NAB’s annual PILOT Innovation Challenge
In our world of abundant social media and instant notifications, we are constantly connected to the rest of the world. We can access the latest trending stories in Africa, elections in Europe, and the policy reforms in Asia within seconds on our phones. Staying up-to-date with global news and events is crucial for us to be informed, global citizens; but it is also easy to lose sight of news from our own local communities.
While local policy debates on infrastructure, local business updates, or an opportunity to volunteer at the soup kitchen might not be as grand as some of the other happenings around the world, local broadcasters and media bring us closer to our home and connect us with relevant news and information that grounds us -- giving us a moment to take a step back from the rest world and focus on the important things right in front of us.
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) understands the importance of local media, and how, now more than ever, there is great need to connect individuals with their communities with relevant news and events through innovative technology and practices. That is why for the past three years, the NAB PILOT team, has partnered with Quesnay to run The PILOT Innovation Challenge to identify original ideas and innovative solutions to help broadcasters and media organizations better serve their local communities and audiences.
In the past two competitions, in 2016 and 2017, we received over 500 registrants and participation from 110 broadcasting leaders, executives, and investors as judges. In the last 2 years a total of nine winners were awarded over $150,000 in cash prizes and received ongoing support through a unique mentorship program to help them validate their ideas. Some of the past winners include UNC-TV which will enable North Carolina’s public safety community to provide timelier responses to emergencies utilizing datacasting technology over broadcast television and nēdl which will allow radio listeners to use speech recognition to more conveniently access local news, sports, talk, and music.
For the finalists of the PILOT Innovation Challenge, the cash prize is only the tip of the iceberg. Many cite the recognition, validation, and support from NAB as more rewarding than the cash prize. For many, the pitch event at the NAB Show, the largest trade event for the broadcasting industry where over 100,000 attendees participate, was the highlight of the competition. Following this success, Quesnay is helping NAB bring their third annual competition to the next level.
In 2018 NAB asks “What is an innovative way broadcasters and other local media could serve communities?” However, the stakes have never been higher. Thanks in part to a grant from the Knight Foundation, the top six entries will be awarded $75,000 in cash prizes. In addition, they will present at the exclusive invite-only NAB Futures event, and demonstrate their solutions at the 2019 NAB show in Las Vegas. The top six will all receive ongoing guidance, mentorship and access to broadcasting and media experts and executives.