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Brian Larsen: Celebrating 10 years of Idaho innovators

This fall, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Idaho Innovation Awards. This year’s finalists and winners will be showcased at the Idaho Technology Council Hall of Fame on Oct. 21 at Boise Centre.

The Idaho Innovation Awards began in 2006 as a small luncheon program, hosted by Stoel Rives, a business law firm, and became a collaboration with the Idaho Technology Council. The 2014 event drew more than 900 attendees from across Idaho.

Many states, including Utah, have adopted similar recognition programs to honor their innovators. Here in Idaho, the program focuses on four categories: Commercialized Innovation of the Year, Early-Stage Innovation of the Year, Innovative Company of the Year and Innovator of the Year. Nominations are made by industry members. Applications are submitted online and are evaluated by a committee and narrowed to three finalists per field. One winner is chosen among the finalists.

Throughout the past decade, nominees have included well-known and lesser-known companies and individuals. Last year, Keynetics Inc. CEO Brad Wiskirchen was named Innovator of the Year. Keynetics’ spinoff company Kount was named Innovative Company of the Year in 2013. ClearWater Analytics was Innovative Company of the Year in 2012; Boise State University, University of Idaho and Idaho State University won the Early-Stage Innovation Award in 2012, 2011 and 2009 respectively.

Most notable about the Idaho Innovation Awards is the success of its nominees and recipients. CradlePoint, a Boise-headquartered networking solutions provider founded in 2006, was first nominated for the Commercialized Innovation of the Year in 2009 for its MBR1000 3G/4G Mobile Broadband Router. CradlePoint’s Enterprise Cloud Manager was named the Commercialized Innovation of the Year in 2013. CradlePoint has since become an internationally recognized company, having shipped more than one million wireless routers and cloud application devices worldwide.

Idaho National Laboratory is the leading center in the nation for research and development of nuclear energy and is an integral component of the U.S. Department of Energy. INL is the first site in America to power a community with nuclear-generated electricity. INL has submitted entries every year of the Idaho Innovation Awards, most recently receiving the Early Stage Innovation of the Year award for its Advanced Electrolyte Model, or AEM.

It is exciting to look back on the past 10 years of Idaho’s innovations, but even more exciting is to see what the future holds and to envision where we will be in another 10 years.

For information about the awards program, go to idahotechcouncil.org. Tickets start at $75. To purchase tickets, contact Nate Bastian at nbastian@idahotechcouncil.org.

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