CHICAGO--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Chicago’s most innovative businesses — those with new products and services that generate novel solutions to important problems — were honored at the 12th annual Chicago Innovation Awards on October 30, 2013 at the Harris Theater.
“Every winner of the Chicago Innovation Awards embodies this mindset, and each one has an inspiring story of achievement and vision.”
Representatives of the winning organizations receive a variety of honors including the opportunity to meet with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at City Hall, a meeting with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, ringing the NASDAQ bell in New York City, a profile in Crain’s Chicago Business, and three days of innovation training at the Disney Institute in Orlando, with tuition and accommodations included.
There were a record 562 nominations for the 2013 Chicago Innovation Awards, up 44 percent from 390 nominations in 2012. The awards are open to businesses of any size in any industry, and the winners represent a broad spectrum that reflects Chicago’s diverse industry landscape.
“Chicago is an innovation hub with talented business leaders who aren’t afraid to be bold, be confident, and try new approaches,” said Tom Kuczmarski, founder and co-chair, Chicago Innovation Awards. “Every winner of the Chicago Innovation Awards embodies this mindset, and each one has an inspiring story of achievement and vision.”
Several special awards were given including the Visionary Award presented to Stephanie Izard, Executive Chef at Girl and the Goat and Little Goat; the Cultural Innovation Award presented to Barbara Gaines and Criss Henderson of Chicago Shakespeare Theater; and the Spirit of Innovation Award given to Million Dollar Quartet, which also performed that evening.
The Chicago Public Library took home the Social Innovator Award for its Maker Space fabrication lab at the Harold Washington Library that provides the public with access to 3D printers, laser cutters, a milling machine, a vinyl cutter, and supporting design software.
The Collaboration Award, a new award for innovation resulting from a large and small firm working together, went to Ingenuity, an arts education organization, for its work in reintegrating the arts into Chicago Public Schools.
The 10 Chicago Innovation Awards winners in the main category are:
- Life Spine for its Aileron Expandable Posterior Fusion System that relieves pressure on spines
- Sagent Pharmaceuticals for its unique packaging and labeling approach to Heparin medicine
- Belly and its digitization of loyalty card programs for any merchant
- Braintree’s Venmo Touch service that speeds checkout across multiple mobile apps
- Rabine Group for PrimeComposite Flooring, the strongest industrial concrete floor in the world
- Optiva Signs for the SpellBrite rearrangeable LED signage that eliminates the need for neon
- Protein Bar, the healthy food and catering company expanding across the country
- FarmLogix, technology that connects local farms with schools, restaurants and institutions
- Anova Technologies for RF Connect, the only fiber optic/wireless hybrid transmission system
- First Alert for its miniature Atom Smoke and Fire Alarm
The 10 Chicago Innovation Awards winners in the up-and-comer category for startups are:
- PortaPure water filtration products
- Everpurse smartphone charging pocket
- Moxie Jean children’s clothing consignment
- SwipeSense data-driven hand hygiene system
- Nordic Auto Plow snow plow that attaches to any vehicle
- SiNode Systems’ anode technology for Li-ion batteries
- SceneTap foot traffic and demographic analytics for hospitality and retail businesses
- SimpleRelevance email targeting platform
- FarmedHere sustainable indoor farming
- AutonomyWorks that provides technology jobs for workers with autism spectrum disorder
“When you consider the impact of these innovations of the award winners, the depth and the quality of the more than 500 nominees, and the sheer volume of Chicagoland businesses that have created this wave of momentum and success, it is clear that Chicago is a respected global center of innovation,” said Luke Tanen, Executive Director, Chicago Innovation Awards.
A panel of 13 judges selected 100 finalists and the winners, with the exception of the People’s Choice Award which was determined by public vote. The People’s Choice Award went to tastytrade for its unique approach to creating entertaining and educational online video content for everyday investors.
Since its founding in 2002 by Dan Miller and Tom Kuczmarski, the Chicago Innovation Awards have grown to include a yearlong series of events advancing innovation including past winners showcases; scholarship competitions, Media, Capital & Talent Day; daylong educational courses, and receptions.
The Chicago Innovation Awards are supported by Gold Sponsors Hillshire Brands, Comcast Business, and Disney Institute; Silver Sponsors Dell, SMS Assist, Wintrust Financial, Vedder Price, Brinks, Gilson and Leone, Edelman, SmithBucklin and others.
About The Chicago Innovation Awards
The Chicago Innovation Awards, established in 2002, have grown from a single awards ceremony to a year-long series of events and activities designed to celebrate, educate and connect innovators in the Chicago region. The organization’s expansion has included formation of the Chicago Innovation Foundation, which promotes innovation education and provides scholarships to college students each year, and the Innovators Connection, which connects Chicago region start-ups with the needs of large corporations. For more information, visit www.chicagoinnovationawards.com, follow us at www.twitter.com/Chi_Innovation and view our profile at www.facebook.com/chicagoinnovationawards.