4th Annual Synapse Innovation Awards


Celebrate Innovation


The Synapse Innovation Awards returns for the 4th year to celebrate Florida’s innovators, risk takers, doers and creators for daring to see an opportunity to make something better, and to do it! This innovation showcase gives you visibility to those working hard and making a real impact. Industry experts and leaders will select the category and overall Grand Prize winners.

Entries will be evaluated by a hand-selected group of judges from top CEOs, innovation leaders and investors from across the state AND the Synapse community will also get to vote for their favorites.

The top two ranking companies in each category will be invited to present their company on the mainstage at the Innovation Showcase at Synapse Summit 2024 on Wednesday, February 28th. 

The winners of each category will be announced live at the showcase.

Award Categories

Florida-based companies can apply to one of the award categories below:

Community Impact

You have made a noticeable impact in the community in how we live, work or play. Entries can be a non-profit or for-profit business already implementing creative solutions or distributing resources to impact the community. This can be through education initiatives, sustainable best practices, tech solutions or social impact efforts outside of traditional “tech.”

Emerging Technology

Your company has developed a truly innovative technology or found new ways of applying existing technologies. These innovations can touch any emerging tech you can imagine from Web3 to healthcare, fintech to space tech, sustainability to defense tech and more.  

Tech Startup

Startups that are less than two years old can already make a big impact. Your entry should demonstrate your start-up journey including the discovery of the problem, your solution, and your successes in growth and impact thus far.

Innovative Product

Your product is currently available on the market and is unique and innovative.  Products will be considered for design and functionality, as well as their potential for impact.  

Growth Company

Your company has seen many successes and has expanded to sustain your projected growth. We want to recognize organizations that have demonstrated exponential growth in the last 12 months in company size, user adoption, or revenue.


Who can apply?

Any Florida-based innovator with businesses in different stages, industries and technologies that fit the award category you select. Applicants must select one category to be considered.

Does my business have to be based in Florida to apply for the award?

Yes, although we support innovation everywhere our mission is to highlight and support innovation in the state of Florida.

How does the process work?
  • Submissions are open until December 31st. 
  • Our panel of judges will review and score all applications to determine the top 2 in each category.  
  • The 2 companies in each category with the top scores will be notified by January 16th. They’ll be 
  • invited to present on Center Stage at Synapse Summit on Wednesday, February 28th at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.
  • The Synapse community will have the chance to weigh in to vote for their favorite in each category starting on January 22nd. 
  • Winners will be announced live on Center Stage at Synapse Summit 2024.
  • Each category winner will receive a custom made trophy, featured on Synapse website for a year and featured in Synapse write-up.
How do you “judge” innovation?

Is it by your audacity? Your impact? Your ability to see opportunity and need and take action to make a positive impact? Yes. All of these. 

Tell us about your insight. The spark that ignited your passion. What idea kept you up at night to the point that you had to act on it? Tell us about your goals. What was your catalyst for innovation?  

Tell us about your journey, the highs and the lows. With all of the unpredictability of this past year, what did you do to innovate, and what have you learned along the way? How did you connect different ideas, technology, tools, cross the barriers of different industries, to make something new? What went wrong? What went well? 

The key criteria our judges will consider are:

  • What problem did your innovation solve?
  • What impact did your innovation make?
  • Is it adaptable and/or scalable to other businesses, industries, or markets?
How much time do I have?

The application window is open from November 13th  –  December 31, 2023. After that things move pretty quickly:

  • Judging – January 1st – January 15th
  • Finalists will be notified – the week of January 15th
  • Finalist Showcase and Ceremony – February 28th at Synapse Summit in Tampa
Who will be judging?

It takes an innovator to know one. Judges will represent the key personas that drive a thriving innovation ecosystem. Investors, government leaders, entrepreneurs, talent from across Florida representing different industries, all provide a diverse view of innovation.

How are the judges selected?

Judges are selected by the Synapse board members, program committee, and staff based on their expertise and community involvement. They will be representative of industry, geography, expertise, and experience.

Can you tell me more about the Judging Criteria?

Companies will be evaluated against the following criteria:

  • Business Objective Clarity – The overall Company Mission and objectives must be clear to understand and clear why they exist. Tell us your why?
  • Innovation – How the team thought differently to solve a unique problem. This is the crux of the criteria. Outline, in detail, what the problem was and what made the solution innovative. 
  • Impact – What were the results and the perceived impact for the industry? Team? Or community?
  • Adaptability/Scalability – Can your innovation be scaled or adapted by others?
  • Resilience – How did you pivot or address a specific challenge?
How does the People’s Choice voting work?

Once the judges score all entries, Synapse will circulate information about the top 2 scoring companies in each category and a link so that anyone can vote.  The people’s choice winner will be a factor in the final scoring.

What will I win?

Each category winner will receive a custom trophy and bragging rights!

  • Access to Cloud services for a year
  • Annual Subscription
  • Finalists Seal (nominee’s website, social media pages, and marketing materials)
  • Philanthropic Contribution to a nonprofit of your choice
  • Winners Video (This professionally produced video will highlight the company’s winning product or service with a Synapse Innovation Award intro, including category placement and award designation)

All finalists will have the chance to showcase their company live on the Synapse Summit Maintage on Wednesday, February 28th. 

Do I need to have a Summit ticket to apply for the innovation awards?

Yes. Tickets are available at www.synapsesummit.com

When will the showcases and the awards show take place?

In person at Synapse Summit on February 28, 2024

Do I need to attend the Innovation Showcase in person?

Yes. All finalists will need to participate in person. 

2023 Grand Prize Winner

2023 Startup of the year

2023 community Impact

2023 Exponential Growth

2023 Emerging Tech

2023 Innovative product