Amazon’s AWS invests $230 million in cloud credits for generative AI startups

Amazon announced on Thursday an investment of $230 million in Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud credits aimed at supporting generative AI startups. This initiative underscores the intensifying competition among cloud providers to attract AI clients from their inception.

The program will offer startups an array of benefits including cloud credits, mentorship, and educational resources to foster the development of AI applications. Generative AI, which refers to AI systems capable of creating new data such as text, code, or images, stands to gain significantly from this support. The cloud credits will provide these early-stage startups with free access to essential computing power, diverse AI models, and the necessary infrastructure, provided they build their platforms on AWS.

Amazon is particularly interested in startups tackling challenges in healthcare, finance, and climate change. Eligible startups can receive up to $1 million each in AWS credits, which can be used to cover the costs of computing power, AI models, and other cloud-based resources required to develop and launch their applications. This initiative is a part of Amazon’s broader effort, which already includes offering $1 billion in cloud credits annually to startups, now specifically targeting those in the generative AI space.

Matt Wood, Vice President of AI Products at AWS, highlighted the advantages for participating startups, saying: “They’ll be able to iterate very quickly and pivot very quickly as necessary. Then ultimately, when they hit on that home run, they’ll be able to double down and get to the scale with security, responsibility, and consistency.”

Additionally, the credits will support 80 early-stage companies worldwide through the AWS Generative AI Accelerator program. Each startup in the accelerator could receive up to $1 million in AWS credits, Reuters reported.

Offering cloud credits to attract enterprises is a common practice among cloud providers such as Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, especially as cloud expenses can significantly increase with higher usage.

Earlier this year, Amazon expanded its cloud credit offerings to include models from providers like Anthropic, Meta, Mistral AI, and Cohere, as part of its strategy to enhance the market share of its AI platform.

The surging demand for AI has fueled increased use of cloud services, driving rapid growth for cloud providers. For example, AWS reported a 17% revenue increase to $9.42 billion in the first quarter, exceeding analyst expectations. However, the aggressive investment in AI startups by tech giants has also drawn scrutiny from regulators concerned about potential antitrust issues.