2017 Innovation Awards honor ingenuity of Alabama companies

2017 Innovation Awards honor ingenuity of Alabama companies
Cullman's ZeroRPM, which makes a system that allows a vehicle to idle without running the engine, received a 2017 Innovation Award from EDPA. (Contributed)

Three Alabama businesses were honored this week as leading innovators in their fields.

The Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA) presented the 2017 Innovation Awards at its “imerge” program in Birmingham.

EDPA imerge from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Among this year’s winners is ZeroRPM, named Corporate Innovator of the Year in the small company category.

The company was recognized for its ZeroRPM Idle Mitigation System that allows a vehicle to idle without running the engine.

ZeroRPM Chief Executive and Chief Technology Officer Lance Self said it is an honor for the company to be recognized for something that is in its DNA.

“As a fast-growing technology company, innovation has been required in our processes and systems, as well as in our products. Innovation is our way of life and the team has been excited by the award,” he said.

Self said the state and the Cullman region have offered advantages critical to the success of the company, which started at Wallace State Community College.

The school was awarded $200,000 from the Alabama Innovation Fund in 2012 to use to support ZeroRPM in its launch. The Innovation Fund, administered by the Alabama Department of Commerce, provides key support for academic programs that generate new business ventures and create jobs.

2017 Alabama Innovation Award winner: Zero RPM from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

“The state of Alabama, Cullman Economic Development, and Wallace State Community College were all instrumental in ZeroRPM’s launch and early incubation,” he said. “We could not imagine better support or a better place for an entrepreneur to launch a company than Cullman, Alabama.”

In addition, Wallace State and the University of Alabama in Huntsville have provided ZeroRPM with exceptionally well-educated employees, Self said. More than half of the ZeroRPM team has been educated by the two schools.

As for the future, Self said the company’s vision is to sustain the growth trajectory of its first five years over the next five years.

“We will accomplish this with innovative employees who deliver innovative solutions to our customers,” he said.

2017 winners

The award winners were chosen from a pool of 88 nominations from across Alabama. Other winners:

    • Quality Filters of Robertsdale, Outstanding Achievement in Innovative Manufacturing. The company was recognized for its advanced manufacturing methods and lean business processes in cutting the lead time for filter deliveries from three to four weeks to averaging five days or less.

2017 Alabama Innovation Award winner: Quality Filters from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

    • Diatherix of Huntsville, Corporate Innovator of the Year in the large company category. The award recognizes the company’s groundbreaking pathogen detection technology, which enables health care providers to more accurately determine the cause of an infection and determine multiple infection sources.

2017 Alabama Innovation Award winner: Diatherix from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

2017 Alabama Innovation Lifetime Achievement Award winner: Jim Hudson from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The annual awards, which started in 2014, are just one of the ways EDPA spotlights entrepreneurs and innovators in Alabama.

The organization’s successful startup competition, Alabama Launchpad, has pumped millions of dollars into companies across the state and has recently begun regional contests.

Celebrating ingenuity

The awards were presented during an Oscars-style celebration at the Alabama Theatre. Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author Thomas L. Friedman was the keynote speaker.

“The EDPA Innovation Awards showcases the most innovative companies in our state,” said EDPA President Steve Spencer. “The winners, and for that matter all of the nominees, are leaders in their spaces, driving forward Alabama’s innovation economy.”

The award winners were selected by a panel of judges, under the chairmanship of ADTRAN CEO Tom Stanton. The panel included Ralph Hargrove, president and CEO of Hargrove Engineers + Constructors; Tharon Honeycutt, founder and president, MSB Analytics; Gene Moorhead, professional EOS implementer; Peggy Sutton, founder and president of To Your Health Sprouted Flour Co.; and Neill Wright, executive vice president of Liberty Bank.

The EDPA is a key economic development ally of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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