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August 22, 2018Kevin Crews
We're thrilled to announce that we have selected 18 universities from around the world as recipients of the 2018-2019 Amazon Alexa Fellowship, fueling the future of conversational AI research, education, and entrepreneurship. We've been consistently impressed with the ingenuity of university students, and our decision to grow the Alexa Fellowship from four universities in 2017 to 18 universities in 2018 represents our belief in the potential these students have to invent the next big thing.
Voice is the most natural, convenient interface and we believe it can change the way humans interact with technology. To achieve this reality, we need to solve many hard conversational AI challenges, ranging from automatic speech recognition to natural language understanding to text-to-speech. We must also help entrepreneurs build voice interfaces into their technologies.
We knew we’d need top engineers and scientists at Amazon working to solve these problems. But we also knew we’d need to make it easier and more accessible for smart people outside of the company to get involved with conversational AI. That's why we launched the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and Alexa Voice Services (AVS) and allocated $200 million to promising startups innovating with voice via the Alexa Fund.
Just as we engage developers to build with Alexa, it is important for us to support the academic community that continues to tackle the hardest of challenges that can advance voice technology. That’s why last year, we introduced the Alexa Fund Fellowship as a way to support researchers at top universities focused on speech and language technologies. Based on the success at the four original universities and interest among other universities, we're excited to iterate on and grow the program this year as the Alexa Fellowship.
While graduate students are uniquely positioned to accelerate conversational AI research and education, we've observed students with diverse backgrounds inventing new products and services that can benefit from adding voice interfaces. That's why we're tailoring the Alexa Fellowship to directly support two distinct groups of students with the Alexa Graduate Fellowship and the Alexa Innovation Fellowship.
The Alexa Graduate Fellowship fosters research and education by supporting PhD and post-doctoral students specializing in conversational AI. Graduate Fellowships include funding to cover tuition and a competitive stipend and mentoring from an Alexa scientist. Amazon provides Alexa devices to each university for use in coursework leveraging Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and Alexa Voice Services (AVS) for students to learn about voice technology through hands-on projects and labs.
We selected 10 universities to receive the 2018-2019 Alexa Graduate Fellowship based on a number of criteria including their research interests, planned coursework and existing conversational AI curriculum. The 10 universities are:
The Alexa Innovation Fellowship empowers entrepreneurship center faculty to serve as expert resources in voice interfaces on their campus. Innovation Fellows receive funding, Alexa devices, hardware kits and regular training. The funding and devices are intended to help support student startups in pursuit of integrating voice with their technology using Alexa’s developer services, ASK and AVS. The training opportunities will help demonstrate the art-of-the-possible with voice by introducing Innovation Fellows to successful Alexa Fund-backed entrepreneurs and providing them with resources for their students.
We selected 10 universities to receive the 2018-2019 Alexa Innovation Fellowship based on a number of criteria including their technology entrepreneurship curriculum, student access to grant funding and experience with Alexa. The 10 universities are:
You can read more about our 2018-2019 Alexa Fellowship class here. We will provide periodic profiles of Alexa Fellows and their work on the blog—you can sign up to be notified of these updates along with information about any future call for proposals for the 2019-2020 Alexa Fellowship class.