New Delhi: Amazon Web Services (AWS) EdStart, AWS’s educational technology startup accelerator, was launched in India in June 2018 and focuses on addressing education problems unique to India. On a visit to India last week, Vincent Quah, Regional Head, Education, Research, Healthcare and Not-for-Profit Organizations, Worldwide Public Sector, Asia Pacific and Japan, Amazon Web Services talks about how EdStart is powering Indian edtech start ups. Edited excerpts:
What is the EdStart programme all about?
EdStart is a global programme designed to help entrepreneurs build the next generation of online learning, analytics, and campus management solutions on the AWS Cloud. The programme is designed to enable educational technology (edtech) startups to move faster with specially tailored benefits. Right now, we have two tiers in this programme. The first is the innovator tier, and the second is the member tier. They are primarily differentiated by how early start-ups are in their journey to become an edtech company. The Innovators Tier supports the earliest stage edtech start-ups and provides them with resources, technical assistance and exposure to a large community of fellow entrepreneurs besides giving them AWS promotional credits valued at $500. The members tier is for entrepreneurs to advance their business, driving further innovation and growing their footprint globally. AWS EdStart is focused on innovative teaching and learning technologies that create positive student outcomes.
What is the application criteria?
Start-ups can apply to join AWS EdStart if they are less than five years old and generate less than $10 million in annual revenue. The application is online and very simple. We also have an innovators application criteria where those start-ups that have been founded within the past two years, with annual revenues not exceeding $1 million can apply. I believe that AWS EdStart’s launch in India can help edtechs grow and scale rapidly, and provide learning and teaching resources to even the remotest areas of the country.
Why did you think of launching EdStart in India?
India is the third largest country in terms of investment in education technology, after China and the US. So India is an important market that we want to make available our EdStart programme. We find that edtech companies here are actually spearheading innovation with cutting edge technology and what better way for us to catalyse this market than to bring about a programme like this.
What is your long-term plan in India?
The message that we want to send out is inviting all the education technology startups in India to come and join us. Innovation has always been part and parcel of our DNA so we are delivering more innovation and innovative services to our customer. You know, AWS is a technology company, so we can’t say that we actually understand education. And so the combination of us being the technology services provider, the cloud service provider, and collaborating with the education expert, is a perfect combination, to bring the best of the technology and cloud services, with the knowledge of the education domain and solve a problem. The Indian startup community is one of the most robust and exciting in the world and we want to be part of this.
Tell us about some of the Indian EdStart customers.
I’d like to mention three members — Eckovation, enGuru and PlayAblo — who are using AWS to transform the learning experience and grow their user base. Social learning platform Eckovation, for instance, uses more than 20+ services offered by AWS. These include machine learning tools like Amazon SageMaker, large scale image processing for OMR, face and emotion recognition (using Amazon Rekognition) in the classroom to judge effectiveness. enGuru which is an app that teaches English for employability uses Amazon Polly, that enables them to offer voice support in Indian accents on non-Android devices. Similarly, PlayAblo, a gamified learning platform has been part of the edStart programme since June 2019 and offers a seamless experience over AWS cloud to learners across various channels (mobiles, tablets, browsers, AmazonAlexa).
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