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In an apparent bid to assert its presence in the rapidly expanding artificial intelligence (AI) landscape, Amazon Web Services (AWS)—the retail giant's sizable cloud computing arm—has introduced a fund of $100 million to bolster startups focusing on generative AI.
Known as the AWS Generative AI Innovation Center, the program is designed to connect AWS-affiliated data scientists, strategists, engineers, and solutions architects with customers and partners. The aim, in Amazon's words, is to "accelerate enterprise innovation and success with generative AI.”
Generative AI—including tools like ChatGPT or Midjourney—is a subset of artificial intelligence which, instead of learning to classify data or predict outcomes, is capable of generating new content. It creates anything from text and images to music, based on learned patterns. This cutting-edge AI can augment human productivity and creativity by churning out designs, ideas, and solutions that were previously inconceivable.
As per a recent McKinsey report, generative AI holds the potential to add a staggering $4.4 trillion to the global economy annually. The entire AI industry is estimated to touch the sky-high figure of $15.7 trillion by 2030, underscoring the colossal economic value of these technologies.
At the helm of the AWS Generative AI Innovation Center is Sri Elaprolu, who elaborated on the program's objectives.
"Our intent is to leverage our $100 million investment to foster people, technology, and processes around generative AI," Elaprolu told TechCrunch.
Aiming to work in tandem with Amazon Web Service customers, the Center will aid the ideation, design, and launch of new generative AI products and services.
Elaprolu also provided a glimpse into the future participants in the Generative AI Innovation Center program. Initially, AWS plans to prioritize customers who have demonstrated interest in generative AI. The program will focus on sectors such as financial services, healthcare, life sciences, media and entertainment, automotive, energy, utilities, and telecommunications.
The timing of this fund follows an AWS 10-week program for generative AI startups and the launch of Bedrock, a platform for building generative AI-powered apps. In collaboration with Nvidia, AWS aims to construct "next-generation" infrastructure for training AI models, supplementing its in-house Trainium hardware.
Venture capitalists and global firms are not blind to this immense opportunity. From Salesforce's $500 million bet to Workday's $250 million boost for AI and machine learning startups, the tide is high for AI investments.
Despite the market being vast and expanding, there are certainly challenges ahead. Bedrock faced a somewhat rocky start, with most cloud customers still waiting for access six weeks post-launch. Yet, Amazon's venture seems to be paying off with high-profile clients such as Stability AI and AI21 Labs choosing AWS as their preferred cloud provider.