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Amazon competition to highlight cloud usage among startups

The first prize includes $50,000 in cash and $50,000 in service credits

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.

Cloud services are a good fit for startups. They have leveled the playing field as smaller companies gain the resources to compete in ways that were very expensive and often cost-prohibitive in the past, according to Amazon.

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 US$50,000 in cash and $50,000 in service credits, premium support services for and technical mentorship from Amazon Web Services for one year, as well as a possible investment offer from Amazon, the company said in a statement.

Entries will be judged on their implementation of Amazon's cloud services; originality and creativity of the business; likelihood of long-term success and scalability; 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 each from the Americas, Asia Pacific, and Europe, 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 Palo Alto, California, to attend the final round of judging, according to Amazon.

All eligible contestants will receive $25 in service credits, and 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 said in an FAQ on its website.

Entries must be received no later than midnight U.S. Pacific Time on Oct. 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.

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