The Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest contributes to economic and community development as the champion of innovation and entrepreneurship in Northwest Indiana.

Northwest Indiana’s future depends on inspiration and innovation from leading-edge researchers and determined community members collaborating on the evolving issues that face us. As the premier metropolitan university leading transformational change in the region, PNW is pleased to support the continued growth of the Society of Innovators and its role in advancing that mission.

PNW Chancellor Chris Holford

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History & Milestones

The Northwest Indiana Society of Innovators was founded in 2005 from the vision of John Davies, founding Executive Director, as a program of Ivy Tech Community College. Davies started the Society “to celebrate Northwest Indiana and discover great things about this place.” Since its founding, the major activity of the Society has been to identify, recognize and celebrate innovation and innovators in Northwest Indiana.

In the years that followed, the Society was an eye-opener for many people. The organization was the first to say that innovation exists in Northwest Indiana and sparked the community to become more aware and prouder of the innovation that occurred throughout the region.

A unique feature of the Society was recognition of innovation wherever it occurred: in the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors, in large and small organizations, in public and private settings, by individuals and teams, and within established and early-stage enterprises.

In 2018, Innovators Northwest Indiana LLC incorporated as a not-for-profit with IRS 501(c)(3) status, adopted bylaws, formed a board and completed a collaboration agreement with Purdue University Northwest (PNW). The group became an affiliated organization with the university as the Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest.

The Society’s board of directors implemented a new strategic plan in 2019 to create a robust pathway forward. Using the Northwest Indiana Forum’s Ignite the Region plan as one of the benchmarks for implementation, the Society positioned itself for success by supporting robust regional economic development and ensuring that it enhances, champions and drives a culture of innovation in Northwest Indiana.

In 2022, the Society was awarded a $500,000 Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) grant by the Northwest Indiana Forum and Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) to lead the development of a Youth Entrepreneurship Ecosystem in Northwest Indiana.

The Society of Innovators is currently housed at PNW’s Commercialization and Manufacturing Excellence Center (CMEC) under the Office of Commercialization and Research.

What is Innovation?

The Society of Innovators defines innovation as thinking creatively and developing ideas that provide solutions, add value and are implemented as new or different products, processes, services and social initiatives.

Put simply: Innovation is a new solution delivering value to the community.

Types of Innovation?

Innovation comes in many different shapes and forms, but there are 4 types of innovation that the Society had adopted:

  • Incremental Innovation is the continuous improvement of existing products or services to provide more value to an existing market.
  • Architectural Innovation is the modification of existing solutions for an entirely new market.
  • Disruptive (or Breakthrough) Innovation is when new technologies and products are created to serve an existing market.
  • Transformative (or Radical) Innovation is when an organization shifts an entire system by applying new technology to a new market.

Why Innovation?

Why is innovation important to Northwest Indiana? In a changing global economy, innovation is more important than ever. Thinking “outside the box” is critical in every sector. In Northwest Indiana, we have made progress, but we need improvements in education and government, business and industry, and in our non-profit and community organizations. We also need to encourage new and different industry, and innovative thinking in every sector at all levels.

By celebrating innovators and innovation, the Society brings attention to the ingenuity that exists across all sectors in our region. We also encourage leaders to rethink their commitment to innovation and foster more and better problem-solving at all levels. We further build pride in our region by showcasing innovators from Jasper, Lake, La Porte, Newton, Porter, Pulaski, and Starke counties.

Who is an Innovator?

Since 2005, the Society has celebrated the spirit of creativity and ingenuity by discovering, honoring and celebrating innovators from across the seven-county region of Northwest Indiana. The Society of Innovators believes that anyone can be an innovator and that innovation can come from anywhere. The Society’s annual Innovators Awards are open to:

  • All disciplines, industries and backgrounds
  • All innovators, regardless of age, gender or race
  • Individual innovators
  • Innovation teams

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Jason Williams

Jason Williams

CEO, Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest

(219) 989-2136