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UIS * iSPI * SIU Illinois Capital Innovation Awards

Award winners and photos from the event.

The University of Illinois Springfield, Innovate Springfield and the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine honored eleven central Illinois individuals and organizations with “Innovator of the Year” awards during the inaugural Illinois Capital Innovation Competition on April 6, 2018, at the UIS Student Union.

More than 100 individual applicants applied for award consideration. The goals of the awards were to identify, celebrate and engage area innovators in the Sangamon County area and bring them together to collaborate with leaders from industry, social impact organizations and government.

Innovate Springfield members, Megan Luckey and Khara Koffel of Jacksonville, founders of Serious Products, received the “Innovator of the Year” award in the startup category. The two are the inventors of Serious Lip Balm, a company that hand makes all-natural lip balm out of beeswax, sweet almond oil, shea butter, lanolin and scented lip balm oil.

In the business solutions category, Innovate Springfield member Barnabus Helmy of Springfield, creator of The Puck at SmashToast, was honored with an “Innovator of the Year” award. The Puck is a small device which allows smartphone control of any TV, speaker or other machine which accepts an infrared signal. One Puck can control multiple devices, allowing users to “toss the remote.”

The roots category honored innovation that has been applied outside of the area by an innovator who has roots in central Illinois. Andrew Arenz, Innovate Springfield member and founder of Spare Accessories, who grew up in Auburn, Illinois, won the “Innovator of the Year” award in this category. Arenz invented the patent-pending Reel Rack, the only spare tire cover that holds fishing poles securely on your spare tire.

The “Innovator of the Year” award for UIS research was presented to Yanhui Guo, UIS assistant professor of computer science, for his work in computer-aided microcalsifications (MC) in the detection of breast cancer using DCNN classifiers. An award was also presented to UIS student Miranda Mogle, a business administration major from Chatham, who started Good News Now. Good News Now is a news content aggregator that screens out unpleasant news stories providing consumers with only positive news, which studies show leads to overall greater emotional happiness for children and adults.

The “Innovator of the Year” honor in the government solutions category was awarded to the Illinois Department of Innovation & Technology’s Blockchain Initiative, which is made up of a consortium of Illinois state and county agencies. Blockchain and distributed ledger technology has the potential to transform the delivery of public and private services. It has the potential to redefine the relationship between government and the citizen in terms of data sharing, transparency and trust and make a leading contribution to the State’s digital transformation.

The award in the community solutions category was given to the Community Health and Support Team at the SIU Center for Family Medicine for the CHIS intensive care coordination outreach model. Award-winners include Tracey Smith, DNP, Dr. Nichole Mirocha, Dr. Janice Frueh and Meghan Golden. CHIS programs provide crisis intervention, brief treatment and connection to longer term community and primary health care. The CHIS multi-pronged approach is a proactive and comprehensive program currently providing immediate health care linkage to stabilize participants through a variety of evidence-based programs.

In the health care application category, the “Innovator of the Year” honor went to Dr. Gregory Mishkel and Amy Durako with the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery Program (ERAS) at Prairie Cardiovascular. As part of the ERAS program, patients can connect with their doctors through the Seamless MD app. The app is provided at no cost to patients and has resulted in a decrease length of stay for open heart surgery patients, has increased compliance with cardiac rehab and decreased use of opioids for pain management in patients utilizing the app.

Drs. Ashim Gupta and Michael Neumeister with the SIU School of Medicine and Dr. Sohyung Cho with Southern Illinois University Edwardsville were honored with the “Innovator of the Year” award for medical device. They invented a syringe system for fluid separation during surgery that helps reduce the time a patient is under anesthesia, as well as the time the surgeons and anesthesiologist are in the operating room. SIU School of Medicine physicians were also honored with the “Innovator of the Year” award in the medical research category. Drs. Andrew Wilber and Christopher Chambers along with Jeffrey Miller developed a hemoglobin gene therapy to treat Sickle Cell Anemia and Beta-thalassemia. Each year, 300,000 – 500,000 babies are born with one of these disorders.

An honorary “Innovator of the Year” award was presented to Zack Kerker, Derek Parris, Jared Phillips, Kevin O'Dea, Andrew Harby, Beth Neuhoff, Michael Hulvey and Danielle Outlaw with Neuhoff Media in Springfield for their digital, on-demand, personalized delivery of sports information in Sangamon County.

The awards competition was open to researchers, inventors, entrepreneurs, startups, existing businesses, institutions, social entrepreneurs, non-profits and other individuals who currently live in and around Sangamon County, who have lived here at some point in their lives, or are willing to relocate here.

Finalists and Winners by Catagory:

UIS Faculty Research Innovator of the Year

Winner - Dr. Yanhui Guo, Assistant Professor of Data Analytics, UIS

Finalists - Dr. Elham Sahebkar Khorasani (Buxton); Dr. Sameer Vorha; Dr. Yanhui Guo

UIS Student Innovator of the Year

Winner - Miranda Mogle, Good News Now

Finalists - Veronica Tellez, Mother Bear; Abriana Robinson, RAW Photography;

Startup Innovator of the Year

Winner - Khara Koffel and Megan Luckey, Serious Lip Balm

Finalists - Kirk Kellus, Union Buddy; Nabih Elhajj, Lead Robotix; Shaun Tonstad, Clarion Consulting

Business Solution Innovator of the Year

Winner - Barnabas Helmy, The Puck

Finalists - Jeffrey Sommers, Square Root Architecture; Brian Frieze, Sangamon Reclaimed

Honorary Business Solution Innovator of the Year

Zach Kerker,

Roots Innovator of the Year

Andrew Arenz, Spare Accessories

Government Solution Innovator of the Year

Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology, Illinois Blockchain Initiative

Community Solution Innovator of the Year

Winner - Community Health Intervention and Support Team (CHIST)

Finalists - Continuum of Learning and SIU School of Medicine - Department of Family and Community Medicine, Nurse Family Partnership; Rasha Said, Sensible Innovations

Healthcare Application Innovator of the Year

Winner - Dr. Gregory Mishkel and Amy Durako, Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS)

Healthcare Medical Device Innovator of the Year

Winner - Dr. Ashim Gupta, Dr. Michael Neumeister, Dr. Sohyung Cho, Syringe System for Fluid Separation

Finalists - Dr. Traves Crabtree and Tim York, PhD, Video Assisted ThoracoscopicSurgery (VATS)

Healthcare Medical Research Innovator of the Year

Winner - Dr. Andrew Wilber, Dr. Christopher Chambers, Dr. Jeffrey Miller, Dr. Sohyung Cho, Novel Hemoglobin Gene Therapy to treat Sickle Cell Anemia and Beta-thalassemia

Finalists - Dr. Brian Hearring and Dr. Kevin Rowland, Natural Cavity Prevention Product; Debashree Mukherjea, PhD, Vickram Ramkumar, PhD, Leonard Rybak, MD, PhD, Novel Hearing Loss Drug

All images are the property of Innovate Springfield. You are welcome to use them, but please be kind and give us a shout out if you do!

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