Interactive Innovation Awards Categories

See the List of 2016 Finalists

The Interactive Innovation Awards celebrate the latest and greatest projects, products, and developments in the connected world. Below are the 13 award categories and five special honor awards that we will recognize at the 2016 Interactive Innovation Awards.

2016 Innovation Award Logo

2016 Categories

Health, Med & BioTech: Awarded for the new technology that best improves the quality, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness of prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care in health and medicine.

Innovation in Connecting People: Awarded for the best new way to connect and communicate with others.

Innovative 3-DIY: Awarded for making 3D printing technology more accessible or affordable, or to the Maker using such technology in new and exciting ways.

Music & Audio Innovation: Awarded for 2015’s best device or service that changes and improves the way we listen to and enjoy music.

New Economy: Awarded to those redefining the exchange of goods and services, from the sharing economy, to virtual currency, to micro-finance, to mobile-device-payment systems, and beyond.

Privacy & Security: Awarded for 2015’s most progressive accomplishment in the way we go about securing our data and ensuring our privacy.

Responsive Design: Awarded for excellent digital design, creating the best-integrated interaction in terms of content, aesthetics, and functionality.

Sci-Fi No Longer: Awarded for the coolest scientific achievement or discovery that before 2015 was only possible in science fiction.

Smart Cities: Awarded for innovations in eco-friendly or sustainable energy, transportation, and IoT technology, making life in the connected world a smarter, cleaner, greener, and more efficient Internet of Everything.

Student Innovation: Awarded to the student with an exceptional interactive technology project or startup; both of which are the future.

Visual Media Experience: Awarded for content creation and delivery that moves beyond passive viewership by providing a more immersive and engaging entertainment experience.

VR & AR: Awarded for breakthroughs in augmented reality & virtual reality technology including the application of new hardware or software which truly make the Virtual a reality.

Wearable Tech: Awarded for the new hardware that revolutionizes the convenience, comfort, functionality, efficiency, and fashion of having a device literally “on you.”

Special Honors

Best of Show: The finalist from the competition who overall best exemplifies the values of innovation, inspiration, and creativity.

People’s Choice: The public’s favorite finalist from the 2016 Interactive Innovation Awards.

Breakout Trend of The Event: Awarded to the trend that gained the most traction during SXSW Interactive 2016.

Speaker of the Event: The speaker from SXSW Interactive 2016 whose presentation makes the biggest impact on the digital community.

Meme of the Year: Awarded to the most ubiquitous meme that went viral in 2015 and we just can’t get it out of our heads or off of our screens.

Eligibility, Terms and Conditions

  • A project or product must have launched or have been completely redesigned no earlier than January 1, 2015.
  • A project or product must not be scheduled to launch after December 31, 2015.
  • Applicants may enter multiple projects or products. There will be an additional application fee for each additional project or product entered.
  • A project or product may be entered in multiple categories. There will be an additional application fee for each additional category in which the project or product is entered.
  • Please be sure your application is complete before clicking the “Submit application” button. Entries may only be changed or updated if the entry has not yet been graded by our panel of judges. If you believe you have made an error on your application or have submitted the entry prematurely, please contact immediately.

Judging and Evaluation

  • Each category is narrowed down to five finalists by a panel of industry peers and experts. A second round of judging determines the winner in each category. Entries will be graded by the four criteria listed here.
  • Entries that are or include physical devices may need to be sent to SXSW for in-person evaluation by our panel of judges at Interactive Innovation Awards judges’ Gadget Fair on Saturday, January 23, 2016. This is a closed-door event exclusively for judges and entrants to demo their entries as part of the evaluation process. While participation in the Judges’ Gadget Fair is not mandatory, it is highly recommended to give the best, most thorough evaluation of your physical device entry.
  • Devices sent to SXSW for the judges’ Gadget Fair must be received by SXSW no later than Friday, January 15, 2016.
  • Devices not received by January 15, 2016 may be brought in-person by entrants to the judges’ Gadget Fair on Saturday, January 23, 2016.
  • Devices which require syncing with a tablet, phone, or other device must be accompanied by the device with which they are synced.
  • Devices sent to SXSW for the judges’ Gadget Fair will be returned to entrants following the judging and evaluation process. To facilitate their return, please provide a shipping address to which they may be returned.


