As part of a quest to honor the most groundbreaking work happening in our region, Grand Valley State University’s Muskegon Innovation Hub has selected the finalists for the first-ever “Lakeshore Innovator of the Year” award.
The “Innovator of the Year” will be announced during a ceremony at the Hub (200 Viridian Dr. in downtown Muskegon) on March 14. The ceremony is free and open to the public, but you must register. To do so, please click here.
In January, the Hub—a center in downtown Muskegon that provides business incubation, coworking space, funding assistance, and events and programming—called for Innovator of the Year nominations. This new award program comes at a time when Muskegon is increasingly drawing startups and entrepreneurs to the area.
“We were overwhelmed with the response to our call for applicants for our Innovator of the Year award, and these nominations were truly the best of the best,” Kevin Ricco, director of the Muskegon Innovation Hub, said in a press release. “We’re looking forward to picking one of these finalists to represent the innovative work being done all along the Lakeshore.”
The finalists are:
John Bilsky, Certified Master Water Specialist
Bilsky is the creator of a process that saves money and helps preserve fresh water. He works for a major West Michigan automotive supplier and pioneered a process that helps recycle water used in the manufacturing process to be used a second time. His innovation helps save money on water costs and reduces water waste.
Kristin Chmela and Julie Raynor, Co-Founders of Camp Shout Out
Chmela and Raynor are the co-founders of Camp Shout Out, a residential training and therapy program that assists children and teens, ages eight to 18, who stutter. The camp also provides training for speech and language pathologists and graduate students in the speech and language field. Their camp is unique in the United States, and the training and treatment portion of the camp is recognized by international experts. It helps more than 100 children per each week-long session.
Muskegon Area Career Tech Center machine/engineering class, which is led by instructors Kathy Van Til and Brent Nummerdor. The students are Jackson Huizenga, Liam Johnson, Jacob Loudermilk, Everett Emory, Michael Dixon, Ethan McKenzie, and Kyle Morris.
This group of students and instructors from the Muskegon Area Career Tech Center worked collaboratively with consultants from the Muskegon Area ISD to create a specialized desk designed specifically for a student at Oehrli Elementary in Montague. The student uses a camera and an iPad to assist with visual and mobility issues. The process of collaboration and innovation to create a final project brought together staff and students across a variety of disciplines.
Matt Pinter, Smart Vision Lights
Pinter was one of the original tenants of the Muskegon Alternative and Renewable Energy Center (MAREC), which was the predecessor to the Hub. He launched his company, Smart Vision Lights, from the early start at MAREC and has continued to grow it over nearly two decades. The company produces a wide variety of specialty LED lighting. Smart Vision is currently undergoing an expansion in Muskegon.
Rick Smith, President/CEO of HyVIDA Brands, Inc.
HyVIDA’s innovation is the application for two patents for a groundbreaking process to infuse hydrogen into carbonated beverages. This process is innovative because it can infuse hydrogen into carbonated beverages, when other hydrogen infusion companies can’t. This is significant because Smith said hydrogen is an antioxidant that reduces inflammation, improves workout recovery and cognitive function. This innovation allows HyVIDA to reduce operating costs and prepare for rapid growth in a burgeoning domestic market.
All photos courtesy of the Muskegon Innovation Hub.