Knoxville-based PYA recently launched a $50,000 Ballard Innovation Award in honor of Tom Ballard, PYA’s Chief Alliance Officer and long-term ally of the East Tennessee entrepreneurial community. In a video announcing the award, PYA Director of Business Alliances referred to Ballard as “the king of entrepreneurship.” 

According to PYA’s announcement, the Ballard Innovation Award competition is open to any early-stage company in the East Tennessee region that has established a “proof of concept” with accompanying revenue. Applications will open in January 2021 and an award presentation for the top three finalists will take place in March. Here are applicant qualifications for the award:

  • Is located in the geographic East Tennessee area (33 counties as defined by the state of TN) – metro areas include Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Tri-Cities;
  • Has established a “proof of concept” with accompanying revenue (as outlined);
  • Has achieved between $5,000 and $50,000 in monthly recurring revenues (annualized revenues of between $60,000 – $600,000 and must be “non-grant” revenue from independent customers);
  • Has a business plan to optimize existing business operations by reducing costs, increasing revenues, and/or gaining new efficiencies;
  • Can demonstrate clear innovations that will improve the business;
  • Has a focus on empowering the consumer to become more informed and engaged.

“To say that the ‘PYA Ballard Innovation Award’ was totally unexpected when I was told about it in early November would be a gross understatement,” wrote Ballard in about the award. He continued, writing, “More businesses need to get off the sidelines and in the game, helping innovative companies succeed in their communities, and I am so honored to be associated with PYA which is doing its part to help grow the technology, innovation and entrepreneurial assets of this region,.”

In 2019, TAEBC awarded Ballard the first-ever Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award. The Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award honors exemplary leadership and success in championing, connecting, and strengthening Tennessee’s advanced energy economy. 

“Without Tom Ballard, the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council would have never grown to the level of success it experiences today,” said Cortney Piper, Executive Director of TAEBC. “It’s impossible to measure Tom’s impact on Tennessee’s advanced energy economy with words alone, and for that reason he is most deserving of having an award being named in his honor.”

Learn more about PYA’s Ballard Innovation Award competition here and watch the announcement video below.