Alabama Innovation Awards

The Alabama Innovation Awards celebrate innovation achievements occurring across the state. The awards were created to raise awareness of the importance of innovation based economic development, and to encourage entrepreneurs and inventors to continue and accelerate this important work. Innovation can happen all across the state. It can happen anywhere. It can happen in a machine shop, in a university lab, or in emerging and traditional industries. It can happen in rural areas and in metros.

2015 Outstanding Public-Private Partnership For Innovation

The Outstanding Public-Private Partnership for Innovation award is presented to the City of Montgomery & Infinitus Energy. IREP-Montgomery's Materials Recovery Facility opened in April 2014, and this partnership has since created more than 100 local jobs, while diverting more than 60 percent of residents' waste from the municipal landfill through Infinitus Energy’s advanced waste processing system.

2014 Inventor Of The Year

Dr. Emil Jovanov, an associate professor in UAH’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, has two patents for the Smart Bottle that reminds patients when to take their medicine. One of the students included in the project, Sreca Jovanov, is also a co-inventor on the original patent for his contributions in the sensor development. While he has enjoyed success with this invention and others, Dr. Jovanov said he involves students because he wants to inspire the next generation of innovators. “I like to incorporate senior design students and graduate students on research projects,” Dr. Jovanov said. “It enhances the quality of education by providing them an opportunity to collaborate.”

2014 Lifetime Achievement In Innovation

If you do a computer search for feature stories on the life of Lonnie McMillian, the Huntsville-based entrepreneur, engineer and innovator, chances are you will not find many, if any. McMillian, co-founder of two Alabama giants, ADTRAN, Inc., and HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, has committed his life to building a foundation for growth in research, development and business, but he prefers to stay away from the limelight. “Lonnie’s name probably could show up on quite a number of buildings not only here but in a lot of areas. But he is a very unassuming person,” said ADTRAN President and CEO Tom Stanton. “He doesn’t do things for the spotlight. He does things because they’re right. He does things because he understands the long-term impact that someone can have on the world as a whole.”

2014 Corporate Innovator Of The Year

Headquartered in Birmingham’s Oxmoor Valley, Atherotech Diagnostics Lab has led the cardio-diagnostic industry in recent years with its proprietary technology, the patented VAP Lipid Panel.® But the company’s leaders have taken Atherotech even farther using innovative approaches to technology, education and distribution. In 2013, Atherotech launched the second generation lipid profile, the VAP + Lipid Panel® (VAP+), which includes a one-of-a-kind Vertical Lipoprotein Particle technology to provide a true lipoprotein particle count. “Our tools help doctors by providing accurate information, so they can develop effective individualized treatment plans and track patient progress in battling heart disease,” said Jonathon Morgan, marketing communications manager for the company.

2014 Outstanding Product Or Service

Conversant Biologics is located in Huntsville, but its work touches laboratories and biotechnology companies throughout the country. The company’s co-founders recognized a need in the market for bio-specimen procurement that quickly provides quality tissue and blood samples to researchers. “We started Conversant because we saw that the research model was broken,” said Marshall Schreeder, co-founder and chief executive officer. “It takes too long for the new treatment and diagnostics to get to the patient. There were too many failures late in the process, and it was too expensive.”

2014 Outstanding Startup Business

BLOX LLC resurrected a site in Bessemer, formerly used to build railroad boxcars, and now produces time-saving medical modules for patient rooms at some of the nation’s largest hospital groups. In less than three years, the 2014 Outstanding Startup Business has increased its number of Alabama-based employees from six to 100, who design and construct modular headwalls, restrooms and exam rooms for companies, including HealthSouth, Hospital Corporation of America and Cardiovascular Associates. The company is led by Chris Giattina, the CEO and chief strategist, who believes it’s always possible to build better and more efficient projects.

2014 Outstanding Woman Or Minority In Innovation

It was 25 years ago that Dr. Gwen Fewell came to America from India to study at Florida State University in the Neuroscience doctoral program under the mentorship of Dr. Michael Meredith. Since then, via a path through Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center; The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston; and startup biotechnology company, Open Biosystems in Huntsville, Dr. Fewell has developed many relationships through vast circles in the research and business community. She relies on those relationships as co-founder and chief commercial officer at TransOMIC to help propel the start-up company. With a diverse background of research, product management, marketing and entrepreneurship, Dr. Fewell is a domain expert in gene based technologies and market dynamics.

2014 Startup Executive Of The Year

Dr. Michael Chambers founded Swift Biotech in 2010 and specializes in guiding technologies through the development, patent and regulatory process to commercial development. One of the technologies licensed by Swift from MCI was awarded a $1.2 million grant from the National Institute of Health and received an international award for Best Global Research. Though he focuses on the business aspects, the development team features world class physicians and researchers who focus on the clinical issues related to ovarian cancer.

2014 University-Corporate Partnership

Tim Dunnigan, a 22-year military man who has been deployed in three wars and conflicts, entered the business of breeding and training smart dogs for explosives when he retired from his duties at Ft. Benning, Georgia. The business was successful, but he wanted to make it better. He reached out to Auburn University, home to one of the nation’s top schools for K9 detection training, to get assistance with assessment and analysis of his processes in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

2015 Lifetime Achievement in Innovation

The Lifetime Achievement in Innovation Award recognizes a person who has demonstrated a career-long commitment to innovate, coupled with a measurable record of success that has contributed to Alabama’s progress and to its potential for future economic growth. Gary York has more than 30 years of experience in enterprise commercial software development and is one of Alabama’s most respected serial entrepreneurs with a track record of starting and growing technology companies to success. As the founder of three successful technology companies, Gary’s innovative solutions have enhanced routine outpatient healthcare, increased physician productivity and improved hospital profitability. He is a popular speaker and author in entrepreneurship and technology and is working to develop the next generation of technology entrepreneurs.

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