Innovation Awards

How a Stevie® Awards Winner Turns Carbon Into Plastic

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Mar 05, 2014 @ 11:46 AM

Newlight Technologies, in Irvine, California USA won a Gold Stevie® Award for Most Innovative Company of the Year in the Company/Organization awards categories of The 2013 American Business Awards. (The deadline for The 2014 American Business Awards, the premier business awards in the USA, is March 26.  Get your Entry Kit here.)  We asked Mark Herrema, CEO of Newlight, to tell us about his company’s transition from concept to commercial viability.

NewlightThese days, the general consensus is that plastic is a bad thing: it’s made from oil; it generates carbon emissions; and it chokes our environment with pollution. Even bioplastics, which are derived from food crops like corn, are perceived as being only slightly less bad and perhaps generating less environmental damage.

But what if plastic could actually improve the environment? Can we imagine a world in which, the more plastic we make, the better the environment becomes?

Newlight Technologies was founded in 2003 with a simple mission: to pull carbon out of the air and use that carbon to produce high-performance, cost-effective, carbon-negative plastic. The company’s guiding philosophy then, as it is today, is that the most sustainable way to reverse climate change is to turn carbon emissions into materials that can out-compete existing oil-based materials on price, thereby creating a market-driven solution to reduce atmospheric carbon.

The Cost Challenge
Despite the conceptual simplicity of this founding principle, the science to make it a reality had never been achieved, despite decades of work.

The critical challenge was cost. Prior to Newlight, the cost of producing plastic from air-bound carbon was three times higher than the cost of producing plastic from oil—an economic non-starter. Newlight’s task was to invent technology to dramatically lower the cost of converting carbon emissions into plastic.

After many years of work, endless obstacles, and millions of dollars in research and development, the researchers at Newlight finally achieved a core breakthrough: an engineered biocatalyst able to produce plastic from carbon gas at extremely high yield—approximately nine times higher than anything that had been achieved previously.

With this breakthrough, Newlight’s process economics changed dramatically.

Today—ten years, ten patents, and $10 million after its founding—Newlight Technologies is proud to be the first company in the world to manufacture and sell carbon-negative plastic.  Their AirCarbon™ is a plastic that reduces the concentration of carbon in air, matches the performance of oil-based plastic, and can significantly out-compete oil-based plastic on price.

Growing Demand
In 2012, Newlight commenced selling carbon-negative plastics for the first time, generating the company’s first revenues from the sale of carbon-negative plastics.  In 2013, to meet growing demand, Newlight achieved a breakthrough milestone in scaling up the company's AirCarbon production technology to commercial scale at a multi-acre production site in California: a four-story facility with a multi-million pound per year nameplate production capacity, using air and captured methane-based carbon to produce AirCarbon. 

In November of 2013, furniture-maker KI introduced the first product made from AirCarbon to the market: the world's first carbon-negative chair made from the AirCarbon carbon-capture process.

With the commercial scale-up complete and product moving to market, demand for AirCarbon has grown dramatically, with over 12.5 million pounds of AirCarbon under executed letter of intent to purchase.  Newlight’s customers and product development partners include some of the largest manufacturers in the world—including multiple Fortune 500 companies and brand-name market leaders—making everything from chairs and containers to caps and bags, products that will actually reduce the amount of carbon in the air.

The Potential to be Momentous
On being presented with the Steve Award for Most Innovative Company, Mark Herrema, CEO and co-founder of Newlight, said: “After ten years of work to bring AirCarbon to market, we are honored and delighted to receive this award, which is a testament to the exceptional dedication and skill of our entire team."

Continued Mark: “We believe the impact of Newlight’s carbon-negative plastic has the potential to be momentous. With this material, we have a tool to capture carbon from the air, use that carbon to displace carbon that would otherwise come from oil, reduce the cost to produce plastics, and drive carbon capture on a market-driven basis. Our mission now is simple: to grow as quickly as we can.”

