Interactive Innovation Awards

Honoring the best and latest advancements in the digital industry.

Innovation Awards at SXSW 2016. Photo by Merrick Ales.

Innovation Awards at SXSW 2016. Photo by Merrick Ales.

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The 20th annual Interactive Innovation Awards celebrate and honor the most exciting tech developments in the connected world. Discover 2016’s best new work at the Finalist Showcase on Sunday, March 12. Then toast the winners at the Interactive Innovation Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, March 14 as we recognize all the incredible speakers, trends, innovations, and ideas that are brought to Austin each year.

The Interactive Innovation Awards are 13 categories and 7 special honors ranging from achievements in digital design to health technology to privacy & security, from the Internet of Everything, to the sharing economy, to developments in 3D printing, from visual and audio media, to augmented and virtual reality, and beyond. Innovators from across the digital industry enter their exciting new work in the competition, which is open to all projects, products, and developments launched or made in calendar year of 2016.

Our panel of judges then carefully evaluate every entry and select five finalists in each of the 13 categories, and the 65 total finalists are announced in January, 2017. In addition to earning 2 complimentary SXSW Interactive registrations, finalists also secure their demo space at the Interactive Innovation Awards Finalist Showcase in which to exhibit their work on Sunday, March 12.

Finalist Showcase

As part of the 20th annual Interactive Innovation Awards, the 2nd annual Interactive Innovation Awards Finalist Showcase brings 2016’s best, most forward-thinking projects to your fingertips! The 65 finalists across our 13 Award categories exhibit their work for SXSW registrants, who vote to determine the winner of the People’s Choice Award. Meanwhile, our panel of Interactive Innovation Awards judges vote to determine the winners of each of the 13 categories.

Come discover the 65 Finalists in the Interactive Innovation Awards, with hands-on demos of these trendsetting new contributions to the connected world. Then, vote for your favorite pick and join us as we reveal the winners in each category at the Interactive Innovation Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, March 14, 2017.

Hotel Information for Finalists
If you are selected as an Innovation Awards finalist, you have access to a limited number of rooms being protected for finalists through SXSW Housing & Travel. Rooms are limited to one per registrant and will sell out fast, so be sure to make your hotel reservation as soon as you are registered. Requests can be completed in your Shopping Cart or SXsocial account. In the meantime, check out SXSW Housing & Travel for more information about our hotels, pricing, reservation policies, and travel information.

2017 Interactive Innovation Awards Categories


The Interactive Innovation Awards celebrate the latest and greatest projects, products, and developments in the connected world. Below are the 13 award categories and seven special honors that we will recognize at the 2017 Interactive Innovation Awards.

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 2016’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 2016’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.

Scifi No Longer
Awarded for the coolest scientific achievement or discovery that before 2016 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.

Awarded for breakthroughs in augmented and 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 Award
The public’s favorite finalist from the 2017 Interactive Innovation Awards.

Breakout Trend of the Event
Awarded to the trend that gained the most traction during SXSW Interactive 2017.

Speaker of the Event
The speaker from SXSW Interactive 2017 whose presentation makes the biggest impact on the digital community.

Interactive Hall of Fame
Honoring those exceptional trailblazers whose work has helped shape the connected world and who continue to guide the direction of the digital industry.

David Carr Prize
Awarded for the best new writer’s essay, in honor of the late David Carr; our friend and great contributor to SXSW and the journalistic community, whose interest in the convergence of new media, technology, and culture inspires the essay topic for each year’s competition.

Meme of the Year
Awarded to the most ubiquitous meme that went viral in 2016 and we just can’t get it out of our heads or off of our screens.

Browse 2016 recipients here »


Attend SXSW 2017

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2016 Finalist Showcase Highlights

Check out the Finalist Showcase Highlights from the Interactive Innovation Awards during SXSW Interactive 2016.

Eligibility, Terms and Conditions


2017 applications are now closed.


