It’s always interesting to see how different companies approach innovation.
In this, our fifth year of coordinating the Insight Innovation Awards and announcing the winners at our THINC! conference, we see everything from mature companies, turning things upside down with technology, to startups taking a risk on a great idea.
In total, we had 25 entries. Reading through them — and learning about all the clever and innovative ways to make things, to get things done and to motivate people — was a humbling experience. Although Insight staff members were impartial in the selection process, our independent panel of judges spent a good amount of time reviewing every application and debating those that rose to the top.
The judges chose five winners, in the categories: People, Product, Process and Planet — plus a special award that only one name fit: “Entrepreneurial Grit.”
And isn’t that what it’s all about?
Our 2018 winners were announced at our annual THINC! event in May. Recaps of their innovation stories appear in this special section. A list of our all nominees appears at the left.
In the category “Process,” the award went to J. J. Keller & Associates, the Neenah-based company that built its business back in 1953 advising trucking companies about federal regulations, and over decades, expanding its offerings to many other industries. But in recent years, J. J. Keller took the plunge to completely transform its business by embracing technology and taking its products digital.
Faith Technologies, based in Menasha, is our winner in the “People” category. Most companies offer employee training, but Faith went innovative with its commitment to employee learning. It developed its own nationally accredited apprenticeship programs, converted a former office into a training center and as a result, has positioned itself to add up to 350 skilled workers annually.
By now you’ve probably heard of the indoor gardening trend. But you may not know that right here in our own backyard, a startup company in Menasha called Fork Farms has developed a truly innovative, portable system for growing greens with lights, indoors, year-round. Our judges called it “transformational, not just locally, but globally.” Fork Farms is our winner in the category “Planet.”
Wisconsin has a long history of pride in craftsmanship. Wooda, a company based in Omro, takes in exceptional furniture designs from companies nationwide and then produces them at no cost to the designers. Designers receive royalties on sales. Brilliant, huh? Wooda is our winner in the “Product” category.
This year, our judges granted a special award, for “Entrepreneurial Grit”, to R2H Flavor Technology of Manitowoc. The company “really boot-strapped it,” our judges said, when they launched their new business in the condensed smoke industry.
Do you know an innovative company — or is your own company deploying innovation? Let us know! Nominations are open now for the 2019 Insight Innovation Awards.
INSIGHT INNOVATION AWARDS: Nominations accepted for 2019
The Insight Innovation Awards are designed to encourage innovation among businesses in Northeast Wisconsin that lead to breakthrough technologies, processes and/or company cultures and make an important, positive impact on their companies, employees, customers, vendors, industries, communities and/or the environment.
Award winners serve as examples of best practices in innovation that significantly improve the bottom line, grow the business or heighten employee morale. They may also prove themselves as innovation leaders in their communities or their industries.
Nominees will be notified of their nomination by Insight Publications and invited to fill out an application on our THINC! website. Self-nominations are encouraged!
Eligibility: Any company based in the 18-county region of New North that has been in business for at least one year as of Jan. 1, 2019. Companies may be headquartered outside of the region, but applicants must have leadership in Northeast Wisconsin.