Amazon Web Services contest to highlight innovative cloud services

Amazon Web Services has opened the fifth annual AWS Start-Up Challenge, a contest that aims to recognize innovative uses of its cloud computing platform, the company said on Monday.

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Amazon Web Services has opened the fifth annual AWS Start-Up Challenge, a contest that aims to recognise innovative uses of its cloud computing platform by smaller companies.

Cloud services are a good fit for startups, according to Amazon. They have levelled the playing field as smaller companies gain the resources to compete in ways that were often prohibitively expensive in the past.

This year the competition has expanded its footprint and is open to entries from the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The first prize is $50,000 (£30,000) in cash and $50,000 in service credits, premium support services and technical mentorship from Amazon Web Services for one year, as well as a possible investment offer from Amazon, the company said.

Entries will be judged on their implementation of Amazon's cloud services, the originality and creativity of the business, likelihood of long term success and how well the business addresses a need in the marketplace, Amazon said.

Before the overall winner is crowned, Amazon will select 15 regional semi-finalists: five from the Americas, five from Asia Pacific, and five from Europe, the Middle East and Africa. They will each receive $2,500 in web service credits. From these, a minimum of six finalists will be chosen and awarded a package of $10,000 in credits and a trip to the US to attend the final round of judging, according to Amazon.

All eligible contestants will receive $25 in service credits. To be eligible, companies must have generated less than $10 million in annual revenue and received no more than $10 million in outside funding, Amazon stated in a FAQ. Entries must be received no later than midnight US Pacific Time on October 2.

The 2010 edition of the AWS Start-Up Challenge attracted more than 1,500 applications from 22 countries across North America, Asia Pacific and Europe, according to Amazon.