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The Inaugural Synapse Innovation Awards

innovation awards

Innovation Lives Here®

Especially in the past 12 months, we’ve been forced to think differently and act accordingly. It’s time to recognize the innovators, the risk takers, the doers and the creators, not for the amount of money they raised, the pace of their growth, or their spectacular success or failure, but for daring to see an opportunity to make something better, and to do it! 

The application period has ended, and judging has begun, but the excitement doesn’t end there. 

Finalists from each category will be invited to their respective Innovation Showcase, giving attendees the chance to discover innovative organizations from across the state of Florida during Summit 2021. The winners of each category, and a Grand Winner across all categories, will be announced at the finale awards event on Thursday, March 11th 2021! 

How does one “judge” innovation? 

Great question. Is it based on audacity? Conviction? Impact? Or the ability to see an opportunity or need that others simply have not to make something better? Yes. All of these. 

Over 85 applicants have submitted their insights with our team. They’ve told us about the spark that ignited their passion. The idea that kept them up at night to the point that they had to act on it.

They shared their goals and how this past year (2020) 2020 forced then to “pivot!” For many, this past year’s challenges were the catalyst for innovation. Many recalibrated our goals, started new companies, initiatives, and projects. Some moved states or cities. And some failed, dusted themselves off and started again stronger than before. 

Our judges are reviewing how exactly they innovated, what lessons they learned along the way, and how they connected different ideas, technology, and tools to cross barriers.  

The key criteria our judges are considering 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?

We can’t wait to share their stories with you!

Who are applicants competing against?

Other Florida-based innovators with businesses in different stages, industries and technologies. The criteria and questions are intentionally the same for each award category. Companies may categorize their business in one industry but their innovation could apply to another (like a healthcare company that found a creative way to keep data safe through cybersecurity innovations).


How does this work?

Applicants will be judged within their respective industry/field category. 

Finalists will be selected and invited to their category’s showcase. 

A winner for each category will be named at the Virtual Awards Show (March 11th, 2021), along with a Grand Winner across all categories.


What is the timeline?

The application window is open from Thursday January 14th to February 5th, 2021. After that things move pretty quickly:

  • Application Window January 14th to February 5th, 2021 ← CLOSED
  • Judging – February 8th – February 19th, 2021
  • Finalists will be notified – February 22nd – 24th, 2021
  • Finalist Showcases, each day of Summit 2021 – specific day depends on what track applicant is a finalist for
  • Virtual Awards Show – March 11th, 2021 6pm


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.


What will they win?

Ultimately they’re vying for both their category’s Synapse Innovation Award and the Grand Synapse Innovation Award Winner overall. The Grand Synapse Innovation Award Winner will be awarded a trophy, like the other category winners, as well as:

  • A seat on the 2021 Synapse Impact Board
  • Dedicated Media Coverage
  • An exclusive investor pitch opportunity

FAQ For Applicants

• 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 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 the specific challenges of this past year?

• What happens after I apply?
Review of all submissions against the set criteria (if you’ve missed anything important, we’ll contact you to clarify)

– All submissions will be sent to the judging panel for scoring
– Once the scores are finalized, a subset of applicants will be notified and chosen to participate in their respective industry showcase. See the High Level Agenda on our homepage to see what days each industry showcase will air. Finalists will need to be able to attend their showcase virtually, live.

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

Yes, we encourage all applicants to register for the Summit. General admission tickets are free! To make the most out of your experience, GA+ and VIP tickets garner access to the Brella Networking and Exhibition platform, in which AI powered connections can be made before, during, and after the event.

• When will the showcases and the awards show take place?
One Finalist Showcase per category will take place each day of Summit 2021 at 2pm. The Virtual Awards Show for the Grand Winner will be on March 11th, 2021 6pm.

• Do I need to attend the Virtual Awards Show to receive an award?
Attendance at the event is preferred but not required.