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March 02, 2017Douglas Booms
Voice technology carries enormous promise, as many people know from their interactions with Alexa, the voice service that powers devices like Amazon Echo. Our teams here at Amazon are working hard to unlock that potential, but innovation requires a collective effort, from large companies like ours to two-person startups, and from casual hobbyists to major academic institutions.
Today, we’re excited to announce the Alexa Fund Fellowship, a new program to support universities and researchers focused on transformative voice technologies such as text-to-speech (TTS), natural language understanding (NLU), automatic speech recognition (ASR) and conversational artificial intelligence (AI).
Alexa Fund Fellows will receive funding, access to Alexa devices, and mentoring from an Alexa Science team member to develop an undergraduate or graduate curriculum around one or more of these disciplines. The year-long program culminates in a demo day where students can showcase their work for peers, university faculty and members of the Alexa team.
We’re also pleased to announce our first group of university participants: Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Johns Hopkins University, University of Southern California (USC), and University of Waterloo. Both Carnegie Mellon and Waterloo have already chosen fellows and begun offering classes for engineering students, while courses from Johns Hopkins and USC will begin in fall 2017.[Read More]
November 30, 2016Douglas Booms
For over a year, the Alexa Fund has been investing in promising startups that are fueling speech technology advances and voice application innovation. Today, we are excited to announce the Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars. The accelerator is the first of its kind at Amazon and another initiative from the Alexa Fund to champion builders, developers, and entrepreneurs innovating with voice technology.
The Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars, will focus on Alexa domains, including, but not limited to, such areas as connected home, wearables and hearables, enterprise, communications, connected car, health and wellness, and enabling technologies. It will also give us the opportunity to work with exciting startups from around the world, and along the way, we expect to see many new applications and innovations we haven’t even imagined.
The Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars, will begin accepting applications to the program in January 2017. Following a rigorous review process, 10-12 selected finalists will come together in Seattle to take part in an intensive 13-week program, during which time they’ll be matched with mentors from Amazon and Techstars to develop their technologies and business models. The program begins in July 2017 and comes to an eventfulclose in October 2017 with the Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars Demo Day, giving the companies the opportunity to showcase their products and meet with investors.
The Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars, is part of the fast-growing Alexa Fund, which now includes 22 investments in companies that range from early- to late-stage. To share more about the accelerator, program leaders from the Alexa Fund and Techstars will host information sessions in places like Seattle, San Francisco, New York City, Boston, London, Berlin, and Tel Aviv over the coming months. Visit the Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars page to learn more and to stay tuned to updates.