Aller au contenu


Artificial intelligence for marine biodiversity

Context and objectives of the challenge

The “research” component of the national strategy for artificial intelligence (SNIA) launched in 2018 aims to strengthen France’s position in this sector. In addition, the National Biodiversity Plan of 4 July 2018 states as a general objective “Recovering biodiversity, a question of survival for our societies”. Among the challenges, the oceans cover about 71% of our planet and concentrate an essential part of biodiversity.

In this context, the French National Research Agency (ANR), in co-financing with the French Development Agency (AFD), is organising a scientific challenge with the ambition of responding to the challenges of marine biodiversity by using artificial intelligence (AI).

The AI-Biodiv challenge aims to predict changes in biodiversity and develop reliable indicators. Given the complexity of interactions between ecosystems and the heterogeneity of data, current indicators remain limited in predicting changes in biodiversity, particularly in the marine environment. Furthermore, data structuring remains one of the major obstacles to knowledge of biodiversity.

The main objectives are :

  • optimise AI methods to improve research into marine biodiversity,
  • design innovative prediction models and indicators,
  • develop hybrid AI methods to enhance our knowledge of marine environments
  • and will focus on coastal marine biodiversity in the Mediterranean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

These objectives will be illustrated mainly by the creation of the virtual research environment “IA-BiodivNet” which will be enriched in a collaborative manner throughout the challenge. This platform will eventually be accessible to any scientist or researcher and will contribute to the dissemination of permanent data sets for future scientific work in AI and in the field of biodiversity.

An original collaborative research method

At a time when global challenges are increasingly numerous and complex, it is becoming essential to innovate and encourage the sharing of knowledge in order to find appropriate responses. The challenge, a specific funding instrument of the French National Research Agency (ANR), makes it possible to respond to these challenges by simultaneously exploring different scientific or technological approaches to a single problem and by pooling solutions. It compares and shares the approaches and work of the funded consortia, and encourages the establishment of common references between scientific communities from different backgrounds.

The challenge launched on 23 February 2022 for a period of four years brings together three teams of researchers specialising in the field of AI and biodiversity who will work on the design and development of their project in a collaborative manner. Their work, planned by an organisational consortium, will focus on the coastal marine environment in the Mediterranean Sea in the first two years and concentrate on the Pacific Ocean in the last two. Using common data sets, the teams will each address specific and complementary marine biodiversity issues.

Organisation and schedule

The IA-BIODIV challenge is led by the operational consortium (COpé).

The challenge will take place in two successive stages:

  • A “dry-run” evaluation campaign during the first year of the challenge;
  • Three annual evaluation campaigns.

The “dry-run” campaign will allow to launch, approximately nine months after the launch of the challenge, the first “blank” evaluation tests. The objectives of this annual campaign are to :

  • define and validate the evaluation protocol
  • to allow the consortia to familiarise themselves with the evaluation tools and the environment of the challenge (IA-BiodivNet virtual research environment and possible associated tools)
  • establish cooperation between the consortia participating in the challenge.

The evaluation and collaboration protocols and methodologies thus validated will be implemented for the three annual campaigns that will take place during the next stage of the challenge (and thus during the following three years).
On the occasion of each annual campaign, the evaluation protocol will be updated, the challenge environment will be fed by the organising consortium and the consortia participating in the challenge.

About the funders

The IA-Biodiv Challenge is co-financed by the French National Research Agency (ANR) and the French Development Agency (AFD) via Expertise France. This funding is supported by a donation from Meta AI, for a total effort of €4.8M.

The French National Research Agency (ANR)

The National Research Agency (ANR) is the funding agency for project-based research in France. A public institution under the supervision of the Ministry of Research, the Agency’s mission is to finance and promote the development of fundamental and applied research, technical innovation and technology transfer, as well as partnerships between public and private sector research teams at the national, European and international levels. The ANR is also the main operator of the France 2030 programs in the field of higher education and research, for which it selects, finances and monitors projects covering, in particular, initiatives of excellence, research infrastructures and support for the progress and valorisation of research. The ANR is ISO 9001 certified for all its processes related to “project selection”.

French Development Agency (AFD)

The AFD Group contributes to the implementation of France’s development and international solidarity policy. AFD Group is made up of Agence Française de Développement (AFD), in charge of public sector and NGO financing, research and training on sustainable development, its subsidiary Proparco, dedicated to private sector financing, and Expertise France, a technical cooperation agency. The Group finances, accompanies and accelerates transitions towards a more just and resilient world.
Together with our partners, we build shared solutions with and for the people of the South. Our teams are involved in more than 4,000 projects in the field, in the French overseas territories, in 115 countries and in territories in crisis, for common goods – climate, biodiversity, peace, gender equality, education and health. In this way, we are contributing to the commitment of France and the French people to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For a world in common.

Expertise France

Public agency, Expertise France is the interministerial player in international technical cooperation and a subsidiary of the French Development Agency (AFD Group). The second largest agency in Europe, it designs and implements projects that sustainably strengthen public policies in developing and emerging countries. It operates in key areas of development and works alongside its partners to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For a world in common.

subscribe to our newsletter

Co-funded by

With a donation from

organized by