About Mark Herrema:
Since co-founding Newlight in 2003, Mark has grown the company from a scientific concept into a revenue-generating commercial enterprise. Newlight is capturing carbon that would otherwise be a part of the air to produce award-winning, carbon-negative plastics. Along the way, Mark has invented a range of greenhouse gas-to-plastic conversion technologies, receiving ten US and international patents while steering Newlight through over $10 million in private placement offerings; executing a range of strategic partnerships with brand-name market leaders; and leading the engineering, construction, and expansion of Newlight’s carbon-capture production platform.

Mark graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics and Political Theory, with additional work in Physics, Mathematics, and Chemistry.

About Newlight Technologies:
Newlight Technologies is a sustainable materials company dedicated to using carbon-capture technology to produce clean, high-performance materials that maintain performance, reduce cost, and displace oil with carbon that would otherwise become a part of the air.

Founded in 2003, Newlight has invented, patented, and commercialized AirCarbon™, a material made from air and captured carbon that can match the performance of oil-based plastics while out-competing on price, representing a market-driven solution to carbon capture.  AirCarbon is currently being used to manufacture furniture, bags, caps, and a variety of other products, with partners including Fortune 500 companies and brand-name market leaders.

In recognition of the company's technological and commercialization achievements, Newlight was named "Most Innovative Company of the Year" in 2013, and AirCarbon was named "Biomaterial of the Year" and  "Tech Innovation of the Year" in 2013.  Newlight also received a R&D 100 Award for AirCarbon in 2013 as "one of the 100 most technologically significant innovations of the year."

Tags: American business awards, stevie awards, innovation awards, newlight technologies, carbon emissions

5 Ways to Win Innovation Awards in The 2013 American Business Awards

Posted by Liz Dean on Wed, Apr 17, 2013 @ 02:53 PM

The 2013 American Business Awards, the premier business awards competition in the U.S.A., feature a wide selection of categories to recognize the achievements of innovative professionals working in web development, corporate communications, video production, app development, investor relations, and live events. (April 24 is the last day that late entries will be accepted with payment of a late fee per entry. If you haven't already done so, you can request your entry kit here and it will be emailed to you right away.)

The Stevie AwardsHere are five ways to win innovation awards in The 2013 American Business Awards:

  1. App Awards Categories
    These categories recognize excellence in apps for handheld and tablet devices, and for PCs, issued or updated since January 1, 2012.
  2. Annual Report Awards & Other Literature Categories
    These categories recognize excellence in annual reports, brochures, marketing and sales kits, house organs (corporate magazines), and other publications issued since January 1, 2012.
  3. Live Event Awards Categories
    These categories recognize excellence in live events staged since January 1, 2012.
  4. Video Awards Categories
    These categories recognize excellence in videos produced for a business- or work-related purpose that were first released or otherwise made public since January 1, 2012.
  5. Website Awards Categories
    These categories recognize excellence in web sites and blogs. There is no eligibility timeframe for these categories - it doesn't matter when the site or blog was first published.

If you have last minute questions, please don't hesitate to email us at or call us at + 1 703-547-8389.

Tags: app awards, live event awards, video awards, website awards, American business awards, innovation awards, annual report awards

How Innovation Awards Winner Increased Revenue by 240%

Posted by Liz Dean on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 @ 05:06 PM

Mondial Assistance USA, of Richmond, VA won a Stevie® Award for Business Innovation of the Year in the company awards categories of The 2011 American Business Awards, the premiere business awards program in the U.S.A. (The final entry deadline for the 2012 ABAs is April 25; request your entry kit today.) Here we look at how Mondial Assistance used emerging technology to streamline their onboarding process.

Mondial AssistanceIn 2010, Mondial Assistance USA, a global leader in specialized insurance and assistance services, decided to revamp their outdated onboarding system by launching a new online system.  The organization awards winner had one objective: to design and implement a dynamic white glove experience that was well-designed, efficient, and exceeded the expectations of new clients. The new system had to combine technical innovation with user friendliness.

Project Goals
The innovation awards winner had three goals in mind for their new Agency Onboarding system:

  • Decrease Time to Sell
    By streamlining the onboarding process, Mondial Assistance employees would be able to begin selling products almost immediately.
  • Increase Customer Satisfaction
    By improving the onboarding process, Mondial Assistance would be able to create and strengthen relationships with customers.
  • Decrease Internal Management Costs
    By streamlining the process, Mondial would be able to eliminate the paper trail and leverage technology innovation resulting in better use of employees’ time.

