SBN Staff

Dr. George Newkome

Vice president for research

Dean of the University of Akron Graduate School

President of the University of Akron Research Foundation


Thanks to the efforts of Dr. George Newkome, vice president for research and dean of the University of Akron Graduate School, the university now offers a library of thousands of resources to hundreds of Northeast Ohio polymer companies.

But that’s not the only thing that makes him a visionary. It’s that he has been able to repeat visionary projects over and over throughout his career. He is consistently asking what he could do to make the path easier for others.

One of Newkome’s first activities at the University of Akron was to work together with Barry Rosenbaum, then technology director at Omnova Solutions, who helped to identify opportunities for shared services between industry and the university.

Omnova Solutions Inc., the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. and Exxon Mobil Corp. all had libraries of polymer books and journals, but had duplicative facilities and staff. Newkome proposed that each company donate its library to the University of Akron so publications could be managed at a central location. This ensured superior service and opening the library to polymer companies.

While at the University of South Florida as vice president for research, Newkome founded dozens of innovative and collaborative programs to benefit the University of South Florida and Tampa. Research funding grew from $22 million in 1986 to $184 million in 2001.

In just a little more than a decade at the University of Akron, Newkome, who is also president of the University of Akron Research Foundation, has led growth in research expenditures from $24 million in 2001 to $58 million in 2012 and fostered the formation of 116 active sponsored research projects.


How to reach: University of Akron Research Foundation, (330) 972-7840 or

Todd Hadbavny

Product manager


Keeley Schneider

Material development engineer


Jay Hathaway

Food and beverage segment manager

TPC Wire & Cable Corp.


After listening to a number of customer concerns about keeping their food and beverage manufacturing facilities clean, TPC Wire & Cable Corp.’s research and development team — led by Todd Hadbavny, product manager; Keeley Schneider, material development engineer; and Jay Hathaway, food and beverage segment manager — had a flash of insight.

Antimicrobial products have been around for years, most commonly found in household cleaning products — soaps and lotions — as well as in hospitals and other medical facilities.

But the bacteria, fungus and mold that grew on machinery, cables, floors, walls and other equipment were a real hazard. As a supplier of industrial cable, TPC focused its mission on how to use antimicrobial technology as it applied to electrical cable.

The solution was to develop its industrial cable product, Defender, to contain a silver ion-based additive in the jacket. Silver ions attack the cell wall of the microbe, destroying the microbe’s outer defense system within a few hours.

In addition to antimicrobial properties, Defender cable was designed to be flexible. Its small diameter makes it able to fit through tight spaces. The cable can withstand extreme temperatures, harsh chemicals, oils and acids while providing long-term, broad-spectrum protection from bacteria, mold and fungus.

Despite the obvious health benefits the antimicrobial cable provides, it also offers a money-saving solution for its customers. If an inspection by a health department or agency reveals microbial growth, it can lead to fines and possibly a shutdown while the cable is replaced.


How to reach: TPC Wire & Cable, (216) 525-4404 or

Wednesday, 28 August 2013 06:55

2013 Innovation Awards - Visionary - NDI

Geoff Thrope




Geoff Thrope, CEO of NDI, has founded four unique medical device firms — and hopes more will follow. From Medstim, to Checkpoint Surgical, to SPR Therapeutics and Deep Brain Innovations, Thrope has solidly landed the position of being a leading entrepreneur in the field of neurostimulation.

With more than 30 years of experience, including 15 years in academic research before joining the industry, he is helping make Cleveland an intellectual hub for neuroresearch worldwide. Thrope also is a managing director of the NDI Healthcare Fund, a venture fund focusing on investments in the neurodevice industry.

Thrope’s first company was Medstim, which developed an implanted device to deliver electrical stimulation to nerves that control bladder function, thereby addressing incontinence problems.

Medtronics purchased Medstim in 2008 but Thrope quickly followed that sale by launching Checkpoint Surgical. Checkpoint is a device designed to locate, evaluate and preserve nerves and muscles in surgical procedures for more successful patient outcomes. It is becoming the “standard of care” in many nerve protection cases and was even correctly used on an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” on ABC-TV.

The third company Thrope helped develop was SPR Therapeutics. It focuses on pain management with its peripheral nerve stimulation products for treating pain.

The fourth company is Deep Brain Innovations. This company is focused on the treatment of people afflicted with Parkinson’s disease. Clinical tests have produced some dramatic results.

