News Room

2018 Innovation Celebration Finalists Announced

CHAMPAIGN, IL, February 23, 2018 – The Champaign County Economic Development Corporation is pleased to announce finalists for the 13th Annual Innovation Celebration in recognition of those individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions, taken risks, and provided leadership to ensure the continuing economic success of Champaign County, the ongoing success of the University’s economic development mission, and the growth of entrepreneurial talent and energy in our community.

Innovation Celebration is not merely an award for accomplishment, but a benchmark of success for those outstanding individuals, organizations and corporations who are nominated and selected to receive this prestigious award. Additionally, Innovation Celebration serves as a tangible collaboration between the Champaign County EDC, University of Illinois, Parkland College, and the community.

The winner of each award category will be announced at Innovation Celebration 2018, held at Parkland College on Thursday, March 29, 2018 from 5:30 – 8:30 pm. To RSVP and learn more about the event, visit

Award Finalists

Entrepreneurial Excellence: Social Venture Award
Serve as change agents by creating and implementing sustainable solutions to reshape society, benefit humanity, and address social concerns.

Entrepreneurial Excellence: Student Startup Award
Formed by students in the last three years and demonstrates a commitment to continuing success through entrepreneurial talent, creativity and energy.

Entrepreneurial Excellence: New Venture Award
Formed in the last three years, and demonstrates a commitment to continuing success through entrepreneurial talent, creativity and energy.

Entrepreneurial Excellence: Advocacy Award
Actively engage, encourage, coach and mentor entrepreneurs in the community, and provide extensive support to help them achieve success.

  • Ken Taylor
  • Stephanie Larson
  • Kathie Cravens

Entrepreneurial Excellence: Management Award
Demonstrates expertise in assembling resources, creating an organization, and working to build and implement effective action plans.

Innovation: Economic Development Impact Award
Has made a significant economic development impact in the community and continues to demonstrate their commitment to Champaign County.

2018 Innovation Transfer Award—University of Illinois
Recognizes an individual or group from the University of Illinois whose research has resulted in either a discovery or a work with the potential for significant societal impact.

 2018 Alexis Wernsing Innovation Award—University of Illinois
Recognizes an individual or team from the University of Illinois that has channeled their experience living with a disability into positive change through the creation of new products, environments, or protocols that enhance quality of life.

2018 Innovation in Engagement Award—Parkland College
Recognizes an individual or group at Parkland College who has shown support of the college’s community engagement mission.

The EDC is pleased to work with the following sponsors of our 13th Annual Innovation Celebration: the University of Illinois’ Technology Entrepreneur Center, Research Park, Office of Corporate Relations, and Office of Technology Management, along with Parkland College, Lodgic, Carle, Serra Ventures, Surface 51, Singleton Law Firm, City of Champaign, Ramshaw Real Estate, Litania Sports Group, Pixo, Hatch Ag Group, IllinoisVENTURES, Huawei R&D USA, Aqueous Solutions LLC, Personify, AARP, Hanson Financial, Community Solutions Incubator at the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois, II-VI EpiWorks, Illinois Small Business Development Center at Champaign County EDC, and Busey.




2018 Innovation Celebration Award finalists announced, Smile Politely