The Lakeshore Innovator of the Year Award was created by the Muskegon Innovation Hub at Grand Valley State University as a way to honor and recognize the many creative innovators found in West Michigan. This amazing group of people is responsible for the tremendous increase in growth and improvement in the quality of life that has taken place in this part of the state over the past decade.
This award recognizes the most outstanding innovative idea and can be given to an individual or a team of people from any business, nonprofit, organization, or association in the West Michigan area using innovation to help their business or organization to better achieve its mission. Innovations that are eligible can include creative new devices, ideas, inventions, processes, product enhancements, or solutions to problems.
The 2021 Lakeshore Innovator of the Year award celebration took place at the Hub on July 29th, where the five finalists were celebrated with a very special ceremony. The event included entertainment, refreshments, and a keynote address from Jamiel Robinson, founder and CEO of Grand Rapids Area Black Business (GRABB), and co-owner of several ventures including Motu Viget Spirits, Ambiance GR Kitchen and Lounge, and Motu Lakeshore Wine Bar.
The five finalists for the 2021 award were:
Brent Raeth - CatchMark Technologies
CatchMark Technologies was founded in 2013 with the purpose of delivering professional technology services to small and midsize businesses throughout West Michigan. Their innovation is the “CatchMark Gives Back” program, which was created to encourage CatchMark teammates to use their skills, expertise and company resources to improve the communities in which they live.
Beth Beaman - Playhouse at White Lake
The Playhouse at White Lake has utilized inventive methods to remain connected and relevant over the past year. In order to continue offering new content amid the pandemic, The Playhouse traded in its live, in-person Summer Theatre Festival to become a three-camera movie production house. With only a four-week turnaround, Managing Director Beth Beaman decided not to cancel the summer season, but rather, to pivot and engage with audiences virtually, all while putting displaced artists to work.
Zaneta Adams - WINC For All women veterans
In 2017, while president and founder for WINC for All Women Veterans, Zaneta Adams created the Military Sisterhood Initiative, an online/app network platform for women veterans all over the country and beyond to connect and help lower the rate of suicide among them. Adams took her idea and partnered WINC with Challenge America to create a network that has over 5,000 women from all over the world connecting with one another and sharing stories of survival.
Jill Batka and Curtis Chambers - Dynamic Conveyor Corporation
The Dynamic Conveyor Corporation designed a new line of easy-to-clean conveyors specifically for food processing and packaging. The DynaClean sanitary conveyor line has a simple design allowing easy access to internal components. The DynaClean conveyors offer the food industry a line of plastic, custom conveyors that are eco-friendly, easy to clean, and save time and money.
Michael Hyacinthe - Wimage, LLC
Michael Hyacinthe founded Wimage, LLC in 2014 after creating the Wimage app, an educational application that allows kids to input words to create images and turn their ideas into a visual story. Wimage stands for "words to images." The goal of Wimage is to move kids from being passive consumers of digital content to being creative producers of content. Studies show that students learn better when they use technology to create their own content, rather than just consuming content.
The winner of the 2021 Lakeshore Innovator of the Year award was Zaneta Adams and her innovation WINC for All Women Veterans.
2022 Lakeshore Innovator of the Year Award
Nominations for the 2022 Lakeshore Innovator of the Year award will be open in May of 2022, with the award ceremony being held on July 28, 2022. Check out the Hub website and Facebook pages for details about this award and other special events and programs.
About the Muskegon Innovation Hub
The Muskegon Innovation Hub, part of Grand Valley State University, is a business innovation program that provides business incubation, coworking space, funding assistance, events, and programming. It is a key partner in the regional innovation ecosystem, and supports startup businesses, entrepreneurs and corporate innovation teams. For more information, visit gvsu.edu/mihub.