Innovation Challenge Finalists

The broadcast industry is continuously evolving as it explores new ways to produce, deliver and distribute engaging content to serve its communities. The PILOT Innovation Challenge called on creative thinkers, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs to submit their ideas for accelerating broadcast innovation by answering our Challenge Question:

“What is an innovative way broadcasters and other local media could serve communities?”

Our panel of judges reviewed over 100 entries, and have narrowed down the field to these 12 finalists:

AR Story Template

Retha Hill, Cronkite Innovation Lab, Arizona State University

Provides a cost-effective way to create immersive AR stories quickly and without having to understand code.


David Burton

Beam is an AI mobile platform that enables users to build a personalized newscast using content categorically sourced from local television broadcasts.

Big Processing, Local Impact

Daniel Faltesek, Oregon State University

Provides local news organizations with robust computing and data science capacity.

El Timpano

Madeleine Bair

El Tímpano—Spanish for “eardrum”—informs, engages, and amplifies the voices of Latino immigrants using a community mic and SMS.


Samuel Crane

Software solution that streamlines drone flight registration for media groups and local law enforcement.

Immersive Disaster Effects Application (IDEA)

Ronald Baez, Yellow Wood Immersive

IDEA is an immersive and interactive 3D mapping tool for use by broadcasters to visualize the effects of weather emergencies.

Lawmaking Live

Terry Quinn, The Texas Tribune

Provides live analysis of policy development and makes the law-making process more accessible to consumers.

Open Spaces

Amara Aguilar, USC Annenberg

Allows users to engage on selected topics using social virtual reality.


Daniel Lewis

Provides a platform for the public to participate in virtual town halls and crowdsourced interviews.


Paul Glader

VettNews is a ratings agency of news organizations and helps combat the rise of misinformation.

Voices of TwoOneSix

Mike Shafarenko, Ideastream

An audio livestream that amplifies original content by underrepresented people in Cleveland.


Mario Dcunha, The New School

Zagrut is a news reader app that guides users against prevalent media bias.

First Place


In addition to the prize money, the winner will present at NAB Futures in Seattle, Wash., have access to industry experts and demonstrate their idea at the 2019 NAB Show in Las Vegas, Nev.

Second Place


Present at NAB Futures
Access to industry experts
Demonstrate at 2019 NAB Show

Third Place


Present at NAB Futures
Access to industry experts
Demonstrate at 2019 NAB Show

3 Innovator Awards


Present at NAB Futures
Access to industry experts
Demonstrate at 2019 NAB Show

Key Dates

Oct 19

Submissions Close

Nov 27

12 Semifinalists Announced

Jan 27

Winners Present at Futures

What do I need to do?

Submit your idea that answers our challenge question: “What is an innovative way broadcasters and other local media could serve communities?” by October 19, 2018. We’re looking for original ideas or concepts that answer the question in a compelling way, but are not yet commercially available.

Key judging criteria will include:

Originality (50 percent) – How original or unique is this idea? Has this already been attempted

Desirability (15 percent) – How desirable is this idea? Is this idea clearly needed or desired by someone specifically? If it came to fruition, would it be valuable to someone and is that someone clearly defined?

Plan (35 percent) – How clearly and logically are the steps for demonstrating the idea outlined?

Then what?

Submissions will be judged by a diverse panel of experts from the broadcast, venture capital, media and tech industries. Submissions will be narrowed down to 12 semifinalists by the end of November. From there, a smaller panel of judges will select the top six finalists. The winners will be chosen by participants at the NAB Futures conference in January 2019.

What if I win?

If your solution is selected as one of the top six ideas that best addresses the challenge topic, you are a winner! In addition to prize money to help you get your idea off the ground, the PILOT Innovation Challenge winners will receive relevant mentorship, access to key broadcast executives and unmatched exposure at industry events.

Thanks in part to a grant from Knight Foundation, the top six entries will be awarded cash prizes, with one prize each in the amounts of $30,000, $25,000 and $20,000 and three prizes in the amount of $15,000. In order to maximize the effect of these prizes on innovation and to track prototype or product development, winners will also be required to provide a summary of their progress and use of funds in the form of two activity reports to be delivered during the development windows following the challenge.

What if I have questions?

We’re here to help!  Contact us for more information.

Key Dates

August 15 Submissions Open
August 24 Virtual Office Hours – 2-3 p.m. ET
September 18 Virtual Office Hours – 2-3 p.m. ET
October 11 Virtual Office Hours – 2-3 p.m. ET
October 18 Office Hours @ NAB Show NY
October 19 Submissions Close
November 27 12 Semifinalists Announced
January 27, 2019 Top Six Present at NAB Futures in Seattle, Wash.
March 29, 2019 Winners’ First Progress Report
April 8-11, 2019 Winners’ Present in Futures Park at NAB Show in Las Vegas
April 30, 2019 Winners’ Second Progress Report

Knight Foundation

Thanks to Knight Foundation for their support of the Innovation Challenge.