Innovation Leader Impact Awards

Innovation Leader’s Impact Awards honor companies and individuals that have achieved extraordinary outcomes related to their innovation programs. Unlike other awards, Innovation Leader’s program is based on what matters; namely, the impact of your programs (i.e., not the existence of the programs themselves).

2021 award applications will be accepted from March 29, 2021 through June 25, 2021. Final deadline extended to July 13th, 2021!

You can read about our 2020 Impact Award winners or watch a webcast that features several of our 2019 honorees talking about their winning initiatives.

There are three award categories for 2021:

  • Impact Award ($295 entry fee for non-members)
  • Best New Initiative ($295 entry fee for non-members)
  • Most Valuable Player ($295 entry fee for non-members)

There are no submission fees for current Innovation Leader members.

The Impact Awards will be a central part of the Impact 21/22 event series.

About the Awards Program

Have you delivered impact through a crowdsourcing program, innovation lab, employee idea challenge, corporate VC program, or other innovation strategy — whether internally or externally focused? Do you have a team member who has been doing incredible work? Then you should be submitting to the Impact Awards!

Our Impact Awards acknowledge established initiatives that are over a year old and have delivered concrete business results. Our Best New Initiative Awards recognize promising and well-designed programs that have been in place for a year or less, and may not have outcome metrics yet. Finally, our Most Valuable Player Awards honor members of innovation teams that have contributed significantly to projects or organizational change. Quantitative metrics should be used in your awards submission whenever possible. Entries will be accepted starting in March 2021. Winners will be announced at our annual conference, Impact.

Timelines and Deadlines

  • March 29, 2021: Submissions open for 2021 awards cycle
  • June 25, 2021: Submission deadline for 2021 awards cycle
  • July 13, 2021: Extended deadline for 2021 awards cycle
  • September 13th, 2021: Finalists announced for 2021 Impact Awards
  • October 26th, 2021: Winners of the 2021 Impact Awards announced
  • November 2021: Winners honored at Impact 2021

The 2021 Judging Panel:

  • Chad Brady, Director, Oracle Utilities (former Director, Duke Energy)
  • Algernon Callier, Head of Business Development,
  • Michelle Cohen, Director of the Innovation & Acceleration Lab, CME Group
  • Jeff George, Senior VP of R&D, The Hain Celestial Group
  • Jay Gerhart, VP, Innovation Engine, Atrium Health
  • Colleen Hau, Director of Global Product Innovation, Carhartt
  • Fuat Koro, former Head of Corporate Strategy & Innovation, Bose Corp.
  • Navin Kunde, Department Manager of Open Innovation, Clorox
  • Tony Parham, Senior VP and Head of Sales Innovation, Fidelity Investments
  • Rick Paster, VP of M&A Integration, Peloton
  • Jeanette Uddoh, Head of Innovation, Access Bank
  • Dan Wheeler, Chief Marketing Officer, Uncle Julios Corp.

Eligibility Criteria

Entries will be accepted from companies that have more than 1,000 employees AND generate at least $100 million in annual revenue. Companies from all industries and locations are encouraged to apply. We will also accept entries from nonprofits and government entities with 500 or more employees. Categories include:

Impact Award: Entries are valid for work undertaken between January 1, 2018 and June 25, 2021. Because many innovation initiatives take several years to create meaningful impact, we’ve allowed for an extended eligibility period to capture initiatives for which you may have measurable impact data or metrics.

Best New Initiative Award: This category is for innovation initiatives that have been in place for less than one year but are showing potential — if not yet measurable financial results. This category will be judged based on thoughtful design, creativity, and putting in place the foundations for long-term success. (Note: an initiative should be entered only in the Impact Award or Best New Initiative Award categories, but not both.)

Most Valuable Player Award: Any individual at any level of seniority working for an innovation, R&D, corporate venture capital, new product development, or similar team, who has been involved in delivering tangible organizational outcomes. We'll also consider MVP candidates who may work in a central function or business unit, but have collaborated or supported innovation groups in important ways. (Note: people involved in an Impact Award or Best New Initiative Award entry can be submitted for MVP Awards as well.)


What are the Impact Awards?

Innovation Leader, a fast-growing publishing and events company, created the Impact Awards to honor companies and individuals that have achieved extraordinary outcomes related to their R&D, HR, new product development, and other innovation-related initiatives.

Are there fees to enter?

Entries are free for members of Innovation Leader (click here for more information on membership). Non-members will be charged $295 for each entry. If you're not an IL member, you'll receive an invoice following your submission. Entries will not be considered until any relevant entry fees are paid.

Can I submit more than one entry?

Yes, you may submit multiple entries if there are several projects, initiatives, or individuals that you’d like to have considered for awards. (Please do not submit the same project/initiative in the Impact Award and Best New Initiative categories, however: choose one.)

Who are the judges?

Finalists will be chosen by Innovation Leader’s editorial team, but we’ve assembled a panel of judges to choose the winners from the pool of awards finalists.

How will the winners be announced?

The winners will be announced during our annual conference, Impact, and on our website.

What will the winners receive?

Winners receive a beautiful award, and presentation of the award will be part of our Impact 2021 conference agenda. Impact Award winners will have the opportunity to create short pre-recorded videos or run live sessions to share advice and insights from their initiative; these will be shared before and during the conference. Impact Awards, MVP, and Best New Initiative Awards winners will receive one complimentary ticket to Impact 2021. (Vendors and consultancies, if you submit an award on behalf of a client, please note that if your client wins, only the client has the opportunity to attend Impact and present at the conference. We are able to provide additional trophies to firms submitting on behalf of a client, for a small fee, and we will credit vendors and consultancies in any write-ups related to the winners that appear online or in print.)

All winners — for the Impact, Best New Initiative, and MVP categories — will be recognized as part of the proceedings of Impact 2021.

All winners will be promoted by Innovation Leader in all its vehicles, including email, online, and print (print magazine reaches 20,000+ innovation executives). The winners will also receive recognition in a press release issued as part of Impact, and during the conference program at Impact 2021. Winners will also receive a digital logo for royalty-free use online and in print, and will be promoted to our community of innovation execs via social media and our newsletter.

Am I required to attend Impact 2021 in order to submit for the Impact Awards?

Award submitters are encouraged to attend Impact 2021, but are not required to purchase a ticket in order to submit. If you have purchased a ticket and win an Impact Award or Best New Initiative Award, you will have the ability to give your complimentary award winner ticket to another colleague. MVP winners will have the ability to purchase a discounted ticket to Impact.

Who were the past winners?

Past winners include Medtronic, USAA, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Doosan Bobcat, Cisco, Citi, DBS Bank, Bosch, Duke Energy, and more. See the complete lists from 2018, 2019, and 2020.

What should I do before starting the entry process?

It can be helpful to write up your entry (600 words or less) before you begin the submission process. You can do this in any word processing program, and cut-and-paste into the entry form. For the Impact Award category: please focus on not only describing the initiative, but also tangible business results and impact as much as possible. (Let us know in the entry if some data needs to be confidential.) Best New Initiative Award: please focus on the design, creativity, and foundations you've put in place, as well as any early outcomes. (Note: an initiative should be entered only in the Impact Award or Best New Initiative Award categories, but not both.) Most Valuable Player Award: please focus on this person's work and contributions, and any business outcomes they were vital to.