The Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest invites nominations for 2021 Awards

July 26, 2021

Dwane Waler speaking at SOI

Dwayne Walker, co-founder and owner of Chicagoland Popcorn and a past inductee into the Society of Innovators, speaks during the 2019 induction ceremony for the Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest. Applications are now open for nominations for the 2021 Innovators Awards.

The Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest has opened nominations for the 2021 Innovators Awards. In addition to inducting Individual and Team Honorees into the Society, three unique awards will be considered: Richard C. Sussman Prize for Team Innovation, Society of Innovators Fellows, and the John H. Davies Lifetime Achievement Award.

“The last 18 months have been a time of mass disruption. One silver lining during this period has been the realization that innovation can occur anywhere and across all sectors. We have seen creative problem-solving in every facet of life which illustrates that disruption can create the opportunity to rethink, recreate, and harness the energy of innovative thinking. The best leaders see opportunity and take action to help their organizations succeed,” said Sheila Matias, executive director of the Society. “Despite the ongoing challenges around us, there is no better time to embrace innovation and recognize those visionary individuals and teams that have guided Northwest Indiana through this historic period of uncertainty.”

Now in its 17th year, the Society of Innovators celebrates the spirit of creativity and ingenuity by discovering, honoring and celebrating innovators from across the seven-county region of Northwest Indiana. Dedicated to the idea that anyone can be an innovator, the Society recognizes that innovation is the key to 21st century competitiveness.

Individuals and teams are nominated via an online application. Inductees are selected through a rigorous process by regional leaders who form a selection committee selected by the board of directors of the Society based upon criteria established by the board.

“Northwest Indiana was built on the legacy of daring entrepreneurs over the decades. Identifying and celebrating today’s entrepreneurs and creative leaders is one way the Society plays a pivotal role in our region,” said Don Babcock, director of Economic Development and Community Relations at Purdue Northwest and board vice-chair of the Society of Innovators. “Thanks to them, there is growing recognition that the spirit of innovation is still alive and well here, inspiring us all to greater heights.”

Applications for the 2021 Innovators Awards will be accepted through Friday, September 10 and are open to all innovators, regardless of discipline, industry or background. More information can be found online at pnw.edu/innovators-awards or by reaching out to Jason Williams at jawilliams@pnw.edu.

Individual Honorees

The Society recognizes exemplary individuals who have made it through the selection process as Inductees into the Society of Innovators. Anyone who lives or works in Northwest Indiana is eligible for consideration.

Team Honorees

The Society recognizes exemplary teams and individual team members who have made it through the selection process as Inductees into the Society of Innovators. Teams from an individual company, government unit, not-for-profit agency, or a group of organizations from a specific project are eligible for consideration.

Society of Innovators Fellows

The Society of Innovators may select up to five innovators each year as Fellows from among previously inducted Individual and Team Lead honorees. Fellows must live or work in Northwest Indiana and demonstrate significant achievement in innovation and contribution to our community.

Richard C. Sussman Prize for Team Innovation

One team may be selected annually from among Team Inductees to receive the Richard C. Sussman Prize for Team Innovation. The Sussman Prize is dedicated to promoting 21st century innovation in the private, public, not-for-profit and government sectors.

The award was created to honor the late Richard C. Sussman, former chairman for the Society of Innovators and head of Research and Development at ArcelorMittal. Known as a prolific team builder and innovator, Sussman is credited for pushing creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship as critical elements to remain competitive. This award builds on his legacy for a stronger Northwest Indiana.

John H. Davies Lifetime Achievement Award

A Lifetime Achievement Award winner may be selected upon recommendation of the selection committee and at the discretion of the board of directors. Not only must the Lifetime Achievement Award winner demonstrate significant innovation, but that the work was sustained over a significant amount of time and their success was not limited to just one role, company or sector. This award is the Society’s highest honor for an individual leader whose work took place in or significantly impacted the Northwest Indiana region.

The award was renamed to honor John H. Davies who was recognized as the Society’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award recipient in 2019. As the founder and retired managing director of the Society of Innovators, he successfully led the organization from its inception in 2005 until 2018. Davies also was instrumental in relaunching the South Shore poster series in the late 1990s and worked with the South Shore Convention & Visitors Authority (SSCVA) to create the Wall of Legends in 2004. A self-proclaimed champion for Northwest Indiana, Davies is one of the first to say that innovation exists in the region. He has been responsible for driving a local culture of innovation here.


The Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest

The Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest (PNW) aims to contribute to economic and community development throughout the region as the champion of innovation in Northwest Indiana. For more information about the Society of Innovators, visit www.pnw.edu/soi.