AWS pledges an additional $230 million to support AI startups

The Amazon Web Services (AWS) logo pictured at Mobile World Congress 2023 in Barcelona.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is promising to invest up to $230 million to help startups develop generative AI applications.

On offer are AWS credits, mentorship, and education, with part of the new cash going to fund the second cohort of the AWS Generative AI Accelerator. This provides hands-on expertise and up to $1 million in credits to 80 early-stage startups that are using generative AI.

"For more than 18 years, AWS has helped more startups to build, launch, and scale their business than any other cloud provider — it’s no coincidence that 96% of all AI/ML unicorns run on AWS," said Matt Wood, vice president for artificial intelligence Products at AWS.

"With this new effort, we will help startups launch and scale world-class businesses, providing the building blocks they need to unleash new AI applications that will impact all facets of how the world learns, connects, and does business."

The successful startups can use their AWS credits to access AWS compute, storage, and database technologies, as well as the AWS Trainium and AWS Inferentia2 energy-efficient AI chips.

Credits can also be used on Amazon SageMaker, a fully-managed service that helps companies build and train their own foundation models, as well as to access models and tools to build generative AI applications through Amazon Bedrock.

The 10-week program is focused on areas such as financial services, healthcare and life sciences, media and entertainment, business, and climate change, with participants given sessions on ML performance enhancement, stack optimization, and go-to-market strategies.

Participants will be matched with business and technical mentors based on their industry vertical. They will also have access to industry experts, technology, and technical sessions from NVIDIA, the program’s presenting partner, and be invited to join the NVIDIA Inception program, designed to nurture cutting-edge startups.

AWS launched the program last year, initially helping 21 firms.

"AWS has been instrumental in enabling us to scale our generative AI platform to meet the rapidly growing demand from our global user community. Their robust generative AI infrastructure helped us reduce inferencing costs by 60% and accelerate our language model inference speeds by up to 35%," said Jachin Bhasme, co-founder and COO of Leonardo.AI.

"The accelerator was also an incredible experience for us. The business and technical mentorship we received and the connections we made played a crucial role in shaping our product and strategy."

However, the company has been providing startups with AWS Promotional Credits since 2020, handing over a total of nearly $1 billion in that time.

AWS isn’t alone in supporting startups

Other tech giants are also funneling money into startup support programs. Late last year, for example, Microsoft announced plans to support high-growth startups to accelerate the training and development of large language models (LLMs) and deep learning models.

It promised to give Y Combinator (YC) startups and those in its own incubator scheme access to Azure AI Infrastructure options for high-end GPU virtual machine clusters.

Google also launched a new accelerator for AI startups in the US and Canada earlier this year, offering 10 weeks of hands-on mentorship and technical project support to startups using AI in their core service or product.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist writing for publications including the BBC, Private Eye, Forbes, Raconteur and specialist technology titles.