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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Alexa Fund Seeks to Support Conversational AI

Alexa Fund Invests in Student Scientists and Entrepreneurs with Expanded Alexa Fellowship

We're thrilled to announce that we have selected 18 universities from around the world as recipients of the 2018-2019 Amazon Alexa Fellowship, fueling the future of conversational AI research, education, and entrepreneurship. We've been consistently impressed with the ingenuity of university students, and our decision to grow the Alexa Fellowship from four universities in 2017 to 18 universities in 2018 represents our belief in the potential these students have to invent the next big thing.

We Believe Voice Is the Future
Voice is the most natural, convenient interface and we believe it can change the way humans interact with technology. To achieve this reality, we need to solve many hard conversational AI challenges, ranging from automatic speech recognition to natural language understanding to text-to-speech. We must also help entrepreneurs build voice interfaces into their technologies.

We knew we’d need top engineers and scientists at Amazon working to solve these problems. But we also knew we’d need to make it easier and more accessible for smart people outside of the company to get involved with conversational AI. That's why we launched the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and Alexa Voice Services (AVS) and allocated $200 million to promising startups innovating with voice via the Alexa Fund.

Expanding Our Collaboration with Academia
Just as we engage developers to build with Alexa, it is important for us to support the academic community that continues to tackle the hardest of challenges that can advance voice technology. That’s why last year, we introduced the Alexa Fund Fellowship as a way to support researchers at top universities focused on speech and language technologies. Based on the success at the four original universities and interest among other universities, we're excited to iterate on and grow the program this year as the Alexa Fellowship.

While graduate students are uniquely positioned to accelerate conversational AI research and education, we've observed students with diverse backgrounds inventing new products and services that can benefit from adding voice interfaces. That's why we're tailoring the Alexa Fellowship to directly support two distinct groups of students with the Alexa Graduate Fellowship and the Alexa Innovation Fellowship. ... "

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