MIT Enterprise Forum Announces 1st Quarter Finalists for Annual 'Below the Radar' Innovation Recognition Program

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Recognition program showcases companies, individuals, schools and other organizations that have demonstrated outstanding achievements in innovation

The Chicago chapter of the MIT Enterprise Forum announced the 1st quarter finalists for its 2006-2007 “Below the Radar” innovation recognition program. At last night’s 6th annual "Innovation & Technology Forecast 2006-2010", the Forum announced honors for Arryx, Inc., Clarity Communication Systems, Inc., Escape, NanoInk, Inc. and the University of Illinois.

“In selecting these outstanding examples of innovation as finalists in our program, we are also articulating our definition of innovation and the multiple domains in which we recognize it,” stated Peter Balbus, president of the organization. “We strongly believe in the power of innovation to create opportunities for new kinds of partnerships and business models across traditionally disconnected business segments. By raising awareness of the innovation occurring in Chicago, we hope to promote active discussions and profitable partnerships between those segments of our business community – and raise the general level of innovation in Chicago and Illinois.”

The Below the Radar innovation recognition Program recognizes outstanding examples of innovation in Chicago that might otherwise go unnoticed. The program focuses on innovation in multiple forms, including: business models, innovation management, technology innovation, design innovation, and product/services innovation. Each calendar quarter, the MIT Enterprise Forum will announce and publish a list of innovators -- people, companies, schools, government agencies or research labs -- whose innovations merit recognition as determined by a panel of judges. Each year, the Forum will announce the top innovators and innovations selected from the quarterly finalists at a special awards banquet to honor the winners.

The MIT Enterprise Forum “Below the Radar” 1st quarter 2006 finalists are:

  • Arryx, Inc. (Chicago) for technology innovation and product innovation – Arryx uses focused light to form optical traps that function like microscopic "tractor beams" to grab small objects. Using only laser beams, the Arryx BioRyx 200 system can independently and simultaneously manipulate hundreds of microscopic and nanoscopic objects, ranging from the size of a human cell down to less than 1/1000th the diameter of a human hair. The BioRyx 200 enables the user to sculpt the light from a single laser beam into as many as 200 independently controllable optical tweezers that can be positioned and moved in three dimensions.
  • Clarity Communication Systems, Inc. (Aurora) for technology innovation and innovation management – Clarity’s innovations enable carriers to deliver services that will open new markets and reshape the way consumers and businesses use their mobile devices. The integration of Location Based Services (LBS) with Push-to-Talk (PTT) to create Location-enabled PTT (LEPTT) adds a whole new dimension to the cellular communications experience and extends the use of PTT as a safety device. In addition to providing consumers with new ways to protect family members, LEPTT also empowers law enforcement to improve emergency services.
  • Escape (Chicago) for business model innovation - Escape has successfully introduced innovation to the retail store business model, in part by creating new revenue streams, including recurring memberships, device/equipment rentals, snacks, catering and suite rentals. As a division of Best Buy, it also represents an innovative departure for a large, “big box” retailer entering the market for high-end urban consumers with a radically different environment and retail experience compared with their traditional stand-alone stores.
  • NanoInk (Chicago) for technology innovation and innovation management -- NanoInk is being recognized for commercializing the Dipped Pen Nanolithography (DPN®) process which offers customers and partners with a rapid prototyping platform for nanomaterials discovery. Their products combine to offer powerful solutions for nanomaterials discovery through nanoscale deposition, nanofabrication and for subsequent nanoscale characterization of those materials.
  • University of Illinois (Statewide) for innovation management -- The University of Illinois is being recognized for achieving a level of innovation management in its technology transfer activities which propelled UI into the top 10 American universities for patents issued in 2004 and secured its position as second in the country for new business creation.

About the MIT Enterprise Forum

The MIT Enterprise Forum is a non-profit volunteer organization that promotes world-class innovation and entrepreneurship through its executive education programs, workshops and events. Established in 1987, the Chicago chapter is part of a network of 23 chapters worldwide. Participation and membership is open to the general public.

"Promoting business innovation in Chicago through executive education and community connections"


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