Insight Innovation Award Winners

Thanks for joining us for THINC! 2018

You know a speaker is hitting home when folks start taking out notebooks and writing things down! As 2018 THINC! Keynote Speaker Jerry Jendusa discussed how companies can maintain a culture of innovation, and all the things we think we are doing right that can actually get in the way of that innovation, you could see the notebooks come out and folks scribbling down ideas to take back to the office.

Gotta love it when the speaker and the audience really connect.

Jendusa guided the audience through the many definitions of innovation, many from companies right here in Northeast Wisconsin who were nominees for the 2018 Insight Innovation Award. Many great lessons to be learned right here.

Congratulations to those Innovation Award winners! We had so many great nominations that it was hard for our judges to narrow the field and select winners. The spirit of innovation is clearly alive and thriving in Northeast Wisconsin. We provide a brief capsule of the winners here and the video that played during the presentation. Additional details on each company will appear in the June issue of Insight on Business.

And now, the Innovation Award winners for 2018:

People: Faith Technologies Inc.

Menasha-based Faith Technologies has met the skilled-labor shortage crisis with innovative training and people development methods. The company invested in a ground-up growth strategy via its nationally accredited, in-house apprenticeship programs. Its programs allow the company to build its skilled workforce by up to 350 a year. In 2017, the company opened Faith Technologies University, a 35,000-squarefoot facility that provides apprentices with hands-on training.

Planet: Fork Farms

With its vertical indoor agriculture technology, Menasha-based Fork Farms challenges traditional ideas about farming. By building farms where people live and eat, the company combats food waste. With a system that recaptures energy and optimizes a plant’s natural metabolism, Fork Farms achieves growth rates almost double traditional soil growing for a fraction of the cost. In schools, its farming machine can teach kids about agriculture while encouraging them to eat healthier.

Process: J.J. Keller & Associates Inc.

When transportation regulations changed, J. J. Keller & Associates responded quickly, providing clients a seamless platform for meeting the requirements. With a new rule requiring a change from paper logging for driving time to electronic for long-haul drivers, the Neenah-based company reinvented its product and processes to meet industry needs. IT professionals in the Fox Valley engineered the solution, which led to 10 patents over four years.

Product: Wooda

The pieces Wooda, an online, direct-to-consumer furniture company, sells are not your ordinary big box store fare. The Omro outfit contracts with designers and manufactures pieces in limited quantity and numbers them in sequence. Each piece is branded and signed by the designer. Through its relationships with designers, Wooda produces and markets the designs, bringing something new to the market with no risk to the participating designer.

Special Award for Entrepreneurial Grit: R2H Flavor Technology, LLC

When the food flavoring company they worked for was sold to a foreign national, the founders of R2H Flavor Technology had a choice to make. No longer seeing a future for themselves after the acquisition, they chose instead to view the change as an opportunity. They started their own smoke manufacturing company in Manitowoc, designing a safer, more efficient system that allows for increased production while maintaining a smaller carbon footprint.

2018 Nominees

The 25 companies nominated for Insight Innovation Awards in 2018: Catalpa Health Inc.; Crane Engineering; Dodles Inc.; EDCi; Endries International, Inc.; energybank, Inc.; Evergreen; Faith Technologies Inc.; Fork Farms; Illumyx; J.J. Keller & Associates Inc.; Lanehub; Miravida Living; Miron Construction Co., Inc.; Pai; R2H Flavor Technology, LLC; TecDriven, LLC; TEDxOshkosh; Tweet/Garot Mechanical Inc.; Verity Financial Fraud Examiners; VHornet; VibeTech Inc.; Visionary Business Solutions Inc.; Wooda; Xensr. Read more about all the nominees here.

Past Insight Innovation Award winners

For videos and listings of previous Insight Innovation Award Winners, click here.