“Innovation is not just in our workplace. It is in our people, our community, and our society.”
This was the phrase used to describe the event held by the Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest on November 21. Held at PNW’s Westville campus, the event was a celebration of various Northwest Indiana entrepreneurs who contribute to and drive economic and community development throughout the entire region.
“This event is meant to acknowledge those who have made a mark in the region and to tell the stories of local innovators,” said Jason Williams, assistant director of the Society of Innovators. “Here we celebrate the past and build anticipation for the future. Being a part of this program has been exciting because it gave me the opportunities to connect and engage with those who have been embedded here for years.”
Founded in 2004, the Society of Innovators began as a program at Ivy Tech with the purpose of “identifying and celebrating innovation.” In 2018, the Society began a partnership with PNW, which as a premier metropolitan university aims to be a driving force of transformation in the area.
“A bigger part of who we are as an institution has to do with our role in our geographic area,” Purdue Northwest Chancellor Thomas L. Keon said in his opening remarks to the gathering. “When we expand ourselves, especially off-campus, it is for the purpose of allowing all of Northwest Indiana to be able to have quick and reliable access to the university and our resources.”
Sheila Matias, executive director of the Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest as well as the Leadership Institute at Purdue Northwest, noted the important role the Society plays in supporting the growth of innovators and entrepreneurs.
“Building an ecosystem in Northwest Indiana where innovation and creativity flourishes is essential and requires all of us focused on breaking down silos and supporting the concept of innovation,” Matias said. “Chancellor Keon has brought that vision to his work both within the university and within the community. We now see alignment and shared goals between the Northwest Indiana Forum, the business community, educators and workforce experts and community leaders. It is truly an exciting time for innovation and entrepreneurship in Northwest Indiana.”
“We utilize innovation as a driver of economic and community development,” added Gary Johnson, president of Mortar Net Solutions and Society of Innovators at PNW board chair. “Overall I see a lot of potential for growth. I want people to really see the progress the Society has made to define an important role in economic development in Northwest Indiana and to strongly uphold its affiliation with PNW.”
The Society also presented its founder, John Davies, with its first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is given at the discretion of the Society’s board of directors to a person who demonstrates significant innovation sustained over a period of time, across roles, companies and sectors, and whose community impact will be realized for generations.
“(The Society of Innovators) is entering a new era, so now gives us the opportunity to leave behind footsteps on the sands of time,” said Davies in a video presentation for the audience.
To learn more about the Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest and its future endeavors, please visit www.pnw.edu/soi.