Announcing the Winners of InnoLead’s 2023 Impact Awards

By Hadley Thompson |  October 10, 2023

Mobile classrooms, generative AI, and fusion power — oh my! The winners of this year’s Impact Awards were achieving some amazing things.

InnoLead’s Impact Awards, created in 2018, celebrate the people and teams inside big organizations delivering tangible value through innovative and experimental projects.

For 2023, we’re recognizing 11 winners. Some companies nominate their own initiatives, while others are submitted to the process by our editorial team and judges (see below for the list of this year’s judges.) For more details about each initiative, please see our post about the 2023 Impact Award finalists.

Winners will be honored at the Impact 2023 conference, taking place October 25-27 in Boston.

Our 2023 Impact Award Winners

AARP — AARP’s AgeTech Collaborative seeks to spur innovation at the nexus of longevity and technology. By connecting the leading AgeTech startups, most forward-thinking investors, enlightened enterprises and creative testbeds in a collaborative space designed to generate big new ideas, this system is sending thriving products into a global economy worth more than $45 trillion.  Startups involved in the collaborative have collectively raised more than $420 million, and impacted 575,000 customers.

AARP’s AgeTech Collaborative connects startups, large organizations, and prospective customers at online and in-person events, including some held at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Black & Veatch —  The global engineering and construction firm Black & Veatch created the Digital Equity Bus (DEB), a mobile classroom used by Evergreen Goodwill to help build computer and career skills in underserved populations. It features SMART Board technology, Wi-Fi access, adjustable desks, seating for 9-12 people, ADA accessible ramp, and room for multiple instructors.

Partner: Evergreen Goodwill of Northwest Washington

An inside look of the Digital Equity Bus’s layout.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) — The Boston-based nonprofit insurer is working toward an ambitious goal — to be a leading health plan for mental health access and coverage by reducing barriers using a combination of technology and high-quality, empathetic service to navigate members to available clinicians, well-matched, convenient, and affordable; to limit out-of-network use; and to provide ongoing support.

Boston Globe Media Partners — The Boston-based media company launched a twice-yearly Innovation Week, including a Hack Day & Idea Pitch activity. More than 300 ideas have been pitched through this new program by more than 200 different employees. One group created a business plan for a standalone new brand, “The B-Side,” with a newsletter, distinct identity, and a creative social campaign that would connect younger readers in Boston to the company’s journalism.

Partner: Brightidea

IBM — IBM’s collaboration with NASA on the model converts satellite data into high-resolution maps of fires, floods, and other landscape changes. This technology may help to better understand Earth’s past, and what is in store for the future in terms of climate change trends. As part of the project, the team built first-ever foundation model for analyzing geospatial data.

Lawrence Livermore National Library —  3.15 megajoules of energy output, with just 2.05 megajoules of energy input? That’s what you call a breakthrough. The federally-funded R&D lab’s 2022 first-of-a-kind experiment in nuclear fusion could be used to produce energy with near-zero carbon emissions. By July 2023, the team of scientists repeated the experiment, delivering an even higher energy yield. 

The preamplifiers of the National Ignition Facility, which are the first step in increasing the energy of laser beams.

L’Oreal — For creating the world’s first hand-held computerized makeup applicator designed for those with hand-motion disorders, arthritis, Huntington’s Disease, and following stroke-related motion challenges.

Microsoft — Bing Chat, launched in February 2023, is Microsoft’s conversational chatbot, powered by OpenAI’s GPT-4 large language model. But unlike OpenAI’s version, it can pull in recent information from across the web, and provide users with source links for the answers it provides. And it has more personality. 

Partner: OpenAI

Sam Altman, CEO and Founder of OpenAI. Photo by TechCrunch – TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2019 – Day 2, CC BY 2.0.

OpenAI — Launched in November 2022, ChatGPT suddenly got people to take the idea of AGI — artificial general intelligence — seriously. It was able to pass law school, business school, and medical licensure exams by leveraging its vast knowledge base, and many people believe it had also passed the Turing Test as well. By January 2023, ChatGPT had hit 100 million active monthly users, making it one of the fastest-growing apps in history.

OSF Healthcare — OSF HealthCare and High Alpha Innovation collaborated to launch Marti, a site that brings access, literacy, and transparency to Sickle Cell Disease patients and caregivers. This solution reduces the administrative time that SCD Care Coordinators and doctors must spend on activities like outreach, scheduling, and basic education, allowing members of the care team to operate at the top of their license and focus on delivery of care. And it creates a new billable event for hematology practices, “principal care management,” potentially generating more than $1,200 per patient, per year. 

Partner: High Alpha Innovation

The Nature Conservancy — The Virginia-based nonprofit committed to helping staff in every department understand, embrace, and develop innovation skills using a longitudinal, project-based learning approach. Administrators are already seeing changes in the workplace like organizational, communicative, and intuitive understandings. Business outcomes include things like increased donor close rates, using automated transcripts to replace note-taking by assistants, and automating the HR workflow to accelerate the hiring process.

Partner: Danger Fort Labs 

A Microsoft Teams online session as part of The Nature Conservancy’s initiative.

Congratulations to all of our winners and finalists, and thanks to our judges for the 2023 awards. They were:

  • Nat Arlander, Senior Director Head for the Plasma Derived Therapies Business Unit, Plasma Innovation Hub (iHUB)
  • Eric Braun, Chief Innovation Officer, Tech Innovation, and Strategy Consultant, Asian Women for Health and Velocity Innovation
  • Jodie Brinkerhoff, Vice President of Innovation, Dallas Fort Worth Airport
  • Bob Czechowicz, Senior Director of Innovation, GS1 US
  • Robin Gissing, Deputy Chair, University of West London’s Computing Industry Consultative Committee
  • Michal Preminger, Head of Innovation, East North America, Johnson & Johnson Innovation
  • Anne Roberts-Smith, Section Supervisor and Innovation Program Janney Grants Lead, The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory
  • Djuana Stoakley, Strategic Design Lead, Entergy
  • Emily Stuis, GTM Innovation Agenda and Sourcing Lead, Pfizer
  • Chris Varley, Principal of GoodYear Ventures, The GoodYear Tire and Rubber Company