August 14, 2012

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Article

Crowd to Choose Digital Media Winners

Heather Stewart

August 14, 2012

A new digital media contest will rely on the wisdom of the crowd to pick the winners. Utah-based digital media companies can submit new technologies, and the winners will be those that generate the most online votes.

The contest is a joint creation of the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) and Utah Valley University through the Utah Clusters Acceleration Partnership (UCAP) program. USHE contributed $25,000 in prize money for the contest, and five Utah companies will each win $5,000 in cash.

“The contest is intended to help smaller digital media companies get their technologies off the ground and into the marketplace,” said Ryan Angus, associate director of economic development for UVU. “Hopefully, they will then become bigger companies and contribute to the economy with new jobs and tax revenue.”

The digital media contest is open to companies that are based in Utah and generate less than $1 million in annual revenue. The technology must not yet be commercially available. The contest will accept a wide range of digital media technologies, including mobile and web apps, video games, film, 3D animation, special effects and digital audio.

Contest organizers are currently accepting applications at www.saltvalleytally.com. The application deadline is August 30. Online voting will begin on September 10 and run through October 9; winners will be announced on October 10. The general public is invited to participate in the voting, said Angus, and companies are encouraged to leverage their social media networks to garner votes.

Digital media seemed like a natural fit for a crowdsourcing contest, said Angus. “Rather than a traditional contest with a very small group of veteran judges, we thought why not actually empower the crowd? Why not see if the crowd has as much or more wisdom than the judges?”

He noted that winning a crowdsourced contest may be a strong indication that a technology will be successful in the marketplace. “Does a strong social media network make it more likely that you’ll be successful? That’s a question we’d like to see tested,” he said.

Utah Valley University convened a UCAP project in digital media last year. A partnership between USHE, the Governor’s Office of Education and the Department of Workforce Services, UCAP is intended to leverage the unique strengths at Utah’s colleges and universities to develop and grow targeted industries.

According to Angus, UVU’s digital media UCAP brought together industry, academic and government leaders to develop a strategy for accelerating the growth of the state’s digital media industry. The digital media contest is part of the implementation of that strategy.

A report released last year by UCAP noted that Utah’s digital media industry employs more than 1,500 people, and about 40 percent of those jobs are in the video gaming sector. Altogether, the state’s digital media companies report annual revenues of more than $415 million.

For more information about the digital media contest, visit www.saltvalleytally.com.

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