And the Winner Is…New England Innovation, at the MITX Technology Awards

6/17/09Follow @wroush

The Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange, an organization of 7,500 New England professionals in the Internet and digital marketing and advertising fields, handed out its yearly Technology Awards for the sixth time last night.

Meant to celebrate the local companies who are bringing the most innovative technologies to bear on real business problems, the awards covered 10 technical categories such as gaming, mobile technology, rich media, and devices, plus four general “Best Of” categories including customer impact, sector impact, usability, and “overall solution.” (See the full list of winners at the end of this article.)

Kiki Mills, the executive director of MITX, kicked off the 90-minute awards ceremony with a few results from the organization’s second annual survey of the Internet business and marketing industry. “The key finding is that we are big and we matter,” Mills said. The industry will contribute $28 billion to New England’s gross domestic product this year, she said, representing a 20 percent increase over 2008. The sector covers 2,100 companies employing a collective 69,000 people, Mills said. Given numbers like those, she said, there’s a need to bring more visibility to the region’s technology achievements—which is what the MITX Technology Awards are designed to do.

The winners in each category were chosen from a list of at least three finalists; the finalists had themselves been selected from a much larger pool of applicants by a group of about 60 volunteer judges from the local infotech sector. (Full disclosure: I was a judge for the mobile category.) The complete list of 2009 finalists is here.

Three companies—LogMeIn, Swaptree, and Vitality—achieved double honors, winning both in their technical categories and in the “Best Of” categories.

And four young companies were named as PricewaterhouseCoopers Promise Award winners, a new category created this year to honor companies under two years old whose technologies may not be fully deployed but nonetheless show significant potential. I’m proud to say that Xconomy spotted all of these companies before the MITX judges did, as our pieces on Crimson Hexagon, SCVNGR, Virtual Computer, and Wordstream attest. (See this March article for background on the creation of the promise awards.)

A highlight of the evening was the induction of Helen Greiner, the co-founder of iRobot and the founder of DroidWorks (as well as an Xconomist), into MITX’s Innovation Hall of Fame. In a lighthearted acceptance speech, Greiner joked that the only way she thought she’d ever be on the same list with previous Hall of Fame inductees, such as Amar Bose, Bob Metcalfe, and Ray Ozzie, was “in the phonebook.” Greiner said that Boston “has been on the bleeding edge of innovation since Bunker Hill,” from the American Revolution to the Industrial Revolution to the computer revolution and, of course, the robot revolution. After briefly recounting the history of iRobot, which is famous for both military and consumer robots, Greiner said she looks forward to continuing to innovate at DroidWorks, which will focus on unmanned aerial vehicles.

Without further ado, the list of MITX Technology Award winners:

Analytics and Business Intelligence: Oco

Cloud Computing: Pixily

Devices: Vitality

Enterprise Technologies: VidSys

Gaming: Turbine

Marketing and Customer Relationship Technologies: Affinnova

Mobile: LogMeIn

Online Advertising: ScanScout

Rich Media: EveryZing

Social Media: Swaptree

“Best Of” Award, Customer Impact: LogMeIn

“Best Of” Award, Usability: Vitality

“Best Of” Award, Sector Impact: Netezza, Ember Systems

“Best Of” Award, Overall Solution: Swaptree

PricewaterhouseCoopers Promise Awards:

Social Media: Crimson Hexagon

Gaming: SCVNGR

Cloud Computing: Virtual Computer

Online Advertising: Wordstream

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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