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January 09, 2023 | Shannon Smith

Apply now for the 2023 Ballard Innovation Award

Want funding for your start-up? Also want video services, tax help, and more? Apply now to win $50,000 in capital and in-kind services.

Starting a business is a lot of work, and Knoxville-based accounting and consulting firm PYA wants to help local start-ups succeed with more than just funding.

The Ballard Innovation Award is the largest gift of cash and in-kind services available to entrepreneurs and startups in the 33* counties that make up East Tennessee.

Applications are now open and can be found here. The deadline to apply is February 24, 2023.

The Ballard Innovation Award competition is open to any early-stage company in the East Tennessee area that has established a proof of concept with accompanying revenue. Applicants must present a business plan to optimize existing business operations by reducing costs, increasing revenues, and/or gaining new efficiencies while demonstrating clear innovations to improve the business and empower the consumer.

New this year, the top finalists for the Ballard Award will have the opportunity to pitch their companies to a panel of qualified judges, who will then select the top three prize winners in March 2023.

The first-place winner of the PYA Ballard Innovation Award will receive a $50,000 package of capital and in-kind services, including:

  • $10,000 of monetary capital
  • $ 2,500 of in-kind tax advisory support
  • $ 7,500 of in-kind outsourced accounting
  • $10,000 of in-kind marketing support
  • $10,000 of in-kind strategy support
  • $10,000 of in-kind video development
  • Marketing and promotional awareness through earned media
  • Physical award for presentation and marketing purposes

The second-place company will receive:

  • $10,000 of in-kind strategy support
  • Mention in marketing/media collateral

The third-place company will receive:

  • $5,000 of in-kind strategy support
  • Mention in marketing/media collateral

Again, applications are now open and can be found, along with more information, on this website.

*Entrepreneurs and start-ups based in the following Tennessee counties are eligible to apply: Anderson, Bledsoe, Blount, Bradley, Campbell, Carter, Claiborne, Cooke, Cumberland, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Hamilton, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson, Johnson, Knox, Loudon, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Polk, Rhea, Roane, Scott, Sevier, Sullivan, Unicoi, Union, and Washington.

The PYA Ballard Innovation Award honors Tom Ballard, PYA’s Chief Alliance Officer, Teknovation’s Editor, and a well-respected member of the East Tennessee entrepreneurial community. An East Tennessee native, Ballard spent more than four decades building relationships for the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory throughout the region, state, and nation before joining PYA in 2012. During both careers, He led initiatives to build multi-organizational alliances focusing on statewide telecommunications networking, automotive research, and land use planning.