Society of Innovators welcomes 2023 inductees • Northwest Indiana Business Magazine
The Society of Innovators luncheon 2023.

Society of Innovators welcomes 2023 inductees

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The Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest celebrated five ideas that turned into so much more during its 19th annual luncheon.

The Society of Innovators wings.
Society of Innovators inductees earn their wings.

Business leaders, economic experts, and former and current inductees gathered Oct. 19 at PNW's Westville campus to honor the five innovations.

Jason Williams, assistant director of the Society of Innovators, led the event by saying that innovation is “all about collaboration and networking.”

The innovations celebrated include:

  • A device to keep owners from losing their smartphones
  • A mobile counseling center for students preparing for college
  • An additive that makes batteries last longer
  • Powder paint for surface coating
  • Ignite the Region, an initiative that has led to economic development throughout the Region.

Those who developed these innovations earned their “wings.” They include:

Individual Inductee

  • Alejandra Alaniz, Valparaiso — Owner, Tracktable Lifestyle

Team Inductees

  • Coates Inc., Merrillville — Team members: Catisha Toney, Lolita Wilson
  • Hammond Group, Hammond — Team members: Thomas Wojcinski, Gordon Beckley, Richard Botts, Gary Dean Botts II, Enqin Gao, Perry Hedge, Perry Dewayne Hedge II, Daniel Loosemore, Terry Murphy, Pete Nikoloski, Andrew Reynolds and James Shearouse
  • PowderCoil Technologies, Crown Point — Team members: Robert McShane, Maggie Beauchamp, Alexander Duchak, Janice Hickey, Parakh Kantawala, Jeremy Murray and Steve Murray

Advocate for Innovation Inductee

  • Northwest Indiana Forum, Portage — Team members: Heather Ennis, Don Babcock, Erika Dombey, Brian Hittinger, Kay Nelson, Pete Novak, Tony Oss and Raeann Trakas

Gary Johnson, chairman of the board for the Society, reiterated that the event is the fulfillment of the Society's mission.

“The purpose (of the Society) is to expand economic development in Northwest Indiana … our constant since our founding,” he said.

Cindy Admave, an economic development project analyst from NIPSCO, said its partnership with the Society is important for developing the “next generation of innovators.”

Niaz Latif, associate chancellor for commercialization and research, and the executive director of the Society, acknowledged the importance of youth entrepreneurship and the impact the Society has on the spirit of innovation in the Region.

“Today's event is the highlight of the Society of Innovators,” he said.

Babcock, who is the director of economic development and community relations at PNW, was on the team inducted from the NWI Forum. He said the Ignite project's goal is to “amplify success regionally.” He also said a “growing acceptance” is building about the opportunities facing the Region.

“Without passion, nothing better happens,” he said in a video presentation about the Forum's contribution to the Ignite the Region initiative.

He noted the importance of keeping “people at the table.”

Williams also highlighted the Society's 2023 accomplishments, including the Innovate WithIN program and the Northwest Indiana Women's Leadership and Innovation summit.

Johnson announced a five-year extension of the Society's memorandum of understanding with PNW. The organization has been affiliated with PNW since 2018.

The now nonprofit was founded in 2004 through the vision of John Davies, its founding executive director, as a program of Ivy Tech Community College.

Caption: The Society of Innovators inducted individual and team members who developed five separate ideas during its 19th luncheon Oct. 19 at Purdue University Northwest's Westville campus. (Photo by Heather Pfundstein)

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