NWI Innovators of the Month: November 2016

By: Contributor Last Updated: October 29, 2016

Innovators-of-theMonth-October-2016_01NWI Innovators of the Month highlights work in progress at Indiana’s only water-based institute sponsored by a university, the Water Institute at Purdue University Northwest. Also featured is Porter-Starke Services, Inc., and in its new innovative “total health” clinic – the Marram Health Center. This issue is for the media serving Jasper, Lake, La Porte, Newton, Porter, Pulaski and Starke Counties. Each edition features inspiring stories of innovators who are Members of The Society of Innovators. The Society is part of Ivy Tech’s Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center. For information, contact O’Merrial Butchee, Director, Lamkin I & E Center at (219) 981-4942, or John Davies, Managing Director, The Society of Innovators at (219) 981-1111, Ext. 2292.

State’s only university-based Water Institute nationally recognized...
In search of the answer if water can be a tool to attract high tech companies to Northwest Indiana, the Water Institute of now Purdue University Northwest launched a two-year study several years ago, said George Nnanna, Ph.D., P.E. Director based in Hammond. The goal was to determine if our region’s most abundant natural resource could be a catalyst to bring technology companies here. The outcome determined that water was a factor, but also important were socio-economic factors like high school graduation rates and lifelong learning by college students. Ironically, this study was a precursor to this region’s now vaunted initiatives to improve graduation rates, emphasize STEM careers, and prepare students with skills for work and life. This is just one of the ways that Indiana’s only university-based water institute is serving the region now focusing on advanced technologies for water quality. When BP was expanding to process Canadian tar sands and concern was raised over the levels of mercury for discharge into Lake Michigan, the institute teamed up with Argonne National Laboratory to develop technologies to help solve this problem. Even as the institute is receiving national recognition for its newly patented research into the manipulation of atomic particles called nanotechnology, the aim in its second decade is to commercialize cost-effective technologies to improve water quality. “In a time of aging infrastructure, we want to remind the world of the importance of ensuring water quality,” Dr. Nnanna added.

Innovators-of-theMonth-October-2016_02Porter-Starke Services continues to innovate with Marram Health Center...
Can a mental health center offer both traditional mental health services and medical services for clients? To some this may seem a contradiction, and to traditionalists it is stepping outside of your zone. But to forward-looking providers like Porter-Starke Services, Inc., it is stepping outside the box to better serve patients. It even has a name called “total health,” and just in October, this 41-year old service based in Valparaiso started dental services at its new Federally Qualified Health Center in Gary near Indiana University Northwest. Now one-year old, the Marram Health Center named after the sturdy dune grass that holds the dunes in place, has served over 1,800 clients. “Better health results from serving both the mind and the body, and statistics show that chronically depressed people die 25 years earlier than others,” said Rocco Schiralli, President/CEO of the community mental health center with offices in Knox and Portage. Besides, Porter-Starke has been offering this service with proven results by partnering with HealthLinc for a decade. But doing new things is nothing new. It pioneered the Roosevelt University study in Porter County in 2006 on the methadone crisis there, its Recovery Center serves 250 clients a day. And it was the first mental health provider in the nation to encourage employees, clients and the community to write self-reflection essays called “This I Believe” made famous by Edward R. Murrow and National Public Radio. “We’re about health, balance and hope,” Rocky said.