Amazon today announced the expansion of the Alexa Fund Fellowship, adding 14 new university partners, including MIT, University of Cambridge, and Dartmouth University. As part of the expansion, the Alexa Graduate Fellowship and Alexa Innovation Fellowship were also introduced.
Participating education institutions will use the funding to support novel applications of voice technology, advances in conversational AI, and initiatives to teach students how to create conversational experiences.
“We want to increase the quantity and quality of students focused on advancing the capabilities of spoken language systems. We see these investments as a way to broaden access to voice technology and complement the work being done by our researchers and scientists across Amazon,” Alexa Fund worldwide corporate development director Paul Bernard told VentureBeat in an email.
The Alexa Graduate Fellowship is for PhD students and postdoctoral students working on issues imperative to voice computing, such as machine learning related to speech recognition or text-to-speech translation. The Alexa Innovation Fellowship is centered around the promotion of entrepreneurial centers on college campuses.
Alexa graduate fellow James Thorne wants to explore ways to verify information or carry out fact-checking with the Alexa Skills Kit.
Alexa innovation fellow Alexander Fred-Ojala at University of California, Berkeley will encourage students to create final projects using Alexa Voice Service to embed the AI assistant in devices or the Alexa Skills Kit to create a voice app.
Carnegie Mellon University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Southern California, and University of Waterloo — the four original university partners — will continue to receive fellowship funding.
Recipients of the Graduate Fellowship include the International Institute of Information Technology in Hyderabad, India and University of Cambridge in England, expanding upon the Alexa Fund Fellowship’s presence outside the United States. The University of Waterloo in Canada was the first school outside the United States last year.
The Alexa Fellowship is paid for by the Alexa Fund, a $200 million investment by Amazon in the development of the burgeoning voice ecosystem.