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Now in its 11th year, the Chicago Innovation Awards celebrates the region’s most innovative new products and services brought to market or to public service.

2012 Chicago Innovation Awards

Faster, cleaner, safer, healthier

Kellogg, Northwestern teams shine at 2012 Chicago Innovation Awards


10/26/2012 - Six organizations with roots at Northwestern University were honored Monday at the 2012 Chicago Innovation Awards at Chicago’s Harris Theater.

The innovations recognized include an innovative currency and check scanner, a new HIV test for infants in developing countries, high-performance materials that store gases, and a safety tool that prevents bleeding during surgery.

The Chicago Innovation Awards each year recognizes the most innovative new products or services brought to market or to public service in the Chicago region.

One of this year’s award recipients was Cummins Allison, which was recognized for a new currency and check scanner that can image and process both cash and checks. The scanner has important implications for financial institutions, retailers and casinos, Cummins Allison is led by a Kellogg alum, Chairman and CEO William Jones ’81.

Another winner was BrightTag, a Chicago-based company that gives organizations many different ways to organize and promote their online presence. The founder and CEO of BrightTag is Mike Sands ’96.

Medline, a healthcare supply company that manufactures and distributes lifesaving equipment to more than 450 hospitals and clinics around the world, also took home a top honor. The president of Medline is Andy Mills ’85, an alumnus profiled in the current issue of Kellogg World magazine.

Three innovations from Northwestern with strong ties to Kellogg received “Up and Comer” awards:

The Northwestern Global Health Foundation was recognized for its new HIV test for babies in developing countries that will deliver a diagnosis in less than an hour. The test could dramatically improve the rates at which infected infants are diagnosed and treated.

Established in 2010, the foundation is an independent nonprofit biotech company that develops and distributes medical diagnostics for global health applications, based on technologies developed at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. Its founding members include Daniel Diermeier, Kellogg’s IBM Professor of Regulation and Competitive Practice and director of Kellogg’s Ford Motor Company Center for Global Citizenship; Kara Palamountain ’04, the executive director of the Global Health Initiative at Kellogg; and David Kelso, a clinical professor of biomedical engineering at McCormick. 

NuMat Technologies was recognized for software that makes gas storage more efficient by analyzing and quickly suggesting ideal metal-organic-framework structures for custom storage applications. These structures have the potential to transform products such as natural gas vehicles. The product of two Northwestern research labs, the NuMat team represents four Northwestern schools: Kellogg, McCormick, Northwestern Law, and the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

BriteSeed was recognized for SafeSnips, technology that can be integrated into surgical tools to detect blood vessels during surgery and prevent unintended bleeding. SafeSnips can alert the surgeon to the vessel’s diameter and orientation, and reveal how fast blood is flowing through the vessel, all in real time. BriteSeed is a medical technology startup led by a Northwestern team that includes Kellogg students.