Project Awards

What are the INNOVATE Awards?

The INNOVATE Awards are for projects and consulting work that raises the bar of performance in New Zealand. The awards highlight projects that shift what is considered standard practice in the industry. It's about more than delivering "business as usual" or just doing a good job - it's going above and beyond. The awards change the game and elevate the industry. We choose to recognise this type of achievement as it constantly sets a new bar to achieve and continually evolves the talent and innovation within the industry. 

2019 winners

2018 winners

2017 winners

When a project has been identified as an exceptional community project, the judging panel can choose to bestow a Community Award. Learn more about the Community Award

Types of projects 

The INNOVATE Awards are the top engineering and consulting awards in the construction, infrastructure, built, and natural industries. They recognise excellence of achievement and are awarded for things that create a new level of business as usual.

It is often misunderstood that the winners are for innovative work only. Past winners have been recognised for such things as:

  • excellence in the consulting relationship
  • innovation in design
  • innovation in the consulting solution (finding a unique answer for the client)
  • or unique applications of existing technology

These are just a few examples of the type of meritorious efforts that have been rewarded in the past. Due to this constant evolution and striving to advance the standards, what is award-worthy in the past won't necessarily be award-worthy in the future. The awards celebrate this constant evolution of excellence.

What can be entered?

Historically, the entries focus on civil or structural projects, but the awards cover all facets of engineering and consulting. We want to encourage the constant evolution of excellence within the industry for both consulting and engineering work amid an array of practice and different types of consultancy work.

Examples of projects that aren't often considered include:

  • intimate/boutique projects
  • planning and resource management projects
  • consenting work
  • biotech projects
  • IT or digital deliverables
  • mechanical, fire, project management, building services, etc
  • consider flood protection, environmental, contaminated sites or heritage work

While the above are mere examples of less considered projects, we want to emphasise that all projects are welcome to enter. It's less about the project itself and more about the quality of work and consulting delivered.

What's involved in the process?

The review process for awarding excellence is rigorous. The Awards are not bound by categories and so there is no requirement to hand out an award if there are no worthy projects for a particular year. All projects are judged on their individual merit against the current industry standards and benchmarks for that year, both domestically and internationally. That means the only comparison we make is against "the bar" of current practice, technology, innovation, and service.

The judging panel is composed of between 25-35 judges, all experts in their given field with years of experience and knowledge. Each project is assigned between three to six judges with specialist expertise in that field to read and review the entry. Of each project team, one lead judge and one judge will often conduct in-person client and site visits to investigate the claims made in the submission. The judges will reach out to any major stakeholder involved in the process, often including the lead contractor, secondary client, or asset holder if applicable. The project is not only evaluated on what was delivered but also considers the intrinsic human element - the client satisfaction and consulting relationship for the project.

After the project team has read and inspected (through physical site visits for most projects) the entries, the entire judging panel comes together over two days to hash it all out before the full panel makes a final decision of whether or not to award recognition to the project.

As mentioned, the INNOVATE Awards do not have categories, but there are tiers of recognition. Gold (the premiere tier) acknowledges a superior project for innovative achievement or outstanding service which goes above and beyond the standard. Silver acknowledges projects which clearly demonstrate an great achievement and service to the client or for smart or innovative technology or project solutions. Finally, Merit is for projects which demonstrate a standard above that which normally could be expected from a project in either innovation or consulting delivery.


So now what?

Entries will open soon for the 2020 Awards. 

  • Monday, 10 February – Expression of Interest due 

  • Friday, 14 February – Confirmation to proceed or not proceed with submission will be sent from ACENZ 

  • Tuesday, 17 March – Submissions due 

  • Monday, 6 July – Finalists notified 

  • Wednesday, 5 August – Awards Gala 

If at any time you have questions email