In mid June, Amazon announced the 11 focus areas of the 2018 Amazon Research Awards, a grant program that provides up to $80,000 in funding and $20,000 in Amazon Web Services Promotional Credits to academic researchers investigating topics related to machine learning.
This is the fourth year of the program, which in 2017 funded 49 projects, at an average of more than $75,000. Each grant is intended to support the work of one or two graduate students or postdocs, under the supervision of a tenured or tenure-track faculty member, for one year.
Researchers may, however, re-apply to the program to extend their funding. Of the 18 award recipients in 2016, three — Kristen Grauman of the University of Texas at Austin, Matthew Blaschko of the Catholic University of Leuven, and Cordelia Schmid of the French National Institute for computer science and applied mathematics — were funded again in 2017.
Cordelia Schmid Kristen Grauman Matthew Blaschko
“We believe that a vital innovation ecosystem depends on the interplay between academic and industry research,” says Ralf Herbrich, director of Amazon’s Core Artificial Intelligence group. “Amazon Research Awards is a program where we not only support academic research in areas that are relevant for our customers, but we also work hand-in-hand with our academic partners through a dedicated research contact at Amazon.”
Last year’s grant recipients represented 28 universities in six countries, and their projects spanned topics from privacy protection in big-data analytics, to automatic photo and video captioning, to robotics.
Recipients have access to Amazon data sets that are already public, such as the Amazon Bin Image Dataset, but not to non-public data. As the funding is granted to the primary investigator’s home institution as an unrestricted gift, Amazon retains no intellectual-property rights to the resulting work. Amazon also encourages the publication of the research results and the release of related code under open-source licenses.
Each project is assigned an Amazon research contact, who is available for consultation and monitors the project’s progress.
Grant proposals, which should not exceed four pages, will be accepted starting August 20. The final deadline for submissions is September 15.
The focus areas for the 2018 Amazon Research Awards are
- Computer vision
- Knowledge management and data quality
- Machine learning algorithms and theory
- Natural language processing
- Operations research and optimization
- Search and information retrieval
- Security, privacy and abuse prevention