The innovation award winner implemented their new Agency Onboarding system in two phases.

In phase one, the company:

  • Reorganized past processes to reduce the number of departments needed,
  • Digitalized all documents, and
  • Began an email campaign for its' customers.

In phase two, the company centered their project on creating an easy onboarding experience for the customer. Phase two also allowed for account numbers, W9 tax forms, and customized brochures to be produced automatically.

In less than three months, Mondial Assistance saw:

  • 24.7% growth in the number of agencies onboarded over the same timeframe from the prior year;
  • 200% growth in the number of agencies selling at least one policy; and
  • 240% growth in generated revenue.

About Mondial Assistance USA
Mondial Assistance USA is a global leader in specialty insurance and emergency assistance services and is part of the Allianz family of companies. Mondial Assistance offers a broad portfolio of insurance, retirement, assistance services and asset management products and services. Four percent of the world’s population are served by Mondial Assistance businesses around the globe. For more information please visit:

Tags: American business awards, innovation award, innovation awards, Mondial Assistance USA, technical innovation, company awards, organization awards, technology innovation, emerging technology

6 Innovation Awards in The 2012 American Business Awards

Posted by Liz Dean on Mon, Mar 26, 2012 @ 12:43 PM

As the entry deadline for The 2012 American Business Awards approaches on Wednesday, March 28 we'd like to highlight several innovation awards categories that may be of interest to your organization. If you haven't already received your entry kit for The 2012 American Business Awards, the premier business awards program in the U.S.A., you can request your entry kit here and you will receive it right away.

Our innovation award categories include:The Stevie Awards

  1. Most Innovative Company of the Year
    Recognizing overall achievement in product and/or marketing, sales, manufacturing, management, etc. innovation.
  2. Most Innovative Tech Company of the Year
    Recognizing overall achievement in product and/or marketing, sales, manufacturing, management, etc. innovation.
  3. Best New Tech Company of the Year
    Recognizing companies that began operations since January 1 2010. 
  4. Fastest-Growing Tech Company of the Year
    Recognizing outstanding revenue growth since the beginning of 2011 over 2010.
  5. Business Innovation of the Year
    Recognizing singular innovations in product and/or marketing, sales, manufacturing, management, etc., by an organization or an individual.
  6. Tech Innovation of the Year
    Recognizing singular innovations in technology, new products, etc., by an organization or an individual.

All entries in these categories require an essay of up to 500 words describing the nominated organization's achievements since January 1 2011, a biography of the leader(s) of the nominated organization of up to 100 words, and an optional (but highly recommended) inclusion of a collection of supporting files and web addresses that you may upload to our server to support your entry and provide more background information to the judges.

If you want to showcase your organization's innovative technology, the 2012 ABAs also have several award categories that highlight emerging technology including:

Not going to make the March 28 deadline? Don't panic, entries can still be submitted through the final deadline of April 25 with a late fee of $35.00.

Tags: business awards, app awards, website awards, American business awards, innovation award, innovation awards, innovative technology, it awards, new product awards, tech awards, emerging technology

How an Innovation Awards Winner Is Putting America Back to Work

Posted by Liz Dean on Mon, Jan 09, 2012 @ 12:59 PM

RiseSmart, Inc., in San Jose, California, was named Most Innovative Company of the Year (up to 100 employees - all other industries) in The 2011 American Business Awards. (Entries to The 2012 American Business Awards are now being accepted. Request your entry kit and it will be emailed to you right away.)  See how RiseSmart stands out from the competition.

What are outplacement services and why do they matter?
Outplacement services are a series of services offered to employees by employers when employment setbacks occur. Traditionally, outplacement services have been inherently low-tech, simply assisting companies with downsizing events and providing office space, grief counseling, and on-site group seminars to laid-off workers.  As the U.S. unemployment rate rose between 2008 and 2010, the inefficiencies of traditional outplacement services became apparent.

