Facebook wants developers in the Middle East and Africa to create innovative bots in three categories: gaming and entertainment; productivity and utility; and social good.
Teams in its Bots for Messenger Developer Challenge can have up to three members. The initiative aligns with Facebook’s “commitment to promote innovation in the Middle East and Africa by providing developers and start-ups with the tools they need to build, grow, monetise, and measure products and services,” it said.
“Facebook grew out of a hacker culture and thrives by promoting innovation on new platforms,” it added.
Bots must comply with all developer guidelines and rules, and use only the Messenger Platform API.
They will be judged on technical quality, non-technical quality – the degree of excellence of the bot, taking into account its distinctive attributes and characteristics – and user experience.
For each region, one winning team will be chosen from each category, and will receive $20,000 and three months of Facebook mentorship.
The 60 finalist teams will win a Gear VR and mobile phone, one hour of Facebook mentorship and tools and services from FbStart, a programme designed to help early stage mobile start-ups build and grow their bots.
Facebook first launched bot support for Messenger almost a year ago.