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Amazon celebrates the UK’s most popular innovations to mark 25th anniversary

Amazon.co.uk launched in the UK in 1998 to make customers’ lives easier with great value, selection and convenience from its most popular products. Since then, our customer obsession continues to be the driving force behind some of our key innovations that support our communities, small businesses and employees.

Amazon is one of the UK’s top 10 private sector employers, with around 75,000 people across the UK helping to innovate on behalf of customers every day. This includes over 2,700 employees in our development centers across the UK, including Cambridge, Edinburgh, London and Swansea, working on projects such as Prime Video, Alexa and a personalized shopping experience in our online stores.

There are currently over 100,000 small and medium-sized sellers (SMEs) based in the UK selling their products in Amazon stores around the world. Last year, half of these companies sold to customers outside the UK, recording more than £3.3bn in export sales.

Read more below and explore the interactive timeline for a snapshot of some of the UK’s most popular innovations over the past 25 years.

Obsess on behalf of clients

Creating the best streaming experience for customers: Amazon Prime Video’s London-based engineering and applied sciences team developed the cross-platform delivery solution that makes it possible for customers to watch Prime Video on more than one billion devices worldwide, including TVs, tablets and mobile devices.

Powering the latest in artificial intelligence and voice assistants: The Cambridge development center opened in 2017 and includes the Amazon Alexa Knowledge team that uses a novel machine learning approach to enable Alexa speech quality, different speaking styles and varied emotions.

Redefining in-store shopping: Amazon Fresh grocery stores arrived in the UK in 2021, the country’s first grocery store to offer Just Walk Out (JWO) technology, made possible by AI and machine learning technologies, including computer vision, fusion sensors and deep learning.

Amazon Fresh’s newest store on Liverpool Street.

Address skills shortages and inspire future generations

Fulfilling career ambitions through adult education: In 2012, Amazon launched Career choice, a program that provides funding for adult education, offering to prepay 95% of tuition fees and reimburse employees for nationally recognized courses. So far, more than 100,000 participants have benefited from the opportunity to gain new skills and qualifications needed to pursue their career aspirations at Amazon or elsewhere.

A decade providing opportunities through learning: This September, we celebrate a decade of our learning program. With over 1,600 apprentices currently taking part, we are one of the largest and most extensive apprenticeship programs in the UK. To date, Amazon has offered 5,000 apprenticeship programs in the UK and includes 40 programs including mechatronics, automation, software development and more. This is in addition to supporting over 350 SMEs to recruit and upskill over 100 students undertaking technology, engineering and IT related apprenticeships through tax transfer funding.

Cat Burns and Remel London talk apprenticeships at Amazon's Dartford fulfillment center

An inclusive and diverse global pipeline of new cloud talent: AWS re/start It was first piloted in the UK in 2017 to help develop and engage people who would not otherwise have had access to a career in cloud technology. Since then, it has reached more than 180 cities in more than 60 countries. Another UK pilot is AWSGetITa fully funded educational program and competition designed to inspire students aged 12-14, especially girls, to consider a future in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Inspiring the next generation of engineers: Future Amazon engineer Launched in 2019, a childhood to career program to increase access to computer science education for students from underserved and underrepresented communities

Delivering the future

Transforming logistics with robotics: In 2016, our first robotics arrived at our Dunstable and Doncaster Fulfillment Centers (FCs). Our new Stockton FC will feature three floors of Amazon Robotics technology to ensure the most modern, attractive and safe environment for employees.

Invest in clean energy: Amazon is on track to power its operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025. In 2022, 90% of the electricity consumed by Amazon was powered by renewable energy sources, thanks to more than 400 wind and solar projects
worldwide and is the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the UK and globally. Amazon has enabled five utility-scale renewable energy projects in the UK. The first wind project commissioned, Amazon wind farm in Scotland – Mount Türkiye 3 in Scotland, two will soon follow at Kennoxhead and another at Moray West Wind Farm, the largest corporate commitment to a renewable energy project in the UK to date; along with a site in Ballykeel in Northern Ireland.

Reduce carbon emissions with transportation electrification: We introduced electric vehicles in 2020 and added eHGV, electric cargo bikes and walkers in 2022, making millions of deliveries a year, easing traffic congestion and improving air quality in UK cities including Glasgow, London and Manchester. We continue to invest more than £300 million in the decarbonisation of transport in the UK over the coming years.

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