Thrope continues to address significant unmet health conditions, improve patients’ lives and provide significant returns to investors.


How to reach: NDI, (216) 378-9106 or

John Palazzo

President and CEO

Frontline International


Changing the fry oil in a restaurant is the last thing anyone wants to do. It’s hot and dirty, and you could get hurt handling it. That’s why Frontline International took up the challenge of finding a safer alternative.

While maintaining the fryer is considered the worst job in the kitchen, and may be the greatest source of the revolving door of entry-level hires in restaurants, any interaction with a fryer can also be quite dangerous. Slips and falls are the leading cause of foodservice accidents, followed by burns.

So finding a solution made sense, not only to reduce the hazard, but also to involve the emerging biofuel industry and other secondary markets that use fry oil.

Frontline, under the leadership of president and CEO John Palazzo, developed Smart Oil Management, which, in a nutshell, is plumbing for oil.

Boxed or bulk oil is plumbed to the existing fryer, which in turn is plumbed to a waste oil holding tank. The system is electronically monitored with sensors to ensure that alerts are sent regarding system status — such as how full the tank is or how often fry oil is being changed.

Convenience is added with a “faucet.” With a push of a button, fresh oil flows to the fryer. To empty the fryer, it’s a similar process: push a button, and filtered waste oil flows to the waste tank.

Frontline has won the prestigious National Restaurant Association’s Kitchen Innovations Award for two consecutive years.


How to reach: Frontline International, (330) 861-1100 or

Roger Buelow


Energy Focus Inc.


You could say Energy Focus Inc. has a bright idea — but that would only be part of the story. Thanks to a process it adopted to go through the expensive and time-consuming steps to obtain a patent, and by following a unique methodology, EFOI is able to protect the advanced technology and ideas that go into its lighting products, allowing the company to innovate the LED field.

When the U.S. Navy recently contracted with EFOI for LED lighting, a portion of the order was for LED fixtures already qualified and manufactured at EFOI. But the remainder required a solution to a legacy 2-foot fluorescent fixture with more than 1 million lamps in total, which is the major general shipboard lighting fixture for the fleet.

EFOI then developed the M1 IntelliTube. A cross-disciplinary team lead by Roger Buelow, CTO, worked almost exclusively for months on the challenges to meet strict military standards.

The success of the M1 IntelliTube and the contract means that 7 percent of the U.S. fleet will now use LED lights. This will save the Navy 1.8 megawatts in power, which translates into 1 million gallons of diesel fuel per year.

In addition, the M1 IntelliTube allows for a 40 percent reduction in total ownership cost over the fixture’s lifetime by eliminating the maintenance/storage burden.

The next step is to supply the rest of the fleet with LED solutions, increase EFOI’s LED military product line, and penetrate emerging markets like the Navy support fleet and ally navies.


How to reach: Energy Focus Inc., (440) 715-1300 or

Grant Cleveland,

President and CEO

DuneCraft Inc.


You really have no excuse for not making more money as an employee at DuneCraft Inc. under the leadership of President and CEO Grant Cleveland.

The company, which creates terrariums geared to excite people about plants and nature, regularly looks at initiatives that will make its team more efficient and more profitable.

Its piecework system for the warehouse is an example of innovation at work. Time studies are done and employees are paid by the piece for what they assemble. Employees can make no less than minimum wage and up to $13 an hour. The results of this system were quick, and productivity actually quadrupled.

With fewer people needed, the company was able to operate more efficiently. Sales doubled and the remaining team members each earned an average of $11 an hour or more.

The company has also been innovative on the trade show front. DuneCraft prepares customized proposals for customers prior to seeing them at trade shows. The proposals are based on what products they carried in the past, as well as their sales results by price point, theme and audience. The proposals include a color presentation of recommended items as well as a complete printout of their past sales history with DuneCraft.

By distilling the information into a report, it took much of the stress out of coming to a trade show and trying to figure out what new products to carry.


How to reach: DuneCraft Inc., (800) 306-4168 or

Wednesday, 28 August 2013 06:44

2013 Innovation Awards - Sponsors


LaCentre is innovative in all components of event planning — the in-house catering, event planning and audiovisual services provide unique menus, ideas, products and experiences to clients and their guests.

