The 2020 Insight Innovation Awards recognized five organizations in the New North whose innovative ideas make a real difference in their industry or community. In addition to handing out awards in the categories of People, Planet, Process and Product, our team of judges also awarded a Special Award in Marketing to the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
This Appleton-based company launched in 2011 as a way to help small- and medium-sized organizations maximize their social media efforts. BConnected has developed a special business model to create an affordable way for smaller businesses to elevate their social media efforts, allowing them to work with top-level creative professionals.
Boldt developed its Project Delivery Production System, allowing teams to plan and manage construction projects using lean principles. The system ensures a project meets or beats targeted construction schedules and costs, saving millions of dollars while also improving schedule reliability, reducing waste, increasing efficiency and preventing costly rework.
Briess implemented the Seed to Specialty sustainability program, acquiring a major grain elevator operation connecting a network of 250-plus experienced barley growers to Briess’ receiving, processing and storage operation in Manitowoc. Connected by rail, the two facilities allow Briess to reduce environmental impact, streamlining raw barley transportation to the equivalent of almost 10 million fewer miles driven annually.
The C.A. Lawton Co. has applied lean principles to the casting process. Through continuous improvement thinking, the company has challenged itself to look at every process to eliminate waste. All team members are trained and encouraged to constantly look for improvements benefitting all stakeholders.
This Oshkosh-based organization added a facility emotional support dog to its team to better serve survivors. Ross, a canine advocate, works with domestic abuse sufferers, helping to de-escalate high emotions so clients can work through trauma and heal. Ross also helps children staying in the shelter and staff members, who can experience burnout and secondary trauma.
Based in Manitowoc, the Coolest Coast effort uses digital content to highlight local attractions, businesses and people that make a difference in Manitowoc County. The effort promotes a positive community dialogue, encouraging tourism and fostering economic development along the lakeshore. By calling attention to the quality of life in the area, Coolest Coast can help businesses recruit and retain top talent.
The De Pere-based organization helps build a diversified workforce in the New North through the advancement of women by providing intentional access to those who have achieved significant roles in business. The Connective uses a model of providing a physical space for knowledge sharing, business development and personal growth combined with a platform where preferred providers offer their knowledge and expertise.
These high-performance socks were created to blur the lines between dress and play. The company uses 80 percent Peruvian alpaca fiber in its socks, which are designed to provide comfort and performance for both work and working out. Users can wear the socks for consecutive days without odor, making them a perfect business trip sock.
This national and global messaging organization developed a unified safety communication system in Green Bay to turn a mass of smartphones into an active Alert System, directly connecting to law enforcement. It adds an additional layer of security to the organization, resulting in reduced fear, increased confidence and enhanced performance.
The Oshkosh-based company’s data visualization service, Cognition, harvests and analyzes raw data from transactions, itineraries, traveler surveys and other sources. Cognition translates the data into actionable insights for clients and shows why key performance indicators are trending. It provides predictive analytics, helping corporate travel managers prepare for long-term trends.
Under third-generation family ownership, Appleton-based Industrial Nameplate added a CNC router into its process — a huge project and improvement for the 60-year-old company. The tool cuts fabricating time in half or better. The company also has reduced human fabricating errors, and its on-time delivery for its largest customer is 99 percent.
This Neenah-based social venture helps nonprofits improve their technology capacity. The organization launched NPlace.org, a free social community for nonprofits that empowers them to help one another. IT Forward also launched a pilot to help nonprofits set up Office 365 at a fraction of the typical cost, aiming to help nonprofits across the country.
In 2019, the Neenah company launched the Zing platform, a consumer warranty product that provides jewelers with reliable warranty coverage to offer their customers. Zing expanded to include a reimagined shipping experience to make it easy for jewelers and wholesalers to compare and choose the best delivery options to suit their needs.
Kohler’s WasteLAB reshapes the traditional manufacturing process through use of discarded materials. WasteLAB reuses unfired pottery cull, discarded enamel and other traditional manufacturing “waste” streams to create products such as ceramic tiles and tabletops. It was founded in 2013 as a part of Kohler Co.’s Innovation for Good program, an incubator focused on developing and implementing sustainable business solutions.
The Fond du Lac manufacturer of outboard engines uses 100 percent recycled aluminum in the die casting of outboard engines and introduced innovative waste energy recovery techniques that have reduced annual energy consumption by 9 billion BTUs annually, equivalent to 73,000 gallons of gasoline. Mercury has reduced raw material usage without sacrificing performance and durability in its final product.
With an individual-oriented approach to nutrition and health care, Nutritional Healing has customized programs to suit its clients’ unique lifestyles and conditions. The Appleton-based company has expanded quickly as it has helped clients prevent surgeries and eliminate the need for prescription medications.
The Howard-based company created a web-based software tool — the NVR Scheduler — allowing a business to create, modify and run work schedules for their employees from any computer. The NVR Scheduler is a custom-tailored, affordable, local technology that greatly reduces the time clients spend on building schedules for employees. The software can incorporate both organizational and individual rules.
The Oshkosh Food Co-op was incorporated as a not-for-profit co-op in 2013 with the goal of creating a member-owned, full-service grocery store in Oshkosh’s central city. Partnering with local food sourcing, the co-op offers symbiotic benefits between consumers and suppliers, encouraging sustainable farming and healthier food sources in a food desert area. Following a successful fundraising campaign, construction will begin soon on the grocery store.
The Combined Locks-based company created an app for researching targeted hashtags for users to attach to their social media content. The app, which started as an internal tool, helps users connect with niche audiences to grow their following and engagement and quickly locate the most relevant hashtags for their content.
Priority Inc. of Sheboygan developed a proprietary backlit illuminated fabric cabinet sign that allows customers to efficiently change their marketing message with a low-cost replacement fabric. The Lumiscape product was designed to suit retailers, corporate environments and other facilities that want impactful graphics that can be changed on a regular basis at an affordable cost.
Roving Blue developed the O-Pen, an advanced pocket water purifier that uses a special electrolytic ozone that is stronger than chlorine when dissolved in water, killing microbes quickly and reverting to oxygen. The O-Pen is the Lena-based company’s first and best-selling item, representing a whole new class of personal water purification devices.
The organization created an entrepreneurship specialist position to increase entrepreneurial activity in the county. The position directly impacted growth in all four SCEDC core focuses: entrepreneurship, workforce development, site selection/attraction and alternative financial solutions. The county is now the state’s largest producer of small business capital formation with $47.2 million from 2015 through 2019.
The national accounting and consulting firm has launched several initiatives, including digital services that support entrepreneurs and startups. It also created Connect for Contractors, a technology platform powered by Microsoft that optimizes processes for contractors, and developed a global volunteer system for Operation Smile, which connects more than 6,000 volunteers working for children needing cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries across 60-plus countries.
Any business or organization that utilized innovation to make a substantial change to a product or process; employee and customer relations; and sustainability. We’re looking for quantifiable results and compelling stories to tell our readers.
Yes, self nominations are encouraged.
Winners are selected by a panel of anonymous judges and Insight staff members based on the review of the nomination forms. Judges look for a compelling story about innovation at a New North business or organization.
The adage “show, don’t tell” applies here: Use concrete examples to persuade the judges that the nominee has used innovation to make a mark on the New North business community. The best nominations are clear, concise and complete, providing details that substantiate a nominee’s success.
Any business or organization with substantial operations in the New North, an 18-county region in Northeast Wisconsin.