Amazon Web Services launches AI accelerator programme

7 years after its first accelerator program on Artificial Intelligence (AI), Amazon through its cloud services arm, Amazon Web Service (AWS), has launched an AWS Generative AI Accelerator program as a way to stay in touch with the disruptive technology.

The 10-week program is designed to advance the “most promising generative AI startups” to the next level globally by offering the cohort access to powerful AI models and tools, personalized go-to-market strategies, and machine learning stack optimization.

According to an official announcement by Howard Wright, the VP and Global Head of AWS Startups, the cohort will consist of 10 selected startups that will have been chosen from those who apply during the two-week period until April 17th. The chosen startups will benefit from access to networking opportunities with industry luminaries, potential investors, and customers.

Additionally, the companies will receive up to $300,000 in AWS credits to build their products and services on the AWS tech stack, as well as dedicated business and technical mentorship which will be matched based on industry vertical, market, and stage.

The program will begin on May 25 with an opening event and end with a Demo Day at San Fransisco on July 26th and 27th. On this day, startups will have the chance to showcase their product and service to the Generative AI community, including investors, press, and customers, to raise awareness for their company.

Important to note is that AWS does not plan on investing in any of the startups and does not yet have an AI/ML investment department.

Although the program is open to all startups, those already building on AWS will receive the most benefit from the accelerator’s dedicated AWS Solutions Architect team, who will support every step of their product development,” said Wright.

Is this a desperate move by Amazon?

The introduction of ChatGPT by OpenAI late last year has tremendously accelerated development in AI with companies releasing AI-based products more often than ever. Given that Alexa the speech assistant was one of the first widely used AI products, it might appear that Amazon has been out of the game in all of this.

As a result, the accelerator program appears to be a means for the company to stay relevant in a sector where it has been somewhat inactive during the boom.

However, according to Decrypt, experts disagree citing the AWS applications suite, which underpins a significant portion of the internet, as Amazon’s true strength.

“Instead of digging for gold, Amazon is in the business of selling shovels. What Amazon is realizing is that any successful A.I.-based business will need a ton of computing power,” Anish Mitra, former Vice President of Growth at Goldman Sachs, told Decrypt.

According to Mitra, despite not having developed consumer-facing apps like Google’s Bard and Microsoft’s integration with OpenAI’s API, Amazon will surely continue to have a seat at the AI table with AWS and other products for AI developers.

The company will continue spending more on user-friendly platforms enabling developers to create and train more refined and specialized models which will unlock billions of dollars worth of value over the next decade.

Tiago Amaral, founder of Inevitable – an A.I. education company iterated the same saying, “Amazon will do what it does best: become a platform.” He referenced AWS’s most recent collaboration with Generative AI model developer Hugging Face, which seeks to make the development of machine learning models much simpler and more accessible through tools such as Trainium and SageMaker.

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