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Amazon announces the sponsorship of 12 teams to participate in the Alexa Prize university competition

Twelve university teams from across the globe will compete to build a socialbot on Alexa that converses coherently and engagingly on popular topics for 20 minutes

SEATTLE, 2016-Nov-16 — /EPR Retail News/ — Today (Nov. 14, 2016), Amazon announced the sponsorship of 12 teams to participate in the Alexa Prize, an annual university competition dedicated to accelerating the field of conversational artificial intelligence (AI).

“The response to the Alexa Prize challenge has been incredibly positive. With applications from over 100 incredibly well-qualified teams from 22 countries, we were unable to pick just 10 to sponsor,” said Rohit Prasad, Vice President and Head Scientist, Amazon Alexa. “We are eager to see what students from the 12 sponsored teams around the world—including one team of undergrads—create with Alexa.”

More than one hundred teams from leading universities across 22 countries applied to participate in the Alexa Prize competition. The selected teams are:

  • Carnegie-Mellon University—Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Team Name: CMU Magnus
  • Carnegie-Mellon University—Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Team Name: TBD
  • Czech Technical University in Prague—Prague, Czech Republic; Team Name: eClub
  • Heriot-Watt University—Edinburgh, Scotland, UK; Team Name: WattSocialBot
  • Princeton University—Princeton, NJ, USA; Team Name: Princeton Alexa
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute—Troy, NY, USA; Team Name: BAKAbot
  • University of California, Berkeley—Berkeley, CA, USA; Team Name: Machine Learning @ Berkeley
  • University of California, Santa Cruz—Santa Cruz, CA, USA; Team Name: SlugBots
  • University of Edinburgh—Edinburgh, Scotland, UK; Team Name: Edina
  • University of Montreal—Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Team Name: MILA Team
  • University of Trento—Trento, Italy; Team Name: Roving Minds
  • University of Washington—Seattle, WA, USA; Team Name: HuskyBot

The goal of the inaugural competition is to have university teams build socialbots on Alexa that will converse with humans on popular topics and news events. The team with the highest-performing socialbot will win the $500,000 prize. Additionally, an award of $1 million will be granted to the winning team’s school if their socialbot achieves the grand challenge of conversing coherently and engagingly for 20 minutes. In addition to receiving a $100,000 stipend for participating, the 12 teams selected for Amazon sponsorship will receive Alexa-enabled devices, free Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing services, and support from the Amazon Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) team. Students will build their socialbots using ASK, which tens of thousands of developers are already using to build new skills on Alexa.

Beginning in April 2017, as part of the research and judging process, millions of Alexa customers will have the opportunity to converse with the socialbots on popular topics. The feedback from Alexa users will be a factor in selecting the best socialbots to advance to the finals. The winning university team will be announced at AWS re:Invent in November 2017.

For Official Rules for the Alexa Prize please visit

About Amazon

Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, and Alexa are some of the products and services pioneered by Amazon. For more information, visit

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Source:, Inc.

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