders. With this in mind, all our Fellowships will have three key elements:

  1. Funding: Grants are the fuel that take innovative ideas from the starting point to the finish line. By providing direct financial support to conservation technologists, we are directly contributing to the new solutions and data needed to address conservation’s biggest challenges.
  2. Mentorship: Our tech partners have more to offer to conservation technology than just funding, and we want to put their expertise to use. By providing mentorship, access to technology and training, or other unique forms of personalised support, our tech partners will support Fellows to ensure their projects reach new levels of long- term impact.
  3. Community: We'll support fellows to effectively document their project’s progress on WILDLABS. Fellows will benefit from the support and advice of our expert conservation technology community, and you will benefit from the real-world solutions our fellows are building and witnessing the lessons they learn along they way. 

By providing funding and support to real conservation or tech development projects, our aim is to fuel the creativity, collaborations, and bold out-of-the-box thinking that will drive conservation technology forward and shape our field’s bright future.

Open for Applications - WILDLABS Fellowship: On the Edge 

Our first fellowship is now open for applications! We've partnered with Edge Impulse to offer a $6,500 award, expert AI mentorship, and a global platform to Fellows whose conservation projects use machine learning on the edge. 

We challenge applicants to imagine how machine learning can transform their own conservation projects, through solutions that are big, small, or scalable. You don’t need to be an expert in machine learning to apply; through Edge Impulse’s invaluable mentorship for Fellows, you’ll develop the skills you need to apply machine learning to your work - both on this project and in the future. 

Questions? Drop them below and we’ll answer them, and use them to keep our Fellowship FAQs updated. Please help us get the word out and share this opportunity through your networks!

Looking to the Future - what's our vision? 

Our partnership with Edge Impulse on the On the Edge Fellowship is just the start. Stepping back and looking at the big picture  - I see this programme as far more than just another small grant programme. Our vision for this programme is to create a better way for the tech industry to more meaningfully and impactfully engage with conservation. This big vision is why I’m so excited that we’re launching this programme today.

We, and many other conservation organisations, are approached all the time by tech companies – small to large - looking for ways to get involved in conservation. But too often this eagerness doesn’t have anywhere to go – or worse yet, fizzles out after wasting time and resources. We need a better way to matchmake and support the exchange of knowledge, tools and funding between the conservation and tech sectors.

The WILDLABS community platform and our events are in part intended to help facilitate this matchmaking and collaboration, but with our Fellowship Programme, we’re going to take this a step further.

Through this programme, our goal is to channel new expertise, innovation and funding into conservation from the tech sector. We’ve designed it as a first step into a conservation partnership for tech companies, and it’s ideal for tech orgs that love the idea of helping tackle conservation challenges but don’t know who, what or how to even get started in trying to get involved in conservation tech.

Likewise, we want to find and support people and projects in our community tackling urgent, meaningful conservation challenges that could use additional funding, tech mentoring, training or just technology (hardware or software). We’re aware that partnerships with the tech industry take time and access to establish and manage– our aim is to help open these relationships up with tech companies that have made meaningful commitments that underpin their interest in being involved in conservation (i.e. direct funding [not just in-kind technology offerings or cloud credits], mentorship and training, and potentially other resources, and that this commitment is over the full fellowship year).   

We also believe that conservation technology should be accessible, and that conservation technology communities like WILDLABS must work to become more inclusive and make opportunities, tools, training, funding, and support readily available to those who have not had the same access to such things in the past. Building accessibility to conservation tech tools and networks is a key aspect of our Fellowship Programme (as it is with all our work), so we’ll be working to ensure this programme is supporting new voices and people to our field.

Through our Fellowship Programme, tech companies will find projects that actually need their help, and conservationists will be connected to tech partners who have demonstrated their commitment to conservation. From this foundation, we hope that our fellowships will be the start of deeper, longer term partnerships between our conservation community and the tech industry. We are hugely excited to see how this programme can grow, and appreciative of the enthusiasm from the team at Edge Impulse whose support has been instrumental in offering us the opportunity to experiment with the new approach.

So finally, if you’re a tech company and love the sound of this - please do get in touch, we’d love to hear from anyone interested in partnering with us for WILDLABS Fellowship. Drop me an email ([email protected]) to find out more.

And at risk of opening the floodgates… I’m also interested to hear from our conservation tech community. Do you have an idea that could fit as a fellowship project? Please let us know (below or over email) - this will help us find the right tech partners to join the programme.