  • A project or product submitted for the Interactive Innovation Awards must have launched or have been completely redesigned in calendar year 2016 (between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016.) For the purposes of the Interactive Innovation Awards eligibility, “launched” may mean any of the following things:
  1. When a discovery is made / when a scientific paper is published / when a patent is approved
  2. When a physical device is made tangible, (IE a prototype)
  3. When the applicable regulatory body (FDA, FCC, etc.) approves a product / procedure for use
  4. When the product is made commercially available
  5. When a project or product is publicly released
  • 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 submitting it. Entries may not be changed or updated once the entry has begun the evaluation process 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.


Each category is narrowed down to five finalists, based on the content of the entry’s application form, by a panel judges comprised of industry peers and experts. Entries will be graded by the following four criteria:

  • Creativity / Innovation
  • Form
  • Function
  • Overall Experience


  • Five finalists in each of the 13 categories will be announced in January 2017.
  • Each finalist entry receives 2 complimentary SXSW Interactive registrations (badges) to attend the 2017 SXSW Interactive Conference & Festival.
  • Finalists are required to supply a high-resolution photo or screenshot of their project, and a 30-second video introducing their entry for the Interactive Innovation Awards ceremony on Tuesday, March 14, 2017. These materials must be supplied to SXSW no later than Friday, February 10, 2017.
  • Finalists in each of the 13 categories will be given demo space at the SXSW Interactive Festival during the 2nd annual Interactive Innovation Awards Finalist Showcase on Sunday, March 12, 2017. The showcase is an opportunity for awards finalists to exhibit their work to the community of SXSW registrants and is open to all badgeholders, who determine the winner of the People’s Choice Award. A finalist’s participation in this Showcase is required to be eligible to win the award in their respective category, as the final round of official judging to determine winners will take place at this March 12, 2017 event.
  • Winners in each of the 13 categories and the seven special honor awards will be announced at the 20th 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.

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

Entry Deadlines and Fees:

Early entry: Tuesday, June 28, 2016 – Friday, Sept. 23, 2016 — early entry fee: $75
Regular entry: Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016 – Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016 — regular entry fee: $150
Late entry: Monday, Nov. 14, 2016 – Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016 — late entry fee: $300

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 Interactive Innovation Awards you will not be eligible for a refund.

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

2016 Interactive Innovation Award Winners


2016 Interactive Innovation Award Winners

Health, Med & Biotech

DESKGEN by Destop Genetics | London

Innovation In Connecting People

Don’s Voice by Not Impossible | Los Angeles, CA

Innovative 3-DIY

Wevolver by Wevolver | London, ENG

Music & Audio Innovation

Here Active Listening System by Doppler Labs | San Francisco, CA

New Economy

ShareTheMeal by UN World Food Programme | Rome, ITA

Privacy & Security

Peeple by Building 10 Technology, Inc. | Austin, TX

Responsive Design

Breakthrough by Neo-Pangea | West Reading, PA

Scifi No Longer

Lily Camera by Lily | San Francisco, CA

Smart Cities

KASITA by Kasita LLC | Austin, TX

Student Innovation

Plant-like Robot by Ji Won Jun | Mountain View, CA

Visual Media Experience

The Fallen of World War II by Neil Halloran | Philadelphia, PA


Mill Stitch by The Mill | Various Locations

Wearable Tech

Quell® Wearable Pain Relief Technology™ by NeuroMetrix, Inc. | Waltham, MA

Best of Show

Here Active Listening System by Doppler Labs | San Francisco, CA

People’s Choice Award by | Heidelberg Baden-Württemberg

Breakout Trend of the Event

Civic Engagement

Speaker of the Event

Brené Brown, Author of Rising Strong, Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection, Founder and CEO, COURAGEworks

Interactive Hall of Fame

Baratunde Thurston

David Carr Prize for Emerging Writers

Jaime Boust

Meme of the Year

Dance Like Drake

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