What’s the Big Idea?
Utah Innovation Awards Celebrate Up-and-coming Work
Competition breeds innovation, or so the saying goes. The Utah Innovation Awards makes that premise a reality by highlighting cutting-edge work in Utah. For the last 16 years, the annual event hosted by full-service business law firm Stoel Rives and the Utah Technology Council has singled out a pack of Beehive State companies for their bright ideas.
This year, more than 120 companies were nominated and whittled down to nine winners recognized at an awards program at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center in April.
Companies don’t have to be well-established to apply — even ideas in the early stages of development can snag a Utah Innovation Award. After all, an award may be just the boost a fledging business needs to find investors or keep pushing forward, says Kelsey Koziar, program manager at Stoel Rives.
“It’s a way for us to recognize all levels of innovation, whether that’s someone working out of their garage or a Fortune 500 company,” Koziar says. “There are so many interesting things coming out of Utah; it is such a tech hub now and growing like crazy. We see so many companies starting here or coming here to grow their companies.”
Nominations are reviewed by selection committees made up of more than 80 industry experts in nine categories: Clean Technology and Energy; Computer Hardware/Electrical Devices; Consumer Software; Enterprise Software; Cloud and Big Data; Life Science – Biotech; Life Science – Medical Device; Mechanical Systems/Chemicals/Manufacturing; Outdoor and Consumer Products; and Community. An Early Stage Innovation award was also added to a few categories this year.
“Some of the nominations we get are still so much in the idea phase,” Koziar says. “It’s so hard to compare them, and we didn’t want the ideas that are incredibly innovative to not get noticed.”
Each selection committee makes recommendations for finalists and honorable mentions, but members across all committees vote on the ultimate winners. Selection committee votes are tallied by accounting firm Grant Thornton, an event sponsor. Other sponsors include Webb Audio Visual Communication, STEM Utah, USTAR, Xact Data Discovery, The Leonardo Museum, Zions Bank, BioUtah and BoomStartup.
“Sometimes the votes are the same as the committee recommendations, and sometimes they aren’t,” Koziar says.
A showcase prior to the awards dinner gives each winner time to show off what they’ve created and network with potential collaborators or investors. The award winners also participate in the Innovation Showcase exhibit on the third floor of The Leonardo in Salt Lake City.
In addition to the Utah Innovation Awards, Stoel Rives operates similar programs in Boise, Idaho; Seattle, Washington; and Sacramento, California.
2018 Utah Innovation Awards Winners
Winner: EDX by EDX Magnetics
Computer Hardware and Electrical Device
Winner: Guardian GT by Sarcos Robotics
Winner: Cake browser by Cake Technologies Inc.
Early Stage Innovation: We Are Friends by Teaching It Right
Winner: IoT Transparency Platform by RoviTracker Inc.
Life Science — Biotech
Winner: ProLung Test by ProLung Inc.
Early Stage Innovation: TP-0184, a candidate for the treatment of pediatric brain cancer by Tolero Pharmaceuticals
Life Science — Medical Device
Winner: Cartesse by Rosivo
Early Stage Innovation: SondeFlux by RefloDX LLC
Mechanical, Chemical, Manufacturing
Winner: A new technology for making low-cost spherical Ti alloy powder for additive manufacturing (3D-printing) by Blacksand Technology LLC
Early Stage Innovation: Clean Ammonia by University of Utah
Outdoor and Consumer Products
Winner: All-In-One Sensor by Novi Security
Winner: United Way of Salt Lake