The SXSW Innovation Awards are a showcase for the latest transformative and forward-thinking digital projects from around the world. At a ceremony hosted at Austin’s Convention Center Monday 11 March, prizes were awarded across eleven categories, along with a Best in Show and a People’s Choice prize. This year’s winners acknowledged groundbreaking discoveries spanning cancer prevention, inclusion, mental wellness, and of course, artificial intelligence. Read on for our picks of this year’s winners.

1. Dot Pad (Best in Show)

Dot pad is a smart tactile graphics display that allows blind and visually impaired people to “see.” The assistive device uses AI to convert text, graphic and image input into a tactile display of raised dots. Produced by Seoul-based Dot Incorporation, Dot pad makes digital content accessible, from apps to maps and charts. It offers people with vision impairment much-needed independence, unlocks opportunities for work and creativity and makes entertainment and leisure more accessible.

2. Truveta Language Model (Artificial intelligence)

Healthcare data is notoriously messy and siloed and so difficult to use for research. The Truveta Language Model has transformed electronic health records into billions of clean, accurate data points which will enable researchers to study patient care and outcome. The model, created by US healthcare collective Truveta, is based on the largest and most diverse collection of records (currently more than 80 million patient journeys) and claims more than 90% accuracy.

3. Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Accelerator (Climate Change)

This one-year program powered by the non-profit Lonely Whale and sponsored by Tom Ford Beauty and The Estée Lauder Companies aims to accelerate and scale adoption of marine-safe, biodegradable seaweed-based alternatives to plastic film packaging. The initative supports three producers: UK start-up Notpla, India’s Zerocircle and US-based Sway, each winners of the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize in 2023.

4. Aya Contigo (Community empowerment)

Aya Contigo is a free app that helps vulnerable women navigate barriers to reproductive care, safeguarding their physical and emotional health when seeking a safe medication abortion. Devised by Canada-based NGO Vitala Global Foundation, the app provides emotional support and connections to resources to empower and support women and girls on their reproductive health journey. Vitala, which co-created the app in partnership with women in Venezuela, was inspired to bring the resource north to support Latinas in post-Roe United States, especially those in marginalized communities.

5. UbiGro Cover (What the Future prize)

Winning the prize for futuristic innovations that don’t neatly fit into any category, the UbiGro Cover, from advanced materials company UbiQD is a sustainable greenhouse cover that transforms they way crops absorb sunlight, ensuring optimum photosynthesis, for healthier plants and a better yield. The cover harnesses a technology called quantum dots, a Nobel Prize winning technique that converts UV and blue photons into the red photons that plants prefer.

Check out the full list of winners here.

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