When planning an event at LaCentre, clients initially work with the sales team to discuss their needs, vision and budget. The creative and knowledgeable team then works with the catering and audiovisual staff to create a memorable and unique experience while meeting these three critical components.

Many clients need to fit presentations, lunch and breakout sessions into a small window of time. The sales team will provide the client with various options, such as ways to multi-purpose space or fast yet satisfying meals to achieve a great experience within the allotted time.

For example, by using crescent style seating, rather than classroom style, one room may possibly be used for presentations, breakout sessions and lunch. This small concept may in turn minimize attendees from shuffling from room to room at a venue and add an extra 30 minutes to another important element of the event.

The sales and catering teams also share innovation in menu planning. For example, they may suggest a salad with protein, served within a bread bowl, to help a client provide guests with a satisfying meal within a short period of time. Or they may suggest serving pie as dessert on Pi Day, or hot dogs and Cracker Jacks on Opening Day for the Indians.

The sales and catering teams also enjoy working with clients to create signature drinks that incorporate event colors, themes or favorite flavors. For example a “Pickle-tini” may be suggested to play off a client’s favorite snack or Blue Curacao may be suggested to turn a basic vodka soda into a teal concoction that matches the company logo.

These whimsical touches can make an ordinary event extraordinary for guests and help provide a memorable experience for everyone involved.

LaCentre’s in-house audiovisual team offers the newest equipment and ideas to take client’s events to the next level. With access to and knowledge of state-of-the-art speakers and equipment, the audiovisual team can transform LaCentre into a global meeting space — bringing together hundreds of employees and minimizing travel expenses. They can provide custom lighting displays to make the ballroom feel like a forest, for a client with a nature theme, or suspend aerialists from the ceiling, for a client with a circus theme. The sky is truly the limit for LaCentre’s audiovisual Team.

For more information, call LaCentre at (440) 250-2000 or visit


Hughie’s Even Production Services

Hughie’s Event Production Services has been Cleveland’s choice for live-event design and production resource since 1953. Hughie’s believes in giving back to the city where it all began and the area that they’ve called home for 60 years.

Hughie’s is now soliciting donations of non-perishable food items from customers, vendors and the community to distribute to local charities at the end of the year.

Hughie’s offices in Columbus and Pittsburgh will also participate in this nine-month event for their respective cities in honor of the company’s 60th anniversary.

Donation drop-off containers are available in each of the Hughie’s offices for the length of the celebration.

As a “thank you” for your generous food donation, you’ll be presented you with a free, “eco-friendly” shopping bag with Hughie’s 60th anniversary logo. In addition, participants who provide a name and phone number will be entered into a drawing to win one of three new 32-inch flat-screen televisions at the end of the year. A total of three flat screens TVs will be given away, one at each location.

All donations received in the Cleveland area will be distributed to the Cleveland Food Bank, with Columbus and Pittsburgh donations going to similar charities. The winner of the flat screen TVs will be announced at the conclusion of the promotion on Dec. 15.

Hughie’s is a full service event production company and worldwide supplier of high-definition video projection equipment, concert quality audio systems, intelligent moving lights, staging systems, decor and more to satisfy all your companies presentation and special event needs.

For more information, call Hughie’s Event Production Services at (216) 361-4600, visit or follow us on social media at or on Twitter @HughiesEPS.


U.S. Bank

Innovation is vital to the future of U.S. Bank, and it is a corporate priority to innovate and invest in technology and operations systems that make it easy, fast and secure to do business with us.

We invest in new ways to provide the information, products and delivery systems our customers need — and to enhance our capabilities in the areas of regulatory compliance and risk management. We have fostered a culture of innovation and are committed to investments in technology both externally and internally.

Our initiatives include solutions for consumers and small businesses, as well as for larger businesses and targeted business sectors here and internationally.

Paybefore has chosen U.S. Bank’s Contour Campus Card as a 2013 Paybefore Awards winner in the “Most Effective Solution” category. Paybefore Awards recognizes excellence in the worldwide prepaid and emerging payments industry.

For more information, call U.S. Bank at (216) 623-9228 or visit


Lorain County Community College

Lorain County Community College is recognized as an innovative leader in both education and economic development. Most recently, the Aspen Institute named LCCC as one of the top 120 colleges in the country in both 2011 and 2012. The college’s innovative spirit enables it to achieve this type of recognition, and it all stems from a unique approach to strategic planning. Vision 2.0, the college’s latest strategic planning process invited hundreds of stakeholders to participate and used their feedback to shape the college’s future direction.

