MIT Enterprise Forum of Chicago Announces 'Below the Radar' Innovation Recognition Program

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Program Will Recognize Overlooked Innovation in Chicago Area Businesses, Business Models, Products/Services, Design and Technologies

The MIT Enterprise Forum of Chicago (MITEFC) announced today the official launch of its “Below the Radar” awards program created to recognize innovation in the Chicago business community. The first five quarterly finalists for the annual awards program will be announced by MITEFC on January 10, 2006 at the offices of Gardner Carton & Douglas, LLP prior to the start of its 6th Annual MIT Enterprise Forum Innovation and Technology Forecast.

The Below the Radar Program will recognize particularly innovative Chicago-area companies, business models, products, services or technologies distinguished by their potential to shift markets and which have been largely overlooked by the public. Nominations for the 1st quarter awards must be received by 5:00pm December 30, 2005.

Nominations will be accepted in five categories:

  • Business Model Innovation – companies that have implemented innovative changes in their business models which have significantly enhanced their business performance
  • Innovation Management – companies that have implemented significant changes in how they manage innovation, resulting in significant improvements in their competitive positioning
  • Technology Innovation – novel technology that has the potential of radically changing how users of that technology conduct their businesses or serve their customers
  • Product/Services Innovation – products or services that represent radical improvements or entirely new applications for existing products or services
  • Design Innovation – dramatic rethinking of an existing or new product type that shifts the basis for competition in the market for that product

A panel of judges will evaluate nominees on five metrics of innovation:

1. Overall creativity

2. How compelling the innovation is

3. Impact on customer experience

4. Potential to shift market dynamics

5. How great of a “leap forward” it represents

Nominations may be submitted through the MIT Enterprise Forum of Chicago website ( or via email (

Each quarter, judges will select five finalists from across all categories. These finalists will be announced and profiled by MITEFC on their website, in their newsletter and through various PR announcements. Five annual winners will be selected from these 20 finalists and announced at an awards banquet to be held each Spring starting in 2007.

Peter Balbus, president of the MIT Enterprise Forum of Chicago stated, “It’s truly amazing how much real innovation we have occurring in Chicago in companies of all sizes that almost no one seems to know about. We intend to do our part to identify and recognize these largely unknown innovation leaders, whose visionary accomplishments provide us with a glimpse of the future.”

About the MIT Enterprise Forum

The MIT Enterprise Forum is a non-profit professional organization that promotes world-class innovation and entrepreneurship in Chicago through its executive education programs, workshops and events. The Forum offers provocative new ideas, business cases and professional networking opportunities to business leaders while showcasing MIT's contributions to innovation and entrepreneurship in communities around the world.

The mission of the Forum is to serve as a focal point for business leaders to learn, exchange views, and accelerate their ability to manage innovation. Established in 1988, the Chicago chapter is part of a network of 25 chapters worldwide. Participation and membership is open to the general public; no prior affiliation with MIT is required.


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Peter Balbus
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