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AWS takes defence-focused startup accelerator Europe-wide after UK programme success

Nearly 12 months after the launch of the UK version of the AWS defence-focused accelerator programme, the cloud giant is expanding it

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is seeking to capitalise on the success of the UK version of its defence-focused startup accelerator programme by taking it Europe-wide, the public cloud giant has confirmed.

The 2023 European Defence Accelerator will award up to $75,000 in AWS credits to 15 successful applicants, with the programme geared towards startups whose technologies can be used to help the defence and national security sector tackle a range of different problems.

They include mitigating cyber threats and climate change issues, as well as technologies that may help to bolster the cyber resilience, energy security and secure information-sharing capabilities of defence sector organisations.

The programme lasts four weeks, is made up of technical, business and mentorship components, and is being delivered in collaboration with UK government-backed technology firm Plexal.

Startups eligible to apply for the programme can be from all over the world, but must have an interest in working with organisations in the European defence sector specifically. They must also have existing customers, be revenue-generating businesses and be able to demonstrate how they would use Amazon’s cloud technologies to solve the defence sector’s problems.

In addition to AWS credits, participants will also receive training in how to use the cloud firm’s technologies, mentorship from defence sector organisations and technical subject matter experts, as well as business development, go-to-market business advice and investment strategy guidance.

“Applicants are evaluated based on several factors, including the project’s innovative and unique nature, the team’s ability to deliver a solution, creative uses of AWS services to develop the solution, and the overall value [of it] to defence customers,” said the company in a blog post, announcing the programme.

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The accelerator’s launch coincides with the onset of the one-day AWS Public Sector Symposium in Brussels, which is taking place on Tuesday 28 March 2023, and comes 10 months after the firm launched a similar initiative in the UK.

The UK version of the programme was the first of its kind for AWS, with its specific focus on the defence sector, and attracted more than 100 applications with 10 startups eventually going on to benefit.

Among them were firms that specialised in artificial intelligence (AI) analytics software, network visibility to prevent cyber attacks and threat intelligence tools.

Speaking to Computer Weekly around the time of the UK programme’s launch, Max Peterson, vice-president of worldwide public sector at AWS, said the startups selected for its accelerators reap numerous benefits.

“We help these startups launch entirely new businesses – usually digital-first businesses – and it shows the way for others in terms of how you can apply modern cloud infrastructure and put it to use,” he said. “These startups become the scaleups, and some of them [become] the unicorns that help drive economic growth around the world.

“It’s an important exercise for us because it continues to be about how we knock down the barriers, the things that people don’t think they can accomplish, because they haven’t seen somebody else do it,” said Peterson. “But when we talk to customers, you want to show them real-life examples of how it is possible to tackle some of the most intractable problems that we’ve got. It’s about getting that focus on customer problems; it’s about getting innovative organisations to think differently and solve it with cloud technology.”

Startups interested in participating in the programme have until 19 May 2023 to apply for entry.

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