The region’s big thinkers open doors to the future.
Northwest Indiana is an excellent place to make things, as is the state as a whole, but our excellence in manufacturing sometimes overshadows our area’s brilliance when it comes to not just making but creating and innovating. The Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana, now in its 10th year, exists to shine the spotlight on this often-overlooked spirit of innovation.
Read our cover story to learn more about the James S. Markiewicz Solar Energy Research Facility, completed last year by Valparaiso University’s College of Engineering and a co-winner of the Society’s Accelerating Greatness Award along with the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority. The university’s project is a solar furnace, a research facility designed to discover new fuels and commodities that harness the power of the sun. There aren’t many such facilities anywhere in the world, and this is the only one primarily designed, built and used by undergraduate students. Think about that–not only is the facility exploring new ways to save the planet with clean energy, it’s also nurturing a spirit of innovation in the great thinkers of tomorrow.
And speaking of supporting a healthy environment, Robert Colangelo’s Green Sense Farms was honored by the Society as the largest indoor commercial vertical farm, marketing locally grown, chemical-free produce. It’s the way of the future–healthy, sustainable and potentially quite profitable, because more and more educated consumers are demanding safe and healthy food that’s free from harmful additives.
Among others, the cover story also spotlights the two winners that shared the Society’s prestigious Chanute Prize for Innovation: PCL Alverno and the BP Whiting Refinery Modernization Project. PCL Alverno introduced total microbiology automation, which revolutionizes the delivery of laboratory results to patients and physicians. BP, meanwhile, undertook the largest and most complex refining construction project in the company’s history, a multi-billion-dollar initiative that built the seventh-largest refinery around the existing fourth-largest refinery–without disrupting operations.
But the region’s innovations spotlighted in this issue go well beyond the Society’s honors. Flip through the pages of this issue and you’ll learn about innovations in the region’s hospital emergency rooms. In the financial services sector, as criminals innovate new ways to practice fraud, Northwest Indiana institutions are doing their own innovating in order to stay a few steps ahead of the bad guys. Read about it in this issue of Northwest Indiana Business Quarterly. Also read about the innovators honored as Companies to Watch, an annual program we sponsor that spotlights companies that are on impressive growth trajectories.
But even as we celebrate how Northwest Indiana innovators propel the region into the future, we also honor tradition in this issue–the tradition of holiday gift giving. Whether you’re seeking the perfect gift for a family member, significant other, boss or client, check out the great ideas in our annual Executive Gift Guide.
Enjoy our current issue and the upcoming holidays!
—Glee Renick-May, Publisher