The Innovation Awards honor manufacturers and suppliers who bring new, innovative products for the boating industry to market.

NMMA partners with Boating Writers International (BWI) to provide knowledgeable and unbiased judges. Volunteer members of BWI (including editors, staff and freelance writers) bring a thorough working knowledge of boats and boating products, as well as general marine expertise, to the judging process.

Innovation Awards are presented at the Progressive® Insurance Minneapolis Boat Show® (MBS), the Progressive® Insurance Miami International Boat Show™ (MIBS) and the International Boat Builders’ Exposition & Conference (IBEX).


Marine manufactureres and authorizes suppliers are invited to enter their new products.

To be eligible for an Innovation Award, products must meet the following:

  • Exhibit innovative distinction from other products currently manufactured in the marine industry
  • Exhibit substantial modification or adaptation to the marine market if the product is an extension from a non-marine or general market
  • Provide benefit to the marine industry and/or consumer
  • Provide practicality of use
  • Be cost-effective 



1. Validate product entry.

Products must qualify under these rules:

  • Product must be on display in its finished, sellable state at the time of the Show at which it is entered.
  • Product must be sold and marketed or “shipping to market” at the time of the Show at which it is entered or for sale to the public within 60 days after the end of the Show. No concept products will be considered.Product must not have been previously submitted for an Innovation Award at any other Show (MBS, MIBS, IBEX).
  • Product cannot have been marketed or sold in the U.S. more than one year prior to being entered for an Innovation Award at any Show.

2. Enter the program.

Participation in the Innovation Awards is open to manufacturers and authorized suppliers who are contracted as exhibitors at the designated Show where the program is hosted. A registration fee of $400.00 (non-member) / $350.00 (NMMA member) will be charged per product entry. This fee is non-refundable once program entry has closed. 

Entry will be considered complete when the following three steps have been fulfilled:

  • Step One: Complete and submit entry form.
  • Step Two: Upload required material (product photo, company logo and product video) to unique Dropbox folder.
  • Step Three: Remit payment. 

Products will not be accepted or considered after the program’s entry deadline. Entries close one month before the Show—exact dates highlighted within the program’s Rules & Regulations. 

3. Product inspection and judging. Judges will review product entries before the Show to prepare for the onsite inspection. Inspections with entrants and product(s) will take place two days before the Show opens. The inspection schedule may vary by Show depending on the number of entries and logistics. A representative must be available to provide the physical product and a concise description of the innovation, answering any outstanding technical questions. This person must be available at a minimum, two days prior to the Show open. Once inspections of all products are complete, the judges deliberate and determine the winners. If no product in a given category is deemed innovative as described by the judging criteria, no award may be given in that category. If there are multiple products that are close competitors, an Honorable Mention may be awarded to a product that did not win. Honorable Mentions do not receive a trophy, however, recipients can promote their Honorable Mention status in their marketing materials.



Winners will be announced during the Show at the respective award’s ceremony:

  • Minneapolis Boat Show Innovation Awards are presented during the Sneak Peek event which takes place Wednesday evening before the Show open.
  • Miami International Boat Show Innovation Awards are presented during the Innovation Breakfast which takes place Friday morning during the Show. A breakfast ticket is required for entry. Tickets cost $40 and are not included with entry.
  • IBEX Innovation Awards are presented during the Industry Breakfast which takes place Tuesday morning before the Show open. A breakfast ticket is required for entry. Tickets cost $40 and are not included with entry.



  • Access an entry form. Entry forms are unique to each program and each exhibitor. To receive an entry form to the Minneapolis or Miami program please email Rachel Harmon at [email protected] your contracted company name and booth location. To submit an entry to the IBEX program, access the entry form here.

  • Select product category. Only one product category can be selected at the time of entry and should be represented by the basic functionality or innovation of the product.

  • Create product description. The product description, no longer than 250-words, should explain what makes the product new and truly innovative. Do not include company history or traditional marketing details. Additional supporting material that further describes the product and its benefits can be submitted directly to the unique Dropbox folder.

  • Create product video. A product video must be submitted to validate entry. The video, lasting no longer than three minutes, should showcase the innovative features of the product in a succinct manner. The video can demonstrate how the product works or simply highlight the product’s innovation(s). Please do not submit promotional videos. Videos can be submitted in mp4, mov, video sharing link (YouTube, Vimeo) formats. Videos are viewed by the judging panel only. Production quality is not judged.

  • Review the Market. Check other manufacturers’ products to ensure that your product is actually an innovation. Often, the judges find that while a product is an innovation for a particular company, other companies have had similar products on the market for years. If the product is brought over from another market as a market extension into the marine industry, it will need to show substantial adaptation or modification to qualify as a “new” product under the program’s definition of “innovation”. Packaging or promotion changes do not qualify as innovations and the product will be viewed only as a market extension of an existing product.


Contact: Rachel Harmon
Program Manager, NMMA