In a 2009 front-page story, “Outplacement Firms Struggle to Do Job,” The Wall Street Journal reported that traditional outplacement support packages “offer little value” to workers and leave many feeling dissatisfied.  With home computer access now so common, workers have little interest in setting up shop in an outplacement provider’s office space to conduct their job search.

RiseSmart has brought a new approach to the $3 billion industry by revolutionizing outplacement services through a combination of traditional services and use of technology. Through these new strategies, RiseSmart can aggressively focus on helping employees get what they need most: a new job.

Unprecedented Results
Sanjay SatheRiseSmart is helping to put America back to work by providing next-generation outplacement solutions to transitioning employees. The company combines a sophisticated technology with consulting services to not only help employers with their workforce strategies, but to help displaced employees with their career strategies.

“RiseSmart’s momentum continues, thanks to the passion and dedication of our entire team,” said Sanjay Sathe, founder and CEO of RiseSmart. “[The Stevie Award] is yet more evidence that we have disrupted the U.S. outplacement industry once and for all — delivering unprecedented results to employers and their transitioning workers.”

Transition Concierge
RiseSmart has injected the power of its proprietary, cloud-based technology and service platform into a market that had been dominated by brick-and-mortar business models. Its Transition Concierge outplacement solution, launched in 2008, has turned the outplacement industry on its head.

RiseSmart’s affordable, cutting-edge approach uses a web-based portal application that provides participants with personalized, relevant job leads, articles, blog posts, and other individualized content to help them find a job quickly. Every participant is assigned a highly trained, experienced Transition Specialist, who works to assist in each unique job search. With the new combination of support, RiseSmart is successfully placing individuals in new jobs 50 percent faster than the national average.

Those kinds of numbers have helped RiseSmart achieve some of the highest customer satisfaction scores in the industry. The company has enjoyed 100 percent customer retention to date. And it’s not surprising that RiseSmart is now among the fastest-growing outplacement companies in the United States.

Saving Money for Businesses
Because Transition Concierge participants find jobs so much faster, RiseSmart is helping employers save money in the form of reduced severance payments, unemployment taxes, and legal costs. RiseSmart is the first choice for organizations where individual needs and personal attention to both the corporation and the employee come first. More than a dozen Fortune 500 companies have switched from traditional outplacement firms to RiseSmart.

The Wall Street Journal has highlighted RiseSmart as a new kind of outplacement firm for Fortune 500 companies—one focused on results. Business Week touts the RiseSmart methodology as making “a lot of sense;” and the San Jose Mercury News says: “RiseSmart typifies the valley's knack for using technology to disrupt standard business practices.”

Time for a New Movie?
If all this is making you think of the movie “Up In The Air,” The Wall Street Journal thought so, too, and commented on it in a Venture Capital Dispatch blog.
Says Sathe: “The story of transition consultants working with employees to help them find new jobs is often an uplifting and inspiring one. Maybe that can be the story told in ‘Up In The Air 2.’”

About Sanjay Sathe:
Sanjay founded RiseSmart in 2006 after spending more than two decades in the management field leading successful sales and marketing organizations nationally and internationally. Prior to RiseSmart, Sanjay served as vice president for enterprise data management for Sabre Holdings as well as served as vice president of marketing for Brierley & Partners. Through his roles as vice president, Sanjay has gained a strong background in product marketing, CRM, loyalty programs, branding, marketing communications, public relations and strategic alliance initiatives across the telecommunications, banking, airline and technology sectors. By combining his professional background and entrepreneurial spirit, Sanjay has successfully transformed the outplacement services industry. 

About RiseSmart:
RiseSmart is the leading provider of next-generation outplacement solutions. The company leverages a cloud-based technology platform, proven methodologies, and one-on-one support to help employers with their workforce strategies, and displaced employees with their career strategies. RiseSmart drives significant ROI to organizations by offering affordable pricing while reducing unemployment insurance taxes and severance costs. For more information, visit

Tags: business awards, American business awards, stevie awards, innovation awards, Sanjay Sathe, Risesmart

Innovation Awards Entrepreneurs in Africa: Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Thu, Dec 01, 2011 @ 01:33 PM

Meltwater Group in San Francisco, California, USA, received the Stevie Award for Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year in The 2011 American Business Awards for the company’s work encouraging and fostering Ghanaian entrepreneurial talent. The 2012 American Business Awards is now open for entries - get your entry kit - and will include the new Best of the ABA Awards. The second early-bird entry deadline is December 14.