By constantly observing the needs and opportunities of the communities served, LCCC is able to develop programming that unites education with job creation — strengthening the region for employers, students and the community.

For more information about LCCC, call (800) 995-5222,visit or like LCCC on Facebook at

Dr. Dvora Nelson,

President and CEO

Nelson Medical Enterprises LLC


Unless you are naturally gifted to perform a particular skill, it takes a lot of practice to get good at it. In the case of medical skills, that practice, while necessary, can create a significant risk to the person on whom the skill is being performed.

Dr. Dvora Nelson, president and CEO of Nelson Medical Enterprises LLC, wanted to create a product that would solve this problem by giving trainees a place to hone their skills without fear of harming a real person. The ScleroTrainer provides an opportunity for physicians, nurses and other physician extenders to have hands-on sclerotherapy training on a model. The trainer has veins that range in size from 0.2 to 0.5 mm in diameter. It mimics the feel and effect of injecting spider veins on real people.

Successful ScleroTrainer injections directly correlate with being able to precisely inject spider veins on actual patients to remove the unsightly blood vessels.

The risk to patients of a mistake made during sclerotherapy is significant. It’s a delicate skill that requires one to accurately access tiny veins and inject caustic chemicals into the vein in order to destroy the vein. If one accidentally injects the skin with the corrosive chemicals, the skin will ulcerate and develop a painful wound.

This can scare potential trainees from wanting to learn the skill out of fear that they will make a mistake and create serious problems for their patients. The ScleroTrainer removes that fear from the equation.


How to reach: Nelson Medical Enterprises LLC, (440) 617-6061 or

Len Cosentino

President and CEO

Checkpoint Surgical


The team at Checkpoint Surgical knew there had to be a better way. The options available for nerve stimulation were either outdated or complicated and time-consuming to use.

So under the leadership of Len Cosentino, the company’s president and CEO, a world-class team of surgeons and biomedical engineers set out to create a new device. This device would help surgeons locate, identify and evaluate motor nerve tissue and muscle functions, ultimately enabling surgeons to make important surgical decisions with increased confidence.

The Checkpoint Stimulator/Locator is a state-of-the-art, handheld and intra-operative nerve and muscle stimulator. It is now used at more than 100 hospitals across the U.S., and that number is growing daily. It also has a reorder rate of 95 percent.

At first, the product was targeted for upper-extremity orthopedic surgeons, but it is now being used for orthopedic trauma; orthopedic lower, head and neck; plastics; neurologists; and hand surgeons. Oral surgeons have also found a use for the device, and sales have doubled in each of the past two years.

Awareness of the product is spreading around the world as it has been adopted in Australia, South Africa, Canada and soon Kuwait. It was also featured during a live surgical web presentation in Paris, generating new awareness in Europe.

One of the keys to its success is the fact that it is simple to use and doesn’t require a lot of training in order to become familiar with the device. This saves time and helps procedures go more smoothly.


How to reach: Checkpoint Surgical, (216) 378-9107 or

Thomas Kinisky, President and CEO

Jean Angus, Innovation process director

Saint Gobain Performance Plastics


Innovation has always been top of mind for Thomas Kinisky and his leadership of Saint Gobain Performance Plastics.

He works hard to empower his people to be both innovative and forward thinking in their daily work. When you have employees who are collaborating to contribute valuable solutions to your business, you have a strong culture that is ready for any challenge it may face.

So it shouldn’t have surprised anyone when the company created The Plastics Innovation Council, and then received essays from 75 employees explaining why they deserved to be named to the council.

This group was ultimately formed with 20 members, and its task was to take innovation at Saint Gobain to even greater heights. Despite the culture, the council discovered that there was no evidence of an enterprise-wide, systematic and comprehensive program on creating and nurturing innovation. A search was convened and Jean Angus was brought in as the company’s innovation process director.

Angus developed a program based on three platforms: people, strategy and solutions. The result is a company that was good at innovation and is now one of the leaders across any type of industry you could name. More than 100 workshops have been held and more than 1,500 people have been trained.

Saint Gobain has engaged customers and identified undiscovered customer needs in 30 market applications. This disciplined approach has built a wave of momentum toward innovation that continues to build.


How to reach: Saint Gobain Performance Plastics, (216) 245-0529 or