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Amazon boosts UK R&D with renewed focus on machine learning and drones

A new Amazon development centre set to open in Cambridge in the autumn will house scientists with expertise in areas from machine learning to data, speech and software.

Teams working on devices such as Kindle, Fire tablet, Fire TV Stick, Echo, Echo Dot and the new Echo Look, as well as Alexa, will move to the 60,000 sq ft site, which has capacity for more than 400 staff, from this autumn.

Once the new site opens, the current Development Centre building at Castle Hill will be used primarily for research and development for Prime Air, a delivery system from Amazon designed to safely get parcels to customers in 30 minutes or less using drones.

“We are constantly inventing on behalf of our customers, and our development centres in Cambridge, Edinburgh and London play a major role in Amazon’s global innovation story,” said Doug Gurr, UK country manager at Amazon [IRDX RAMZ]. “By the end of this year, we will have more than 1,500 innovation related roles here in Britain, working on everything from machine learning and drone technology to streaming video technology and Amazon Web Services.”

Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock said: “This is fantastic news – Amazon’s increased investment in developing cutting-edge technology in Cambridge is another vote of confidence in the UK as a world-leading centre of invention and innovation.”

Amazon has previously promised to create 5,000 new permanent roles across the country this year, bringing its full time workforce to 24,000. The new job opportunities range from software developers, engineers and technicians, to those seeking entry-level positions and on-the-job training.

An apprenticeship programme has also been launched around engineering, logistics and warehousing roles in fulfilment centres across the country, while Amazon Web Services re:Start, a free training and job placement programme for the UK, aims to educate 1,000 young adults as well as military veterans, reservists, and their spouses, on the latest software development and cloud computing technologies.

Amazon has also played an active role in the Cambridge community increasing awareness of and development of essential science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills. The company runs a STEM Ambassadors programme for students in the area, provides local school children tours of the Prime Air lab, held a Design A Drone competition, and funds the Amazon Women in Innovation Bursary programme helping underprivileged women into study for innovation-focused careers.

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