With the deadline for applications for our 2021 Innovation Challenge rapidly approaching, we have been getting questions from startups and those in the startup community about the competition. Those who are thinking about applying are welcome to join our final office hours, Wednesday, July 7 at 2 p.m. ET, to get last minute questions answered. In the meantime, here are some of the most frequent questions we’ve received.

Innovation Challenge Apply NowQ: Is my startup too big or too small for this competition?

A: If you are asking yourself this question, you’re probably exactly the right size. We don’t have a specific requirement about revenue, funding, or number of employees. If you have a product or prototype that is ready to be shown to potential customers, partners, or investors at the NAB Show, then you’re neither too big nor too small.

Q: How long does the application take?

A: Aside from biographical information, the application has 8 questions that allow for free-form answers. It can vary, but some applicants should be able to finish this in about 30 minutes, while it may take others somewhat longer. Don’t be intimidated by the length allowed for the answers – this is a ceiling, not a floor. If you can answer the question in one or two sentences or a link to your website, that’s better than using the entire space.

Q: The application asks about sources of funding from the broadcast, media, or technology industry – how does this impact my chances of winning?

A: Whether or not you have funding from members of the broadcast, media, or technology industry will not directly impact your chances for success – our judging is based entirely on three judging criteria: readiness, relevance, and viability. We are asking about your sources of funding for two reasons. First, while we certainly don’t expect applicants to have already secured funding from broadcasters or related industries, if they have, it is evidence of a startup’s relevance and viability. Second, all applications will be reviewed by a set of external judges, and we want to make sure we avoid conflicts of interest.

Q: What will my space at the NAB Show look like?

A: You’ll have space in the Startup Loft with one of our premium pods. Details about the space are in the Startup Loft brochure.

Q: Who is going to be at the NAB Show that I would meet?

A: The NAB Show attracts attendees from all across the media and entertainment space. The NAB Show website has a complete demographic breakdown from previous years. In 2019, we had over 91,000 attendees from 160 countries representing all aspects of the business.

Q: Who will see my application?

A: Only the PILOT team and a subset of our panel of judges from the broadcast and technology industries will see the applications. We will not release or sell information about unsuccessful applicants. It is possible that one of our judges may be interested in following up with a company that is not ultimately selected as a winner to discuss investment or partnership opportunities. In that case, we would contact the applicant and facilitate the introduction if the applicant is interested.

Q: Do I have to give up any IP or other rights to accept the prize?

A: No. We are not requiring a license or any assignment of rights in your technology. We just want to identify and highlight startups that we believe have the potential to advance the broadcasting industry.

Q: How will judging happen?

A: The PILOT team will do a quick review to ensure the application meets the requirements, and then apportion out the applications to our panel of expert judges. Each judge will see a subset of applications and rate the submissions on our three judging criteria (readiness, relevance, and viability). No judge will see all applications, but each application will be seen by several different judges to ensure different perspectives. The 10 highest-scoring applications will then be reviewed by the PILOT team, and that team may contact some or all of the finalists before selecting up to 3 winners.

Q: What are the judging criteria?

A: Entries will be judged on three criteria:

  • Readiness – How close is the product or prototype to being ready for use by broadcasters? If submission requires further development before commercial deployment, is there a clear roadmap for when and how that development will occur? (1/3)
  • Relevance – How well does the proposal meet the challenge question and the needs of the broadcasting industry? (1/3)
  • Viability – How likely will this be implemented and used by broadcasters? (1/3)

Q: What happens if I am a finalist?

A: The top 10 highest-scoring applications are considered finalists. The PILOT team will review these applications. Although scores from the judges are highly relevant in the final decision, we will make an independent determination. We may want to arrange a call to discuss the submission before making our final decision. These calls will likely take place in the first two weeks of August. We will aim to make our final selection by the third week of August and, after confirming that each selectee is still interested, making a public announcement of the winners by September 1.

Q: What precautions are being taken to ensure the NAB Show is safe in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: Creating a healthy and safe environment for visitors to the NAB Show is a top priority. NAB is working with a top medical firm to guarantee we are following all health and safety protocols as outlined by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC). Full up-to-date information about the NAB Show’s COVID-19 protocols are available online.