AWS Imagine Grant launches in UK to fund charity cloud-based tech projects | Computer Weekly

AWS Imagine Grant launches in UK to fund charity cloud-based tech projects | Computer Weekly

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is offering third-sector organisations in the UK the opportunity to apply for a grant worth up $50,000 to help them launch a cloud-based technology project that could bring repeatable benefits to other charities in the same field.

Any UK-registered charity can apply for the AWS Imagine Grant, which will also see recipients provided with promotional credits worth up to $16,000 and technical assistance from AWS technology specialists to help finesse their projects too.

The grant was announced at the AWS Public Sector Summit in London on Tuesday 21 March 2023, and is the UK version of a similar initiative the cloud giant has run in the US since 2018, which has paid out more than $6m in funding to 66 non-profits to-date.

“This grant is a go further, faster award available to any UK registered charity,” said Chris Hayman, director of the UK public sector at AWS during the Public Sector Summit’s opening keynote.

“The opportunities are limitless if you think about artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, internet of things, high-performance computing…you name it. This really is an opportunity [for these organisations] to make a step change in the way they deliver outcomes for their charity.”

During a follow-up interview with Computer Weekly at the summit, Hayman said the programme will start accepting entries for the initiative in May 2023, which can vary from pilot projects, proof of concepts to existing initiatives that use technology in a “unique way”.

As examples, Hayman shared details of some of the projects that had secured funding through the US version of the programme, including a Texas-based food bank that is using cloud technologies to optimise the way they distribute supplies to people in need of its services.

Another beneficiary of the Imagine Grant in the US is an organisation known as Jacaranda Health, which is a Kenya-based non-profit that is focused on ending preventable maternal and newborn deaths.

The organisation secured its grant by using the AWS cloud to create a health platform that uses AI to connect mothers with prenatal care information, as well as referrals to healthcare facilities so they can access treatment in a timely way.

“For me, it’s a really inspiring way of [creating] innovation and ideas, so charities can [improve what they do] and their outcomes, so we are definitely keen to see what people make of it,” said Hayman.

“And it’s not just promotional credits [recipients receive] – it’s cash funding, but also importantly access to AWS specialists and staff if they don”t necessarily have the skills [to bring their projects to fruition]. We can help them.”

He added: “It can be the kernel of an idea that will go through a judging evaluation process, because by no means does it need to be an entirely, fully baked idea. There is going to be some iteration on [these ideas] for sure.”

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