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Industry collaboration is the root of all innovation

Mark Smith, innovation lead and advisor to IBC, gives TVBEurope an overview of this year's IBC Accelerator Media Innovation programme. All projects will be free for visitors to attend

Mark Smith

IBC has always been run “by the industry, for the industry”. Our number one priority is to support and bring together the media and entertainment technology ecosystem. In 2019 we created the first iteration of the IBC Accelerator Media Innovation programme to help facilitate closer industry collaboration and drive innovations across the entire media entertainment landscape. Broadcasters and studios were already facing a myriad of challenges (and opportunities) including digital transformation, the disparity between online platforms and broadcasters, device fragmentation and the impact of 5G on the content chain, to name just a few. The pandemic only amplified these challenges and quickened the pace of digitisation. Content providers were under pressure to innovate faster than ever before, requiring multi-company collaboration at a time when nobody could travel or meet face-to-face. Despite these geographical barriers, we successfully introduced the accelerator programme for project teams to work together remotely to develop innovative solutions to common business and technology challenges ie their common pain points via “hands-on” experimentation. The programme expanded in 2020 and 2021 significantly and became an important forum for knowledge sharing and hands-on experimentation with the latest technologies.

Each of the projects is ‘championed’ and led by broadcasters and studios supported by teams of expert vendors and solutions providers. In 2020, 62 companies took part in the programme, with our ‘accelerator champions’ including the likes of the Al Jazeera Media Networks, Associated Press, the BBC, ITV, Olympic Broadcast Services, Sky and Warner Media Group. The vendors are often a mix of major technology brands, medium-sized players and exciting young start-ups from different parts of the media entertainment ecosystem because we believe collaboration, in tandem with diversity of scale and ideas, is the foundation of true innovation. Over four to five months, the participants explore what is possible through extensive discussion, design, testing, and demoing highly innovative solutions and architectures. Last year’s projects showcased the transition to IP for distribution, the evolution of 5G for remote production and VR, the application of AI in several media processes, including news production and music, visual effects archiving, and real-time animation. Several of the broadcasters and studios who took part in last year’s accelerator programme returned to build on and continue working on extended phases of what began last year. This speaks volumes about the level of business value the programme provides.

For this year’s accelerator programme, we have 85 companies participating. We’re delighted that several content providers, including AP, Al Jazeera, the BBC and RTÉ have returned to be involved in championing Accelerators for a third year, with others such as BT Sport, the EBU, ITV, Reuters, Sky, TV2, Yle, Unity Technologies and Unreal/Epic and ViacomCBS taking part in the programme for a second time. This year’s projects focus on key trends such as the role of 5G in three areas: ‘Innovation in Live Production Workflows’; ‘Remote Production in Live Sports’; and how it is enabling LB XR (Location-Based eXtended Realities). Al Jazeera is leading a project on how AI can be used to detect, measure, and flag bias and tonality in the representation and portrayal of diverse genders, cultures, and ethnicities in reportage and news coverage. Sky is leading ‘RT-3D Interactive Content Creation project for Multi-Platform Distribution’. There are also projects focused on providing low-cost smart animated remote production and immersive audio and sound imagery. Also, a team of world-class broadcasters are leading a project on sustainability in live production, examining how to improve production efficiencies and reduce energy consumption.

These projects will showcase their proof-of-concepts with discussions around each of their challenges and solutions at IBC 2021 which attendees will be able to watch in-person and online. 

Alongside boundary-breaking live demonstrations, we will also be introducing the Accelerator Programme’s Project of the Year award. This special, inaugural award will be presented to the project team, demonstrating the most impressive solution at IBC 2021. There is a lot to be excited about, and we cannot wait for the Accelerator Zone to be revealed in Amsterdam and show how industry collaboration has powered some impressive innovations throughout this last incredibly challenging year or two.

Accelerator projects will be presented live at the IBC Accelerator Zone at IBC Show, The RAI, Amsterdam, on 3-6 December and showcased virtually on IBC Digital. They will be free for all visitors to attend. The IBC Accelerator Media Innovation programme is supported by Nvidia.

Register for IBC2021 at: