While its spotlight was focused on the city, a number of suburban companies came away with top honors at the 15th annual Chicago Innovation Awards.
The annual awards, founded by Tom Kuczmarski, senior partner and president of Kuczmarski Innovation, and former Chicago business journalist Dan Miller, honor companies and organizations that develop new products and services that help define the region as an innovation hub.
News Bytes• RF IDeas in Rolling Meadows is landing more global distribution partnerships.
The manufacturer of in-building identification and access control readers recently established a partnership with Glocal Value, an Italian-based value added distributor and professional services company specializing in control and management of print and document solutions.
Glocal Value will provide distribution for RF IDeas' MFP card reader customers in Italy. it will also hold local stock and support training workshops for all RF IDeas products.
• Lisle-based manufacturer Molex has completed its acquisition of Phillips-Medisize Corp. a portfolio company of San Francisco-based private equity investment firm Golden Gate Capital.
Hudson, Wisconsin-based Phillips-Medisize is a global outsource provider with a focus on medical solutions that include drug delivery, mobile and portable medical devices, and primary pharmaceutical packaging and diagnostic products, including disposable insulin pens, glucose meters, inhalation drug delivery devices, single use surgical devices and consumable diagnostic components. Phillips-Medisize will operate as an indirect subsidiary of Molex.
• Technology integration company VT Group has selected Tellabs to provide a Passive Optical LAN solution for VT Group's new worldwide headquarters in Chantilly, Virginia.
"VT Group is Tellabs' 2015 Partner of the Year, and understands how OLAN benefits the IT industry, the end-customers, and their new worldwide headquarters," said Thomas C. Ruvarac, vice president of global sales and marketing at Naperville-based Tellabs. "VT Group knows through first hand experience that OLAN is a secure military-grade IT infrastructure that will dramatically improve VT Group's cybersecurity posture."
The new headquarters provides additional office, training facility, expanded laboratory and warehouse space. Tellab's solution was installed to showcase a simple, secure, and less expensive alternative to traditional copper-based LANs.
The OLAN system provides a converged design for all modern enterprise IT systems, such as VT Group's IP video delivery, unified communications (Skype for Business), Electronic Safety & Security (ESS), Audio & Visual (AV), Voice over IP (VoIP), and extensive Wi-Fi wireless.
The OLAN system delivers better security at the user, infrastructure and system levels compared to legacy copper-based LANs. The OLAN simplifies the network in a way that saves space and materials.
While perception may lead to the belief innovation happens only in the Loop, the awards highlight the reality that new ideas and concepts are indeed a regional affair. In fact, Executive Director Luke Tanen noted, of the record 643 nominees this year, 158 -- roughly 1 of 4 -- were based in the suburbs.
"We see innovations hailing from DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will counties every year. That is why the Chicago Innovation Awards takes a regional approach to celebrating and stimulating innovation," Tanen said. "It's our breadth of innovation that makes the entire Chicago region, including its far-reaching suburbs, a competitive economic hub."
A total of 25 organizations were selected by 12 judges from a pool of 100 finalist that were named in September.
Among the 15 winners in the main category was Deerfield-based Baxter International, for its AMIA automated peritoneal dialysis system with ShareSource remote patient management platform. The system uses a two-way, cloud-based platform that help guide end-stage renal disease patients through their home therapy, while allowing health care providers to remotely monitor and help patients manage their therapy.
Another main category winner was Oak Brook-based Federal Signal for its Vactor HXX Paradigm, a high-powered, compact hydro excavator vehicle. The compact truck can dig holes with water or air, as well as vacuum, contain and dispose of drill mud, power pneumatic, hydraulic or electrical tools. It can also transport and store replacement parts, equipment and tools, according to the Federal Signal website. The vehicle design was based on input from more than 100 utility company and contractor job site visits.
Website developer alligatortek, based in Chicago and Oakbrook Terrace, received a main award for its Menu Profit Builder designed for Rosemont-based US Foods. The app increases restaurant profits by calculating ingredient costs. Restaurant managers have the option to view information at detail or summary levels, which allows them to see exactly how much recipe and menu items cost. Customer attrition was reduced from 26 percent yearly to 13 percent, the company said.
Shorewood-based Danco also received a main category award for the Danco Perfect Seal, a toilet bowl protectant boasting superior performance over all wax rings.
Livingston Products, a Buffalo Grove product designer and manufacturer for several industries, was among 10 winners of Up and Comer award, which recognizes companies to watch for in the future. LPI received the award for its Freedom Trax, a powered tread device that allow manual wheelchairs to drive over rough terrain.
Chicago's Radio Flyer -- which has been a repeat top recipient of the Daily Herald Business Ledger's Best Places to Work in Illinois Award -- was honored with the Collaboration Award, for working with Tesla Motors to create Radio Flyer's Tesla Model S for Kids ride-on vehicle.
In addition to new products, the awards this year expanded into inclusion and diversity, giving its new Chicago Neighborhood Awards to three organizations focused on improving life and leading innovation within Chicago communities.
The awards also recognized women entrepreneurship, noting 10 of the 25 winning companies are led by women -- the highest percentage in its history. Margo Georgiadis, president of Americas at Google and co-leader of Women@Google, a global organization of 10,000 women in 45 countries to advance women in STEM, received the Visionary Award.