Jorn LyseggenMeltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) is the brainchild of Jorn Lyseggen, the founder and CEO of the Meltwater Group. MEST was founded in 2007 in Accra, Ghana, by Meltwater Group’s nonprofit arm, the Meltwater Foundation.

As one of the least developed continents in the world, Africa is home to many stagnant economies where highly educated individuals have few job opportunities. Jorn, however, recognized this as an exceptional opportunity to transfer Meltwater’s knowledge and experience beyond the company walls and into the global community.

Entrepreneurs in Training
MEST is a non-profit, three-phase, entrepreneurial training program that provides training and mentoring to young African entrepreneurs aspiring to launch new, Ghana-based software companies. “Entrepreneurs in Training” (EITs) are selected through a comprehensive interview process by a panel of successful global entrepreneurs.

Upon selection, the EITs begin Phase One, a rigorous, two-year training course.

Those EITs with business ideas that are deemed to be viable then move on to Phase Two—Incubation—where graduates from the training program are given an opportunity to bring their business ideas to life through seed funding, access to advisors, and office space.

Finally, in Phase Three, the Meltwater Foundation and its network of experienced mentors and advisors provide assistance for companies that emerge from the MEST Incubator.

One of MEST’s biggest accomplishments is the burgeoning success of the current students and their companies, which include RetailTower, Nandi Mobile, Streemio, and Leti Games. In some cases these companies are utilizing corporate partnerships with retailers, telecommunications companies, or banks to distribute solutions to the market.

Success Story
One specific success story is that of Wesley Kirinya and Eyram Tawia. Wesley and Eyram created Leti Games, which through MEST’s guidance and support became Africa’s first commercial contribution to the multibillion-dollar computer gaming industry. MEST awarded the company $100,000 in seed financing that turned it from an idea into a functioning business. It's first game, iWarrior, is available for download on iTunes.

Significant Accomplishment
The success of MEST and its students is made even more significant when taking the Ghanaian economy into consideration. Prospective Ghanaian entrepreneurs face an uncertain marketplace with little economic or political stability. Last year it was reported that Ghana dropped in the ranks relating to the ease of doing business, falling to 95 among the 183 economies and to 113 for ease of obtaining credit.

A Bright Future
With young Ghanaians constituting over 40% of the country’s population, the potential impact that MEST could have on the country as a whole is immense. MEST was a challenging undertaking. It was the first program of its kind in Africa, and there is still no similar program in this part of the world helpting guide potential software entrepreneurs. The sophistication of the technology, ideas, and ultimate success of companies such as Leti Games are a testament not just to the success of the MEST program, but also to the promise of further innovations that will emerge from Africa in the future.

About Jorn Lyseggen
In 2001, with only $15,000, Jorn founded Meltwater News, a business-to-business media search engine company offering business-intelligence services. That company has now grown into the Meltwater Group. As CEO, Jorn leads the expansion of Meltwater with new ventures in the Software as a Service (SaaS) market. Jorn also founded the non-profit Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), designed to provide training and mentoring to young African entrepreneurs aspiring to launch new, Ghana-based software companies.

A Norwegian entrepreneur and patent holder with four start-ups, Jorn has two trade sales and one IPO to his credit. The most rewarding aspect of Jorn's career continues to be helping young people develop into confident and capable managers.

Jorn earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Bergen Ingeniorhogskole in Norway, and a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering, with specialization in digital signal processing and artificial intelligence, from Iowa State University.  He also studied entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School. Jorn and his family now live in Palo Alto, California.

About The Meltwater Group
The Meltwater Group is a privately held software company founded in Norway in 2001. It currently serves more than 20,000 clients through 57 offices located across North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Meltwater is committed to challenging existing business models by introducing disruptive technologies.​ The Meltwater Group delivers B2B solutions based on search engine technology, cloud computing, and search engine marketing. For more information, please visit

Tags: American business awards, stevie awards, ABAs, innovation awards, csr awards