Interactive Innovation Awards

Honoring the best and latest advancements in the digital industry. Explore 2017’s best, most forward-thinking projects at the Finalist Showcase on Sunday, March 11 followed by the Interactive Innovation Awards ceremony on Tuesday, March 13.

Interactive Innovation Awards

2017 SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards - Photo by Katrina Barber

About Interactive Innovation Awards


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The 21st annual Innovation Awards presented by KPMG recognize the most exciting tech developments in the connected world. Discover 2017’s best new work at the Innovation Awards Finalist Showcase, then toast the winners at the Innovation Awards Ceremony as we celebrate all the incredible speakers, trends, innovations and ideas at SXSW each year.

New for 2018, a new category, AI & Machine Learning, has been added to recognize the emerging developments in the field of “thinking” digital systems. We look forward to what 2017 has in store for artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks, and deep learning. Explore the 13 categories and 6 special honors below.

2018 Interactive Innovation Awards applications are now closed. Stay tuned for the announcement of this year’s total 65 finalists. Our panel of judges will carefully evaluate every entry and select five finalists in each of the 13 categories.

Each finalist entry receives two (2) complimentary SXSW Interactive registrations and complimentary demo space at the Innovation Awards Finalist Showcase to exhibit their work on Sunday, March 11. Winners receive their awards at the Interactive Innovation Awards ceremony on Tuesday, March 13.

Finalist Showcase


As part of the 21st annual Innovation Awards, the 3rd annual Innovation Awards Finalist Showcase brings 2017’s best, most forward-thinking projects to your fingertips on Sunday, March 11, 2018.

The 65 finalists across our 13 categories exhibit their work for SXSW registrants, who vote to determine the winner of the People’s Choice Award. Meanwhile, our panel of Innovation Awards judges vote to determine the winners of each of the 13 categories.

Come discover the 65 Finalists in the Innovation Awards, with hands-on demos of these trendsetting new contributions to the connected world. Vote for your favorite pick and join us as we reveal the winners in each category at the Innovation Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, March 13, 2018.

2018 Innovation Awards Categories


The SXSW Innovation Awards celebrate the most forward-thinking developments in the connected world. Below are the 13 award categories and six special honors that we will recognize at the 2018 Innovation Awards.

AI & Machine Learning

Honoring digital systems which have the ability to adapt to changing data, stimuli, and circumstances; replicating learning, problem solving, and cognition.

Health, Med, & BioTech

Honoring 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

Honoring the best new way to connect and communicate with others.

Music & Audio Innovation

Honoring 2017’s best device or service that changes and improves the way we listen to and enjoy music.

New Economy

Honoring 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

Honoring 2017’s most progressive accomplishment in the way we go about securing our data and ensuring our privacy.

Responsive Design

Honoring excellent digital design, creating the best-integrated interaction in terms of content, aesthetics, and functionality.

SCIFI No Longer

Honoring the coolest scientific achievement or discovery that before 2017 was only possible in science fiction.

Smart Cities

Honoring 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

Honoring the student with an exceptional interactive technology project or startup; both of which are the future.

Visual Media Experience

Honoring content creation and delivery that moves beyond passive viewership by providing a more immersive and engaging entertainment experience.


Honoring breakthroughs in augmented and virtual reality technology including the application of new hardware or software which truly make the virtual a reality.

Wearable Tech

Honoring 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 2018 Interactive Innovation Awards.

Breakout Trend of the Event

Awarded to the trend that gains the most traction during SXSW Interactive 2018.

Speaker of the Event

The speaker from SXSW Interactive 2018 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.

Meme of the Year

Awarded to the most ubiquitous meme that went viral in 2017 and we just can’t get it out of our heads or off of our screens.

2017 Interactive Innovation Awards Highlights

Check out the highlights from the Innovation Awards during SXSW Interactive 2017.

Eligibility, Terms & Conditions


2018 Interactive Innovation Awards applications are now closed.


A project or product submitted for the SXSW Innovation Awards must have launched or have been completely redesigned in calendar year 2017 (between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017).

For the purposes of the SXSW Innovation Awards eligibility, “launched” may mean any of the following things:

  • When a discovery is made / when a scientific paper is published / when a patent is approved
  • When a physical device is made tangible, (IE a prototype)
  • When the applicable regulatory body (FDA, FCC, etc.) approves a product / procedure for use
  • When the product is made commercially available
  • 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.

Judging and Evaluation

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

Finalist Showcase

Five finalists in each of the 13 categories will be announced in January 2018. Each finalist entry receives 2 complimentary SXSW Interactive registrations (badges) to attend the 2018 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 13, 2018. These materials must be supplied to SXSW no later than Friday, February 9, 2018.

Finalists in each of the 13 categories will be given demo space at the SXSW Interactive Festival during the 3rd annual SXSW Innovation Awards Finalist Showcase on Sunday, March 11, 2018. 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 11, 2018 event.

Winners in each of the 13 categories and the six special honor awards will be announced at the 21st annual SXSW Innovation Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, March 13, 2018.

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 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 Innovation Awards entrants will be given the chance to register to attend SXSW Interactive at the lowest early bird rate. SXSW Innovation Awards finalists receive 2 complimentary Interactive registrations.

Early Entry: Monday, June 26 – Friday, Sept. 22 — $75 fee
Regular Entry: Saturday, Sept. 23 – Friday, Nov. 10 — $150 fee
Final Entry Deadline: Sunday, November 12, 2017
There will be no late entry period for the 2018 Interactive Innovation Awards


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 Innovation Awards you will not be eligible for a refund.

More Questions

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

2017 Interactive Innovation Awards Winners


Health, Med, & BioTech

PRIME Needle Free Injector by Portal Instruments (Cambridge, MA)

Innovation in Connecting People

Blendoor by Stephanie Lampkin (San Francisco, CA)

Innovative – 3 DIY

3Doodler PRO by 3Doodler (New York, NY)

Music & Audio Innovation

HOLOPLOT Wave Field Generator by Holoplot GmbH (Berlin, Germany)

New Economy

Blinker App by Blinker Inc (Denver, CO)

Privacy & Security

D3CRYPT3D by PADECA LLC (Chamblee, GA)

Responsive Design

My Grandmother’s Lingo by SBS Online Australia (Sydney, Australia)

SCIFI No Longer

DuoSkin by MIT Media Lab | Microsoft Research (Redmond, WA)

Smart Cities

V3 by Pavegen (London, England)

Student Innovation

BionicM – Powering Mobility for All by Xiaojun Sun | JSK robotics lab at The University of Tokyo (Tokyo, Japan)

Visual Media Experience

JourneyMaker by The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)


Tilt Brush by Google (San Francisco, CA)

Wearable Tech

Halo 2 Made for iPhone Hearing Aids by Starkey Hearing Technologies | Karten Design (Eden Prairie, MN)

Special Honors

Best of Show

The Sensel Morph by Sensel (Mountain View, CA)

People’s Choice

Johnson & Johnson CaringCrowd by CI&T and R/GA (New York, NY)

Breakout Trend of the Event

Deep Machine Learning | accepted by Vint Cerf, Chief Internet Evangelist at Google and Founder of the People-Centered Internet

Speaker of the Event

Joe Biden

David Carr Prize

Mike Armstrong – “The Heart of Something Heartless”

Interactive Hall of Fame

Kara Swisher

Meme of the Year

Prankster Joe Biden

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