Here Are the 2019 Chicago Innovation Award Winners

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  • Oct 29, 2019

From Chicago Inno – October 29, 2019

The 18th annual Chicago Innovation Awards took place Monday night, and 25 local companies and organizations were recognized for their innovative contributions.

After reviewing more than 450 nominations, 100 finalists were announced in September and a panel of 14 judges picked this year’s winners. Notable honorees this year include Lanzatech, Cambium Networks and Tillable.

Chicago Innovation, the local nonprofit that aims to bolster a thriving innovation ecosystem, hosted its annual award ceremony at the Harris Theater. The event opened with co-hosts performing a choreographed dance number alongside an a capella group as a Tesla Model X was driven onto the stage.

Hosts included Chicago Innovation co-founder Tom Kuczmarski, Chicago Innovation Executive Director Luke Tanen, ClearEdge Marketing Founder and CEO Leslie Vickrey and Leadership Greater Chicago CEO Maria Wynne.

The event’s featured speakers included Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who spoke about how to foster innovation in all of Chicago’s neighborhoods, and Jim Belushi, the actor and musician turned cannabis entrepreneur, who closed his one-on-one interview with Christie Hefner by performing “Sweet Home Chicago” on the harmonica. Hefner, the former chairman and CEO of Playboy Enterprises, also gave a speech on the importance of gender equality in the workplace.

Awards were presented by a range of local tech entrepreneurs and civic leaders, including World Business Chicago CEO Andrea Zopp, the State of Illinois CIO Ron Guerrier and P33 CEO Brad Henderson.

Of all previous Chicago Innovation Award winners, the organization says that 98 percent are still operating today. Many past winners have been acquired by corporations or private equity firms, with 46 exits totaling more than $90 billion since 2002. This year’s 450 nominees have accounted for 1,001 patents and $13.9 billion in revenues, Chicago Innovation says.

Winners receive the opportunity to ring the Nasdaq bell in New York City, and participate in meetings with Mayor Lightfoot, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. And new this year, winners will also go to the United Nations to meet with key leaders to discuss how to reach sustainability goals through innovation.

“Innovation is really etched into our city’s DNA,” Lightfoot said at the event. “But innovation is also a team sport and our city’s got the best team in the world.” 

See all the winners below:

Chicago Innovation Award Winners (Main Category)

Cambium Networks

Wintrust Chicago Neighborhood Awards

Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives
Chicago Foundation for Women
Women’s Business Development Center

Accenture Corporate Innovator Award


The TTS Technology-Enabled Award


The SMS Assist Entrepreneurial Spirit Award

Fast Radius

Up-and-Comer Awards

Winston Privacy
Swap Motors

Social Innovator Awards

Bunker Labs
Bounce Children’s Foundation
Chicago History Museum

Collaboration Awards

Adler Planetarium
Young Invincibles/Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

People’s Choice Award

Current Media & Northern Illinois Food Bank (tied)