The Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest aims to contribute to economic and community development throughout the region as the champion of innovation in Northwest Indiana.
The Northwest Indiana Society of Innovators was founded in 2004 from the vision of John Davies, founding Executive Director, as a program of Ivy Tech Community College. The major activity of the society was to identify, recognize and celebrate innovation and innovators in Northwest Indiana.
The society sparked the community to become more aware of and proud 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.
The Society of Innovators (SOI) transitioned in 2018 to become an affiliated organization with Purdue Northwest. Since then, the society has been 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 recognizes the significant opportunity to build upon the connecting legacies of leadership and innovation represented by these two long-standing, successful regional organizations
Sheila Brillson Matias, who serves as executive director of both the Leadership Institute at Purdue Northwest (formerly the South Shore Leadership Center) and the Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest, is excited to develop opportunities for intellectual and business partnerships, new leadership development programs and ways to support and augment PNW’s research and economic development efforts.
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.
A Robust Future
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 aims to be positioned for success by supporting robust regional economic development and ensuring that it enhances, champions and drives a culture of innovation in Northwest Indiana.