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Amazon creates Alexa Fund Fellowship to support voice technology education and research

Carnegie Mellon University

Amazon today announced the creation of the Alexa Fund Fellowship, an initiative to fund university research and curriculum related to voice technology.

The Alexa Fund Fellowship will fund fellows who support the development of undergraduate or graduate school curriculum in fields like text-to-speech, conversational artificial intelligence, automatic speech recognition, and natural language understanding.

The first batch of colleges to receive funding are University of Waterloo, Johns Hopkins University, Carnegie Mellon University, and University of Southern California (USC).

“The initial cohort of universities was selected in part for the quality of their technology transfer and entrepreneurship programs, and we’re excited to work with them to support Alexa Fund Fellows interested in commercializing their work,” said Amazon VP Douglas Booms in a blog post today.

At Carnegie Mellon and University of Waterloo, Alexa fellows are assisting courses while a doctoral student at Johns Hopkins University will support students taking classes in areas like speech recognition.

The $100 million Alexa Fund was created in June 2015 to support voice technology innovation and fund companies like smart thermostat company Ecobee and home intercom maker Nucleus.

“We’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and speech science, and we believe more education and research among academic institutions is key to fueling progress in the space. We also recognize the potential for this research to produce viable business concepts,” Booms said.

The Alexa Accelerator was also paid for by the Alexa Fund.

On Wednesday, Techstars named Aviel Ginzburg managing director of the Alexa accelerator, a 13-week startup accelerator to take place this summer in Seattle. The inaugural batch of 10 companies will receive $120,000 in exchange for 6 percent of equity. Want to learn more? Alexa will answer nearly a dozen questions about the Alexa Accelerator.

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