Press the play triangle above to watch brief interviews with the winners.
Companies and leaders helping companies defend against hackers, and those providing solutions for better health care, were among those recognized during the 19th Annual Tampa Bay Tech Awards show.
Friday evening at Armature Works in Tampa, the organization named 15 finalists and the winners in six different award categories, spotlighting local tech emerging leaders and companies.
Meet the award winners
Emerging Tech Company of the Year:
Winner: BlackStraw, a Tampa-based provider of artificial intelligence solutions, including digital processing. It has over 200 employees and works with Fortune 500 companies.
- Ballast Services: A Tampa-based cybersecurity company.
- Smart Edge Technologies: The firm has a Tampa office and tracks people, products and purchases over time.
- Spontivly: The St. Petersburg-based startup, which is a member of Tampa Bay Wave, developed a community management platform and is described as the “Google Analytics for the community.”
Emerging Tech Leader of the Year
Winner: Marissa Huggins, COO and co-founder at Spontivly. She leads a team of 13 people and is the top employee of the company. She was awarded the COO title when she was just under 24 years old.
What she had to say: “There are no words to thank everybody who’s believed in me and truly made this happen. I want to thank the team at Tampa Bay Wave, who has really believed in the company, and my family back home. Most importantly, I’d like to thank my mentor.”
- Eddie Austin, Senior Marketing Manager at Jabil.
- David Labadie, Director of Digital Workplace Technology at Raymond James.
- Shama Rathi, COO and co-founder at LunaJoy Health.
- Abbas Rehmani, Product Manager at Masonite.
Tech Project of the Year (company)
Winner: Edgility Inc., a Tampa-based company that specializes in its outcomes-centric AI platform for workflow management in the health care sector. It’s the country’s first AI company platform to bring hospital-level care to people’s homes. It has a partnership with the University of South Florida to help address the gap in the shortage of nurses.
- Geographic Solutions Inc.: The Palm Harbor-based company builds integrated workforce development systems, helping employers connect with potential employees and having market insights.
- Greenway Health: The Tampa-based company develops management software to streamline workflows, helping providers improve patient outcomes and practice health.
- OPSWAT: Tampa-based OPSWAT is a leading provider of critical infrastructure protection (CIP) cybersecurity solutions. The firm was the winner of Tampa Bay Tech’s Tech Company of the Year Award last year. It is a member of Tampa Bay Wave.
Tech Leader of the Year
Winner: Kali Durgampudi, CTO at Zelis
What he had to say: “Tampa Bay Tech is very near and dear to my heart. When I first came to Tampa Bay about four years ago, Tampa Bay Tech was an organization I got involved with … this is just me on everyone’s behalf accepting this [award].”
Technology Company of the Year (company)
Winner: A-LIGN, a Tampa-based cybersecurity compliance company. Scott Price, CEO of A-LIGN, was the winner of the 2021 Tampa Bay Tech Community Dedication and Leadership Award. It is a member of Tampa Bay Wave. The cybersecurity, assurance and compliance solutions company has 350 employees, offices in five countries and 2,500 customers around the world, according to its website.
A-LIGN CEO and founder Scott Price said “The DNA we have at A-LIGN is driven by Tampa Bay Tech, it’s driven by the founders who are here – the torch is inside all of us. It’s amazing what Tampa has accomplished. We are so honored and excited to be in Tampa.”
- 3D Cloud by Marxent: The St. Pete-based 3D virtual reality firm Marxent specializes in augmented reality projects for omnichannel retailers — including Lowe’s, Ashley HomeStores and Macy’s.
- Chargebacks911: The Clearwater-based company is dedicated to helping merchants combat post-transactional fraud.
- MAS Global Consulting: The Tampa-based company offers custom software solutions for startups to Fortune 100 companies.
Amy Alley, executive director of the Think Big for Kids nonprofit and a former president and CEO of Tampa Bay Tech, presented the final award of the evening – the Community Dedication and Leadership Award.
It was awarded to the late George Gordon.
In the early 2000s, he took the helm of Enporion, a utility owned supply chain management company. He later purchased the company, which he sold in 2011.
He served on numerous boards, including the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, Florida Technology, Research and Scholarship Board, Florida High Tech Corridor Council, Tampa Bay Innovation Center, Florida Next Foundation and Tampa Bay Wave, according to his biography.
Alley, who worked with Gordon during her stint at TBT, described him as an inspiration and a leader at the time of a true turning point.
In a video presentation, locally renowned tech leaders shared their experiences with Gordon and his lasting impression.
Linda Olson of Tampa Bay Wave said: “It would be impossible to overstate the impact that George Gordon has had in Tampa Bay and our tech campuses. He literally laid the groundwork for the tech ecosystem we enjoy today.”
Michelle Bauer, CEcD of the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council: “George had a vision for putting the Tampa Bay technology community on the map … he set a big goal for the Tampa Bay tech market to be a top 10 market by 2015. We didn’t make it that early, but here in 2022, Tampa Bay is one of the 10 in the county for tech.”
Steve MacDonald, founder of MacDonald Ventures: “He really is the mayor of the Tampa Bay tech scene … he was relentless in his pursuit trying to put Tampa on the map to be a tech center.”
Tony DiBenedetto, chairman and CEO of Appspace and founder of Think Big for Kids: “When I think about what George meant to the Tampa Bay community, the first thing that pops into my mind is his vision. Among the leaders, he had the biggest vision – he was pulling us forward.” DiBenedetto also spoke on Gordon’s genuine character.
Additional leaders also spoke as well as Gordon’s wife, Donna, who accepted the award on his behalf.
“A couple weeks after he died, I was trying to make sense of it all,” Donna Gordon said, stating how he reminded her of The Giving Tree as he would support everyone around him without a sense of obligation.
Donna informed the attendees that his cause of death was due to complications from Parkinson’s disease, which they believed was contracted during his service in the military when he was exposed to Agent Orange.
She said his health quickly deteriorated when he was diagnosed three years ago, later being diagnosed with multiple systems atrophy, which has the components of Parkinson’s and ALS.
“He went from being our George to not being able to walk or talk,” Donna said.
She asked the attendees to make a donation in his memory to the MSA Coalition.