PYA Announces the Ballard Innovation Award Competition, Seeking Emerging Entrepreneurs to Compete for $50,000 Investment

KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Nov. 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — PYA, one of the largest certified public accounting and professional services firms in East Tennessee, is pleased to announce the Annual Ballard Innovation Award Competition in honor of Chief Alliance Officer Tom Ballard.  

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 be able to 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.

The award is named in honor of Tom Ballard, PYA’s Chief Alliance Officer and well-respected member of the East Tennessee entrepreneurial community. 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. He has led initiatives to build multi-organizational alliances focusing on statewide telecommunications networking, automotive research, and land use planning. Ballard is also Editor and Publisher of, a daily electronic newsletter focused on technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

“We are so proud to offer this annual investment in emerging companies with great promise and innovation focus,” said PYA Chief Executive Officer Marty Brown. “This award was inspired by Tom’s dedication and efforts to support area entrepreneurs. It was only fitting that we name the annual award after him and honor his legacy of encouraging business leaders to aspire, grow, and achieve.”

Ballard was humbled at the news that this award was named in his honor. “This award validates a lifetime of work trying to make a small contribution to the lives of individuals and the community in which I live,” he said. “Those who start technology-based companies struggle in any number of ways. Whoever wins this award will no doubt make a significant contribution and solidify the East Tennessee region as a true hotspot for innovation.”

The first-place winner will receive $50,000 in capital and in-kind services from PYA. Second and third-place winners will receive $10,000 and $5,000 in-kind strategy support, respectively.

Applications will be accepted starting in January 2021 and an award presentation for the top three finalists will be scheduled mid-March. Award winners will be decided by a distinguished panel of area business leaders and entrepreneurial mentors, including Charlie Brock (Chattanooga Renaissance Fund), Brandon Bruce (Startup Knox), Amy Henry (TVA), Mike Odom (Knoxville Chamber), and Mary Celeste Beall (Blackberry Farm).

More information can be found at

About PYA

Serving clients in all 50 states from offices in Knoxville, Nashville, Atlanta, Kansas City, and Tampa, PYA is ranked by INSIDE Public Accounting as one of the nation’s “Top 100” Largest Accounting Firms. Accounting Today highlighted PYA as “One of the Most Successful Firms in the Country,” and PYA is consistently ranked by Modern Healthcare as one of the nation’s Top 20 healthcare consulting firms.

Learn more at

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