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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 calls on all creative thinkers, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs to submit their ideas for accelerating broadcast innovation.

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

Local news and information is crucial. Communities need to be informed, whether about the traffic, government actions, impending storms, crime, charity events, concerts or where to find the best pizza. However, in this digital age with endless sources of information, communities are seeking more resources that are relevant to their lives.

TV and radio broadcasters continue to deliver stories, news and information focused on local communities, but what does the future hold for these vital sources of information?

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.