That’s the collective attitude of this year’s 10 Chicago Innovation Awards winners. The theme of the 9th annual Chicago Innovation Awards ceremony, which took place Oct. 20, was “Innovation and Collaboration,” but it soon became clear that the night’s focus was on one message: “Innovation can’t wait, even when money is tight.”
That message rang loud and clear, with speakers Mayor Richard Daley and Leo Melamed – former chair of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the man responsible for launching futures trading – fervently and eloquently reinforcing it. And if you think bringing innovation to your own company is a challenge, take some inspiration from Melamed, who recounted a 10-year, uphill battle to bring technological innovation to the Merc in the form of computerized trading. As Melamed’s struggles demonstrate, innovation is never easy, yet is always necessary.
We believe innovation is the key to survival, regardless of your company’s industry, size, location or history. Chicago Innovation award winners, for example, range from a 100-year-old manufacturing company to a five-month-old technology startup that relies on the burgeoning popularity of mobile devices.
This is my third year attending the awards, and it’s always inspiring to hear about and celebrate the intelligent, driven and fearless people who continue to innovate in the face of even the steepest challenges. And for those of you who think the term “innovation” is nothing more than jargon used in corporate boardrooms, I encourage you to check out the profiles of the winners here – I suspect even the staunchest skeptics will be inspired. Another testament to the importance of innovation is the continued success of past CIA winners, even amid economic turbulence.
Thanks to sponsors such as Wrigley, McGuire Woods, IBM and dozens more, this event is free and open to the public, so I also encourage you to register for next year’s show (registration for next year’s show will be available online at www.chicagoinnovationawards.com late next year).