Amazon Web Services(s amzn) and startups have always gone together like peanut butter and jelly, and Amazon wants it to stay that way. Toward that end the cloud services giant launched its sixth annual AWS Global Start-Up Challenge on Friday.
For this round, Amazon seeks companies attacking big data and high-performance computing; gaming; consumer applications and business applications. The winners in each category will get $50,000 in cash and $50,000 in AWS credits and services for a year. But the competition also brings exposure both to the media and to potential investors. Last year’s finalists met with VC firms including Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures, NEA, Accel and Madrona Venture Group, according to AWS.
As important as this opportunity is for the startups, keeping young companies coming back for cloud computing infrastructure is critical to Amazon as well especially as Microsoft(s msft), Google and other well-funded tech giants ramp up their infrastructure services. Amazon is courting larger enterprises with its, but this startup constituency, which flocked to Amazon because it’s so easy to ramp up compute and storage infrastructure with nothing more than a PC and a credit card, remains a critical.