Today we are announcing that we expect to spend more than £1.8 billion in the next two years building and operating data centres in the UK in order to meet the growing needs of our customers and to help strengthen the UK’s digital infrastructure. This will bring AWS’s total investment in the UK to more than double what it is today, since launching the AWS London Region in December 2016.
Over the last five years, we have been committed to investing in the UK to create the conditions for organisations in all industries to become global leaders in their use of technology. At AWS, we have the concept of a Region, which is a physical location around the world where we cluster data centres. We call each group of logical data centres an Availability Zone (AZ). In 2018, we added a third AZ to our London Region, allowing customers to architect highly scalable, fault-tolerant applications. We’ve also established edge locations across the UK which are connected to the AWS Region through the AWS network backbone, providing secure, reliable, low latency and high throughput network connectivity to organisations across the country.
Today, organisations of all sizes and across all industries in the UK are using AWS – from the fastest growing startups, to small and medium-sized businesses, the largest enterprises, public sector organisations, educational institutions, and government agencies. Customers like AstraZeneca, Barclays, easyJet, EDF, Formula 1, Just Eat, Genomics England, Hopin, ITV, the Ministry of Justice, Monzo, Morrisons, and NatWest Group are using AWS to lower costs, become more agile, and innovate faster.
In the UK, there are also thousands of businesses registered as AWS Partner Network (APN) partners across the country. The APN is an international programme that helps to connect AWS suppliers with new customers. While many of them remain small businesses, others have grown into significant businesses in their own right. According to research conducted by Public First, AWS APN partners reported earning around 60% of their revenue through their work with AWS. 41% of the APN partners surveyed said that their business would not be possible without AWS, and 58% said that AWS has helped them to win more customers.
“We are proud of the contributions we are making to the UK economy. Looking ahead, we know that the UK remains full of opportunity and we continue to be excited by the potential to continue supporting our customers, partners, and citizens across the UK over the years to come.”
Our dedication to delivering value in the UK extends beyond infrastructure investments. Public First research estimated that AWS is generating £8.7 billion in economic value for businesses across the country. This is the equivalent of 0.4% of the UK’s GDP, more value than the Premier League or the music industry. And we’re not stopping there. We’re also committed to creating the conditions for UK organisations to succeed through investments in skills and training, and sustainability.
Levelling up starts with skills, learning and development
There is no denying that there is still a large disparity in the uptake of cloud by businesses in different parts of the UK. For example, according to Public First’s research, if we could boost cloud prevalence in the North East to match that of London, it would help increase local productivity and wages by £1.4bn. Similar opportunities to use cloud to boost productivity also exist in Scotland and in the East of England.
To help level up the benefits of cloud, AWS has committed to investing hundreds of millions of pounds to provide free cloud computing skills training for 29 million people by 2025 – reaching people from all walks of life and all levels of technical knowledge, in more than 200 countries including the UK. We have launched a number of learning and skills programmes in UK including AWS Educate, AWS Academy, and AWS re/Start.
We first piloted AWS re/Start in the UK in 2017 as a way of building an inclusive, diverse global pipeline of new cloud talent and engaging individuals who otherwise might not have had access to this career path. The programme is now available in 95 cities in 38 countries around the world (as at December 2021). AWS re/Start prepares learners from unemployed and underemployed populations who have little technology experience, for careers in the cloud – at no cost to the learner. AWS re/Start is now operating in a number of cities across the UK including Belfast, Birmingham, Blackpool, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Manchester, and Newcastle. The programme also connects learners with potential employers, and AWS re/Start graduates have secured jobs at organisations such as Cancer Research, BT, and the Financial Times. Amazon also announced that it is creating 1,500 new apprenticeships across the UK in 2022, including more than 40 different schemes including software development, data analysis, and IT engineering.
Alongside our skills programmes, we also help our customers to develop an innovative learning culture and build in-house cloud skills. In 2021, we rolled out the AWS Digital Innovation Program, which is designed to help small and medium sized businesses to bring ideas to market faster. The pilot programme, which first launched in the East of England with regional community group Tech East, has since expanded across the UK including in Oxford, Milton Keynes, and Cambridge with the Silverstone Technology Cluster, and through the Scottish Government’s Digital Boost programme.
To help accelerate adoption of cloud computing in the public sector while saving the taxpayer money, AWS signed a MOU with the UK government; the One Government Value Agreement (OGVA). This will help improve digital skills across the civil service, and help Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) to take part in public sector contracts. As part of this agreement, AWS established a new digital skills fund, which will train over 6,000 civil servants in cloud computing at no cost to the Government. According to Public First, over 150 companies have used AWS through the Government’s G-Cloud to help them deliver their own services worth more than £1.3 billion to the Government; over half of these companies were categorised as SMEs at the time of delivery.
Working towards a greener, more sustainable future
We are committed to running our business in the most efficient and sustainable way possible in order to reduce our impact on the environment. In 2019, Amazon co-founded The Climate Pledge – a pledge to reach net-zero carbon emissions across our operations by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. As part of this, we are committed to powering our operations with 100% renewable energy by 2030, and we’re on a path to achieving this by 2025, five years ahead of our original target.
Amazon is the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world. In October 2021, Amazon’s first UK renewable energy project on the Kintyre Peninsula in Scotland became operational and started delivering clean energy to the grid. We purchase 100% of the power output from this wind farm, which is the first of five new, large-scale renewable energy projects in the UK enabled by Amazon and all built without public subsidy. Together, these projects will provide a total capacity of 545MW of clean energy, the equivalent of powering 620,000 homes, and supporting both the UK and Scotland in meeting their 2030 renewable energy targets.
Last year, Amazon announced its largest renewable energy project in the UK to date: the Moray West Wind Farm located off the coast of Scotland. Amazon will be the anchor and largest offtaker, contracting 350 MW of renewable energy. The project is expected to inject up to £500 million into the local Scottish economy throughout its lifespan, and during construction, will create and support more than 1,000 jobs in Scotland.
We’re not done investing in the UK. As a whole, Amazon has made direct investments in our UK operations of more than £32 billion since 2010. This includes both capital expenditure (such as the infrastructure we build, like our fulfilment centres, corporate offices and data centres), and operating expenditure (such as the jobs we create in the UK). Earlier this year we announced that we created a further 25,000 permanent roles across the UK in 2021 – including jobs in a variety of corporate and R&D functions in Amazon and AWS, as well as our operations teams in our fulfilment centres, sort centres, and delivery stations – taking our total permanent workforce to more than 70,000 in London, Manchester, Edinburgh, and Cambridge.
We will continue to push the boundaries of how technology – digital infrastructure and services – can help our customers and partners to innovate, scale, and grow, and we remain deeply committed to supporting the transformation of the UK’s digital economy.