Innovating… Chicago-Style

Discover how innovation is moving Chicago forward.

The Chicago region is home to a breadth of innovation that cuts across industries, whether it be high-tech, low-tech, no-tech, big company, little company, for-profit or not-for-profit. In Innovating Chicago-Style, readers will explore the most innovative new products and services that have given rise from the Chicago region over the past decade – a period marked by explosive growth and change.

Every innovation showcased in this book has won the coveted Chicago Innovation Award, thereby cementing its status as a symbol of the creative spirit of the Chicago region.

We’ll see how top scientists at Chicago healthcare giant Abbott Laboratories transformed the world of HIV/AIDS testing. We’ll meet Andrew Mason, founder of internet sensation Groupon, and discover how he forever changed the e-commerce landscape and turned Groupon into the fastest growing company ever. We’ll get to know a 4th generation plumber who is saving the world’s supply of water, one toilet bowl at a time. And we’ll meet Matthew Younkle, inventor of the Turbo Tap, and find out how he dispenses beer to thirsty crowds 4 times faster than ever before. The ground-breaking and thought-provoking innovations go on and on.

In this series of descriptive accounts, we’ll discover why each innovation was selected as a winner of the Chicago Innovation Awards. Each detailed profile will highlight the all-important consumer need or want that is being addressed. We’ll identify the uniqueness of the innovation and uncover its break-through moment. By talking with the founders and originators of each innovation, we’ll learn the fascinating stories of how the idea even came to be. And lastly, but perhaps most importantly, we’ll reveal the extent of the innovation’s impact on society – whether it be financial or otherwise. This is how we mark the difference between invention and innovation. Innovations bring profound market impact and change our world.

Innovating Chicago-Style will beam with Midwest pride. Pride for what our region has accomplished and pride for what has yet to come. The companies and innovations profiled in this book will serve as a model for other cities to reveal their own innovation heroes and success stories.

Flip through the pages of Innovating Chicago-Style, and you’ll see that Chicago is well on its way to becoming the innovation hub of America. By celebrating those at the heart of the fastest growing and most vibrant sector of our region’s economy, we see that these innovators are the ones bringing economic growth and job creation to our region.

About the Chicago Innovation Awards

Established in 2002, the Chicago Innovation Awards shine a bright light on the creative spirit of Chicago by focusing attention on the most significant new products and services introduced in the region. The ten winners each year are innovations that uniquely fill unmet needs, spark a competitive response in the marketplace, exceed market expectations, achieve financial success, and improve people’s lives. They emerge from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Most importantly, the Chicago Innovation Awards remind us that innovation is thriving in America’s heartland.

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"From rebuilding an entire city after a fire to reversing the flow of a river to inventing the skyscraper, the innovation gene has always been part of Chicago’s DNA. Innovating…Chicago-Stylerecognizes the modern players in the city’s long line of innovators who are making a difference in the local, national, and global economies." Rick Strezo, Partner, Kuczmarski & Associates
"Innovation isn’t about discarding the past. It’s about embracing the fundamentals and values that got us here and using them to think differently especially in tough economic times." W. Rockwell Wirtz, President, Wirtz Corporation and Chairman and Owner, Chicago Blackhawks
"Chicago is an incredibly diverse city and its diversity extends even to industry. This diversity of industry, unique to Chicago, allows Chicago innovators to see problems that others may miss and to generate the corresponding solutions. The incredible breadth of innovations and innovators profiled in ‘Innovating Chicago Style’ is proof that Chicago’s diversity puts the city in a unique position for future growth and prosperity." Eric Olson, Co-Founder TECH Cocktail
"Chicago has throughout its history been a world leader in innovation, from its beginnings in transportation and heavy industry to its current role as a leader in data, ideas, and the effective use of technology. For nearly two centuries, Chicagoans have attacked questions and problems with creativity and insight, building (and rebuilding) a remarkable city that continues to grow and improve." John Tolva, Chief Technology Officer, City of Chicago