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Amazon launches bursary to encourage women to study tech

During the AWS Summit in London, Amazon held an invite-only session to showcase its UK research and development

Online retailer Amazon has announced three bursary schemes in a bid to attract women from low-income backgrounds into IT.

The company said the bursaries will be used to support female undergraduates taking computing engineering courses at the universities of Edinburgh, King’s College, London and Cambridge.

Amazon has also announced it will be recruiting 1,000 additional jobs, on top of the 2,500 it had already announced, in time for the Christmas shopping frenzy.

Amazon UK country manager Doug Gurr said: “We want to foster the next generation of tech superstars. Through the Amazon in the UK Women in Engineering Bursary scheme, we will give financial support. We hope this will help to grow innovation in the UK.”

He added that the UK has played a significant role in the development of IT. “Digital innovation was started in the UK. Pretty much all the stuff we do is based on talent. Everyone of the 15,000 people who work for us in the UK is innovating.”

Amazon has three research and development (R&D) centres in Cambridge, Edinburgh and London, supporting the company’s global R&D initiatives.

According to Gurr, Amazon has 1,000 silicon valley jobs based in the UK, supporting global projects. These include work on drones and the Amazon Alexa speech query technology in Cambridge, enhancing media searches in Edinburgh and the development of apps for Prime video and TV services in London.

The UK government’s National Technology Adviser, Liam Maxwell, said Amazon’s announcements demonstrated confidence in Britain. During a presentation at the AWS Summit in London, Maxwell discussed the importance of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud in the UK.

“Amazon in 20 years has grown massively,” he said. “One of those core components of any digital country is to have an Amazon region. AWS is a central feature of UK industry and the Amazon Marketplace is growing very fast.”

The UK region will be significant for government, added Maxwell. “The Amazon region in the UK at the end of this year is going to bring a massive change to government technology. For so long people haven’t been using on-demand public cloud services because they feel they want to have data resident in the UK,” he said. Maxwell estimated the savings in government of using a UK public cloud could be in the order of £100m over five years.

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