Amazon Earmarks Nearly Quarter-Billion Dollars for AI Startups

In an effort to nurture AI innovation and talent among young companies, Amazon Web Services (AWS) on Thursday announced a new AI startup fund worth $230 million.

The fund aims to "provide startups, especially early-stage companies, with AWS credits, mentorship, and education to further their use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies," AWS said in its announcement.

Startups that qualify will receive AWS credits that they can use to pay for various AWS storage, compute, database and other solutions to support their AI projects. For instance, they can apply credits to use Amazon Bedrock, AWS' library of AI models; the Amazon SageMaker ML platform; and EC2 instances that run on AWS' AI-optimized Trainium and Inferentia chips.

Part of that $230 million will be automatically allocated to new companies that are selected to join the invitation-only AWS Generative AI Accelerator. Launched last year, the accelerator is an intensive 10-week program that's designed to equip promising startups with up to $1 million in AWS credits and training courses, as well as networking opportunities focused on marketing and business growth.

They'll also have the opportunity to join chip giant Nvidia's own AI startup network, Inception. Finally, all startups enrolled in the accelerator will be given a booth at AWS' annual re:Invent conference.

AWS is now taking applications for the second round of startups to be enrolled in the AWS Generative AI Accelerator. It's open to "early-stage startups that are using generative AI to solve complex challenges in areas such as financial services, healthcare and life sciences, media and entertainment, business, and climate change, among others."

There are only 80 spots. Applications will be accepted until July 19. Accepted startups will be notified by Sept. 10, and the program will officially kick off on Oct. 1.

"[I]t's no coincidence that 96% of all AI/ML unicorns run on AWS," said Matt Wood, VP of AI at AWS. "With this new effort, we will help startups launch and scale world-class businesses, providing the building blocks they need to unleash new AI applications that will impact all facets of how the world learns, connects, and does business."

AWS is only the latest tech giant to launch an AI startup fund; last week, Cisco launched one worth $1 billion. With demand for AI booming worldwide, companies are on a quest to acquire as much AI technology as possible, as quickly as possible, fueling an unprecedented period of dealmaking, investing and M&A.

About the Author

Gladys Rama (@GladysRama3) is the editorial director of Converge360.