The PILOT Innovation Challenge is a call to all entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and creative thinkers for ideas that answer the question:

How might local television and radio broadcasters engage their communities with next generation content on any device, whether big, small or moving?

We are challenging people to think about new ways to address that question, and we’re providing opportunities to test and validate some of the best ideas. We’ve developed this list of frequently asked questions to help applicants better understand the challenge and prepare an effective submission.


What kind of ideas are you looking for?

Early-stage ideas. The keyword here is “idea.” We don’t expect to see fully fleshed-out business plans or even ideas that have undergone extensive testing or development (although those ideas are welcomed). We’re looking for original ideas or concepts that answer the challenge in a compelling way, but are not yet commercially available.

We want to identify good ideas and provide winners with mentorship and some prize money to help flesh the idea out and potentially start building a prototype. We will not consider standalone ideas for television and radio shows, or other talent driven content, that does not include a novel technology or business idea.

What is Next Generation Content?

This has been the top question, so we dedicated a full post to it.

Can an individual enter? What stage startup company is eligible?

Of course an individual can enter. The stage, size or age of a company is irrelevant in this context. Because we’re looking for early stage ideas, we do not expect an operational business to have formed around the idea. If your idea is already generating revenue or has already developed into a business, it’s too far advanced for this.

Is the prize money an equity investment?

No. This is all about the early-stage ideas. We expect the winners to take the prize and try to flesh out their ideas.

What is the judging criteria and what priority is given to each?

  • Value to Audience: How valuable is the concept to the audience? (25%)
  • Value to Broadcasters: How valuable is the concept to broadcasters? (15%)
  • Viability: How likely is it that this concept could support itself and turn a profit? (10%)
  • Feasibility: How well thought out is the concept implementation? (20%)
  • Originality and Creativity: How unique, original and creative is this concept? (30%)

How will judging happen?

After the submission period closes at 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Sept 23, 2016, a diverse panel of experts from the broadcast, venture capital, academic and tech industries will begin evaluating the entries. Submissions will be narrowed down to 10 semifinalists by Oct. 3. Then a smaller group of judges will deliberate on those 10 and determine the top three finalists. Those three finalists will  present at NAB Futures on Oct. 31 where attendees will determine first, second and third place.

What happens if I am one of the three finalists?

Quite a bit, and it will happen quickly.

  • By Oct. 14, we’ll notify the three finalists and officially invite them to present at NAB Futures in Pebble Beach on Oct. 31. We’ll provide one night at the Inn at Spanish Bay and ask the finalists (all three are guaranteed at least $10,000) to pay for travel to and from the event.
  • On Oct. 31, the winners will present their ideas and answer questions from NAB Futures participants who will determine first, second and third place.
  • On Nov. 9, we will publicly announce the winners and have a Q&A session with them during a panel at NAB Show NY.
  • The winners will then have until April 2017 to move their idea forward and start developing a prototype to show off at NAB Show in Las Vegas.

I don’t have an idea, but what do I do if I know someone who might?

You should make sure they enter. Send them the link to the challenge and tell them to enter or you can nominate them. Keep in mind that nominating someone doesn’t enter them in the challenge. They would still have to submit an idea.

How do I enter?

Follow this link to get started with your entry.

What if I have other questions?