  • Five finalists in each of the 13 categories will be announced at the end of January 2016.
  • Each finalist entry receives 2 complimentary SXSW Interactive registrations (badges) to attend the 2016 SXSW Interactive Conference & Festival.
  • Finalists are required to supply a high-resolution photo or screenshot of their project, and a 25-second video introducing their entry for the Interactive Innovation Awards ceremony on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. These materials must be supplied to SXSW no later than Friday, February 12, 2016.
  • Finalists in each of the 13 categories will be given demo space at the SXSW Interactive Festival during the first Interactive Innovation Awards Finalist Showcase. The showcase is an opportunity for awards finalists to exhibit their work to the entire community of SXSW Interactive registrants and is open to all Interactive, Gold, and Platinum badgeholders. Finalist participation in this Showcase is required to be eligible to win the award in their respective category.
  • Winners in each of the 13 categories and the five special honor awards will be announced at the 19th annual Interactive Innovation Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, March 15, 2016.

PLEASE NOTE: SXSW reserves the right to place applicants’ entries in the most relevant category at SXSW's sole discretion. This includes changing an applicant entry’s category based on response to the event and/or the applicant choosing a non-relevant category.


Questions? Check out the Interactive Innovation Awards FAQ.


All preliminary application information that is submitted is confidential and will be only viewed by SXSW staff and the selected judging panelists.

Entry Fee

A non-refundable entry fee is required from all applicants who would like to be considered for the above awards categories. All SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards entrants will be given the chance to register to attend SXSW Interactive at the lowest early bird rate. SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards finalists receive 2 complimentary Interactive registrations.


No refund will be given to any application that has been submitted. If you have any concerns regarding our fees and/or the application process please email prior to entering an application. If you wish to register before being notified by SXSW on your status as an entrant to the SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards you will not be eligible for a refund.

More Questions

Have more questions? Email with any questions regarding the SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards.

Enter your project

To access the online application for the SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards, click here.

REPRESENTATIONS Each Applicant represents and warrants that:* Applicant has the authority to apply for the Award and the person submitting the application on Applicant's behalf is authorized to do so;* Applicant's application for and receipt of the Award will not violate any agreement or understanding by which Applicant is bound, including any confidentiality, employment, consulting, intellectual property assignment, or license agreement; and* Submission and publication of Applicant's game will not infringe or misappropriate any intellectual property or other proprietary rights of any person or entity.

RELEASE By applying for the Award, each Applicant assumes responsibility for and will indemnify, release, and hold harmless SXSW, its parents, subsidiaries, and affiliates, and each of their respective officers, directors, agents, and employees (the “SXSW Parties”) from any and all responsibility or liability arising out of or in connection with: (a) any breach of Applicant's representations or warranties contained herein; and (b) Applicant's violation of the Rules and any guidelines, policies and terms prescribed by SXSW. Except where prohibited, Applicant consents to SXSW’s use of Applicant's name, likeness, and similar characteristics for the purpose of advertising, selling, or otherwise promoting the Award, the Expo, and the Festival. Applicant agrees that there will be no financial or other monetary compensation for such use.

LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY The SXSW Parties are not responsible for: (1) any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by Applicants, printing errors or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Award; (2) technical failures of any kind, including, but not limited to malfunctions, interruptions, or disconnections in phone lines or network hardware or software; (3) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the application process or the Award; (4) technical or human error which may occur in the administration of the Award or the processing of applications; or (5) any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from Applicant's participation in the Award or receipt or use or misuse of any award. If for any reason an Applicant's application is confirmed to have been erroneously deleted, lost, or otherwise destroyed or corrupted, Applicant's sole remedy is another application in the Award.

CONFIDENTIALITY All preliminary application information and data that is submitted is confidential and will be only viewed by SXSW staff and selected judging panelists.

TERMINATION SXSW reserves the right to cancel, modify or suspend the Award for any causes beyond the control of SXSW that affect the effective administration, proper conduct, or integrity of the Award. If this event should occur, SXSW will post notice on the SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards website.

MISCELLANEOUS If any part of these rules is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, illegal, or otherwise unenforceable, such part will be deemed modified or eliminated to the extent necessary, in the court's opinion, to make it enforceable while preserving the original intent of SXSW, and the remaining parts of these rules will remain in full force and effect. The Award will be governed by, and the Rules will be interpreted by, and enforced in accordance with, the laws of the State of Texas and applicable United States federal law, without regard to any conflicts of laws principles. The Award is void where prohibited by law. Any dispute arising out of or relating to these Rules, the Award, the Expo, or any prize must be brought exclusively in the state or federal courts located in Austin, Texas.