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Amazon Web Services announced a new award program today that’s designed to fund academic machine learning research using its cloud. The AWS Machine Learning Research Awards will provide one-time unrestricted awards to academic institutions, as well as credits for use with its cloud platform.

The move will help Amazon fuel a burgeoning research field that has the potential to radically transform the tech giant’s business and others around the globe. In addition, it helps AWS compete for mindshare among researchers, as other technology titans also offer similar services for AI exploration.

For example, Google unveiled its TensorFlow Research Cloud earlier this year, which is designed to provide academics with a pool of dedicated AI hardware to accelerate their research. Each cloud provider offers its own services for machine learning, and Amazon’s research grants could help attract more people to its platform.

In addition, some of the companies that are on the cutting edge of AI development today spring from research projects conducted in academic labs. By providing funding and technology services early in those projects’ lifecycles, AWS could go on to become the preferred cloud platform for key companies.

In addition to funding, award recipients will also receive training about how to build machine learning systems on AWS, as well as hands-on training with Amazon engineers. The company will also invite the winners to a seminar at its headquarters in Seattle, where they can discuss their work, plus interact with other researchers and engineers.

AWS already announced partnerships with several leading research institutions, including Carnegie Mellon University, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Harvard Medical School, the University of Washington, and the University of California, Berkeley.

This news comes as part of AWS’ massive re:Invent conference in Las Vegas. The company announced new tools earlier today that are designed to help with the creation of augmented and virtual reality experiences, plus new services that help companies broadcast video over the internet. AWS is expected to announce even more news over the coming days, including a slew of new and improved services.


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