Awards Luncheon



The FOURTH ANNUAL SACRAMENTO REGION INNOVATION AWARDS was held on Thursday, November 7. Eight winners and 11 finalists were recognized during the Awards Ceremony held at the Crest Theater in downtown Sacramento.

Recognizing its commitment to supporting the Sacramento area’s innovation economy, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) has been named Innovator of the Year. SMUD began serving Sacramento in 1946 and today is the nation’s sixth-largest community-owned electric utility. It is recognized nationally and internationally for its innovative energy efficiency programs and renewable power technologies.

“SMUD’s commitment to the Mobility Center, the Powerhouse Science Center, HackerLab, CleanStart and other organizations working to develop an innovation economy in the region, as well as its initiatives to address climate change, demonstrate that SMUD embodies the region’s spirit of innovation in thought leadership and environmental stewardship,” said Christopher L. Russell, a Stoel Rives partner and chair of the Sacramento Region Innovation Awards.

The Selection Committee evaluated nearly 70 eligible* entries, which were judged on novelty, market need, economic or social impact, and disruption. Committee members are drawn from the area’s civic, business, academic and technology sectors.

The Sacramento Region Innovation Awards program was founded by Stoel Rives LLP and is facilitated by the firm’s attorneys and professional staff. Moss Adams LLP validates the voting process and the Sacramento Business Journal events division provides promotional and management services.

Follow the conversation on Twitter and Facebook at #SacInnov8Awards.


The THIRD ANNUAL SACRAMENTO REGION INNOVATION AWARDS was held Thursday, November 1st, 2018. Eight winners and 13 finalists were recognized during the Awards Luncheon, held at the Hilton Sacramento Arden West and featuring master of ceremonies Kitty O’Neal of NewsRadio KFBK. “Innovation of the Year” winner Wide Open Walls was featured on Good Day Sacramento that morning. Visit our Facebook page for more event photos and videos of the 2018 FINALISTS. Visit the Sacramento Business Journal for coverage on the winners’ roundtable conversation and all-nominee reception. Join our Mailing List to stay current with 2019 submission deadline and other news.


The 2017 Awards Luncheon was held at the Hilton Sacramento Arden West on Tuesday, November 7, 2017.


The second annual awards luncheon recognized 6 winners and 10 other finalists during the 1.5-hour luncheon and awards ceremony. The preceding Innovation Showcase and networking portion of the event were enjoyed by all, as seen in this Facebook Live video. Nearly 250 innovation enthusiasts attended the celebration, kicked off by the master of ceremonies Scott Moak, public address announcer for the Sacramento Kings. Prior to revealing the 2017 winners, program organizers honored UC Davis as Innovation of the Year, in recognition of the university’s role as champion of innovation and entrepreneurship in the Capital Region. Chancellor Gary S. May accepted the trophy on behalf of UC Davis and offered keynote remarks [video]. Program co-chairs Melissa Jones and Chris Russell of Stoel Rives spotlighted award category finalists through a series of video montages, with each winner joining them onstage for congratulatory remarks.

Esteemed Selection Committee members were also honored and thanked for their service and dedication to a rigorous judging process that took place over 6 weeks in August and September. The committee reviewed more than 75 submissions resulting in a final vote process overseen by Tony O’Donnell of Moss Adams LLP.

Closing remarks by David Lichtman, Publisher of the Sacramento Business Journal, highlighted the roles creativity and the arts play in fostering the region’s innovation economy, summarized nicely here by program supporter Cameron Law. Lichtman also previewed the “Innovators Roundtable,” a conversation among this year’s winners, moderated by the Journal’s Editor-In-Chief Adam Steinhauer. [article, subscription required]

In addition to in-depth reporting by the Sacramento Business Journal, including a slideshow of the day’s festivities, news outlets Fox 40 and Good Day Sacramentopreviewed the big day.


The inaugural awards luncheon was held Friday, November 4, 2016, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Sacramento. Entrepreneur and talk radio host Mark Haney of the HaneyBiz Project served as the afternoon’s emcee. Prior to revealing the 2016 WINNERS, organizers honored Golden 1 Center as Innovation of the Year. Sacramento Kings President Chris Granger accepted the trophy and provided a keynote speech highlighting the arena’s impact on the surrounding community and its industry-leading commitments to sustainability, technology innovation, and local industry. See this fact sheet, produced a year later, for more on the arena’s impact.

The StartupSac podcast interviewed a number of the 2016 honorees to find out what they’ve been up to since winning the awards:

Podcast with Tracy Shafizadeh, Director of Scientific Communications, Evolve Biosystems (Medical & Health Winner)

Podcast with Justin Boatman, VP of Marketing & Communications, Riskalyze (Software Winner)

Podcast with Jordan Darling, Founder, Free Form Factory, Inc. (Advanced Manufacturing Winner)

Podcast with Rob White, Chief Strategist at Sierra Energy (Sustainability Winner)

Podcast with the program organizing team at Stoel Rives LLP

See the “ABOUT” page for our video and photo gallery, and visit the “IN THE NEWS” posts for more coverage.