The , Amazon’s $200 million venture fund for voice-focused startups, and Techstars today revealed the inaugural cohort of companies participating in Alexa Next Stage. , which was unveiled in March, is a pilot accelerator tailored to later-stage companies with a mature product offering and growing customer adoption. It’s designed as a virtual program, allowing companies to participate from anywhere and conferring access to a global network of experts, mentors, business leaders, and investors, as well as support for Alexa integrations and opportunities.

The pandemic appears to have supercharged voice app usage, which was already on an . According to a study by NPR and Edison Research, the of voice-enabled device owners who use commands at least once a day rose between the beginning of 2020

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