The 2019 Innovation Challenge has closed. Winners will be announced soon. 

The Challenge Prompt

Build an AI character that can have conversations with individual viewers, listeners or consumers. Broadcasters should be able to define and train the character’s personality.

The PILOT Innovation Challenger funded 1 to 2 teams up to $150,000 to develop a prototype that addresses our Challenge Prompt. Winners will build a working proof of concept and be able to demonstrate the proof of concept at NAB Show 2020 in Las Vegas, Nev.


Submissions Open

September 17, 2019

Submissions Close

October 18, 2019

Finalists Notified

Mid November 2019

Winner(s) Announced

December 2019

Present at NAB Show

April 18-22, 2020

Why Is This Important to Broadcasters?

Various forms of conversational AI are prevalent across many industries. While most people would consider Siri, Alexa or Google to be conversational, other less obvious one-on-one conversations are happening in many other places. Chatbots are heavily used for customer service, administrative and general knowledge tasks across numerous industries.

Broadcasters have unique relationships with the communities they serve through the on-air personalities who viewers and listeners trust. An app that allows viewers and listeners to have one-on-one conversations with stations would give broadcasters the ability to “super-serve” each member of the community, while uniquely representing the broadcaster.


In addition to funding of up to $150,000, winners also receive support from PILOT including:

  • Help interpreting the scope of the project as decision points are encountered.
  • Feedback and resources from our members and partners as needed (based on partner availability; PILOT cannot guarantee meeting all requests).
  • Periodic meetings with PILOT team to answer questions.
  • Trip for two to NAB Show in Las Vegas to demonstrate a working prototype at the world’s largest media and entertainment show.

What We Expect

We’re looking to fund one or two teams to build a conversational broadcaster application and backend AI system that radio and TV stations can train with their own desired personalities and unique content. These personalities could mimic real life talent, or be new creations of the station, and serve as a starting point for a station wanting to experiment with this type of AI application. The conversation could be held via text, audio/voice, video or any other platform you can think of.

Winners will be expected to develop a working demo, simple interface for broadcasters to use and detailed documentation.


Open to individuals, teams of individuals, companies, academic institutions and non-profit organizations (each a “Participant”) which are legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia who are at least the age of 18 at the time of Submission. For more information, view the full Challenge rules.

Selection Process 

Up to 5 finalists will be selected by a panel of industry experts based on the judging criteria. The finalists will be notified in mid November and continue to the final phase where they will be interviewed by a panel of judges from the PILOT team. One or two winners will be selected and notified in December 2019. Once winners are notified, the teams may begin development.

Judging Criteria

Judging will be based on the following criteria:

  • Likelihood of success How clear is the outlined process, and how likely is it that the team will produce the proposed deliverables and demonstration? How realistic is the budget associated with the proposed deliverables? (50%)
  • Quality / Relevance / UsabilityHow well does the proposed solution meet the challenge question and the needs of the broadcasting industry? (50%)