MERRILLVILLE │ Another year of discovering the most creative thinkers and innovators of Northwest Indiana begins Friday.
The ninth annual call for nominations for the Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana at Ivy Tech Community College Northwest was announced Thursday at the Purdue Technology Center.
Nominations for individual and team innovators begin Friday, dubbed I-Day, and will run through July 5. The five-month process concludes with an induction ceremony Oct. 17 at Horseshoe Casino.
“Northwest Indiana will be known around the world as a region that discovers and encourages, celebrates and honors, creativity and innovation,” said John Davies, the Society's managing director. “Innovation can come from many sources, but most commonly innovation is fixing a problem, coming up with a solution, meeting a need in a new and fresh way. It’s what Northwest Indiana has been doing since we were carved out of the wilderness long after the rest of the state was settled.”
O'Merrial Butchee, director of the Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center at the Ivy Tech Gary campus, said the range of innovation from individuals to teams includes entrepreneurs working in a garage, basement or kitchen to some of the largest corporations in the region.
“What we discover is that innovation in Northwest Indiana is big, is small and it’s everything in between,” she said.
Davies said the Society wants to encourage not only nominations from the traditional counties of Lake, Porter and LaPorte, but also Jasper, Newton, Pulaski and Starke counties.
In total, 10 chambers of commerce have agreed to make nominations to the society, including the Greater Renesselaer Chamber of Commerce, whose director, Linda Comingore, spoke during the Thursday’s announcement.
Guest speakers also included Harold Puckett, of the Gary Chamber of Commerce and Richard Marrell, founder of RLM Prosthetics, of Valparaiso. Marrell also is vice-chairman of the society.
Eric Johnson, dean of the college of engineering at Valparaiso University, spoke about James S. Markiewicz Solar Energy Research Facility on campus, which will be in operation in about a month. The first of any private university in the United States, the facility will be used to perform research in how to convert solar energy to hydrogen and solar fuels.
Nominations of individuals or teams to the society can be made beginning Friday online at www.ivytech.edu/northwest. Nominations close at 5 p.m. July 5.