Last night saw the winners of IBC’s Innovation Awards and Social Impact Awards revealed in two ceremonies at the RAI.

Celebrating the transformative tech that is driving the industry forward, the Innovation Awards recognised the BBC and its partners, who won the Content Creation award for creating the world’s largest pop-up 5G standalone non-public network for live broadcast contributions using shared spectrum. It was deployed for the Coronation of HM King Charles III in May.

Jo Fahy accepts the award from Nadira Tudor

Jo Fahy accepts the award from Nadira Tudor

Accepting the award, Andy Reed, Engineering Manager, BBC News, called the technology “a silver bullet for big events”, while Ian Wagdin, Senior Technology Transfer Manager, BBC R&D, pointed out: “Not only did we work as the BBC, but we shared it across the industry. It was really important that we were able to open it up as an open R&D approach.”

The Content Distribution accolade went to Sky Group, which was recognised for its cloud-native software playout platform for the origination of linear content TV channels across European territories.

Speaking about Sky Group’s innovation, Gabriele Ubertini, Director of Group Origination and Distribution, Sky Group, said: “Co-operation has been key, for all our partners” adding it’s been “great to scale out to simplify operations and to be quick to market. It’s been crucial for us.”

Meanwhile, KAN took home the Content Everywhere award, for how it changed the way Israel watched the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and Eurovision 2023 with Sport Buff real-time interactive engagement.

“What we have provided is a total solution, and it’s a testament to the broadcaster and their teams being able to share our vision, and their teams being able to take it to the next level. There are so many things we’ve learned from how they use it, and now it’s about how we take this further, across all of their content and all of their audiences,” said Benn Achilleas, CEO, Sport Buff.

The IBC International Honour for Excellence (IHFE) – announced in August – was also formally presented to Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group on the 100th anniversary of its founding.

Also at that event, the 2023 Special Award for Innovation was presented to the German DVB-I Pilot, an initiative bringing together multiple stakeholders from the German media industry, including broadcasters, device manufacturers, software providers and research institutions.

The Best Technical Paper Award, meanwhile, went to Mark Waddell, Ian Wagdin, David Butler (BBC), Sam Yoffe, Kenny Barlee, Douglas Allan, Malcolm Brew, and Robert Stewart (University of Strathclyde and Neutral Wireless), who were also recognised for their work on the 5G standalone non-public network used at the Coronation of King Charles III.

At the Social Impact Awards, which focuses on celebrating diversity, sustainability and the positive use of technology, RTVE won the Social Impact award, for an initiative which used artificial intelligence to provide local election news coverage of nearly 5000 small Spanish municipalities.

Accepting the award, RTVE Head of innovation David Corral Hernandez said: “Gracias. It’s a great award for all the team. Our challenge was to serve the public with good news and provide the best public service that we can. It’s important because we offer democracy for everybody in Spain.”

In the Diversity and Inclusion category, Swiss news outfit SWI won for introducing a data-driven process to evaluate the use of inclusive language in its multilingual digital newsroom.

Head of Distribution and Formats Jo Fahy said. “I’m over the moon. We have seen a cultural shift towards more inclusive and gender-neutral languages, and as a website in 10 languages published around the globe we can have a huge impact on society worldwide.”

In addition, Iron Mountain Data Centers won the Environment and Sustainability award, for its initiative to use 100% locally sourced clean electricity 100% of the time to make its operations carbon free.

Iron Mountain Data Centres VP and General Manager, Europe, Eric Boonstra said: “We need a better world for the future and we are the only ones in the data centre business who do this, tracking all our usage and matching it with local green power generation. We are really focused on sustainability.”

The inaugural Changemaker Award was also presented to the Eurovision Song Contest, which won for its contribution to society and culture. European Broadcasting Union (EBU) Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest Martin Österdahl accepted the award for the live broadcast event, organised by the BBC and the EBU on behalf of Ukraine, which was watched by 162 million viewers across five continents over three live shows in May this year.

Österdahl said: “Something has happened to Eurovision in the past three years. Fans missed it in the pandemic when it didn’t happen, so to bring it back you felt that the world thought it was great to have a big international event return. It really was an emotional moment.”

Finally, IBC presented a Special Award to Women in Streaming Media for its mentorship programme, which focuses on career development and personal growth goals that support business objectives. Founder Alicia Pritchett said: “The programme has had an incredible impact on increasing the number of women present at trade shows like this. Look around - women don’t have the visibility that they need, but this programme sets women up to know that they are special.”

“I want to congratulate this year’s winners and everyone else involved with the 2023 Innovation and Social Impact Awards,” said Michael Crimp, Chief Executive Officer, IBC. “The winning entries epitomise today’s IBC, which looks to inspire, foster and recognise the transformative innovation and critical change we are witnessing across the media and entertainment industry. They represent the pioneering and collaborative spirit at the heart of IBC, bringing imagination and vision to the work they are doing and sharing it with the wider M&E community.”