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

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

The ABAs Introduce 18 Smartphone App Awards Categories

Posted by Liz Dean on Sun, Nov 27, 2011 @ 07:52 PM

The Stevie® Awards is introducing 18 new app awards categories honoring smartphone and tablet apps in The 2012 American Business Awards ℠. These app awards will recognize excellence in apps for handheld and tablet devices, and for PCs, issued or updated since January 1 2011. (Entries are now being accepted, request your entry kit here.)

The app awards will be considered in the following categories:

  1. Business/Government
  2. Education & Reference
  3. Entertainment
  4. Experimental & Innovation
  5. The Stevie AwardsGames
  6. Guides/Ratings/Reviews
  7. Integrated Mobile Experience
  8. Lifestyle
  9. Marketing
  10. Music
  11. News
  12. Professional Education
  13. Shopping
  14. Social
  15. Sports
  16. Training
  17. Travel
  18. Utilities & Services

Submissions for these categories should include:

a. An essay of up to 100 words describing the app's purpose and results to date. Include here the platforms your app supports.
b. The app itself, in the form of a demonstration video of up to three (3) minutes in length, or a URL to the app. In either case you must attach the demonstration video or the URL to your entry through our attachment/link uploading tool online.
c. Optionally, you may list creative and production credits for your app - a list of the people and organizations that contribute to its development.

All app awards will be presented at the ABA's new tech awards ceremony in San Francisco in September 2012. Learn more about the event.

Have a favorite smartphone or tablet app? Request an entry kit and nominate your favorite app!

Tags: business awards, app awards, website awards, stevie awards, innovation awards, web awards

How Diaper Rash Drove Innovation and New Product Award

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Fri, Feb 04, 2011 @ 03:11 PM

Tereson DupuyIf the Stevie Awards gave awards for best-named product of the year, “FuzziBunz” would be the winner hands down.  Instead, our judges named a new, one-size version of the patented FuzziBunz® pocket diaper Best New Product of the Year in the 2010 Stevie Awards for Women in Business.

Now referred to as the Mother of the Modern Cloth Diaper, Tereson Dupuy, CEO of Mother of Eden, invented FuzziBunz cloth diapers after her son suffered from chronic diaper rash; prior to her invention, nothing helped.  This determined mother founded a company to produce her patented cloth diapers and it is now a multi-million dollar industry.

Tereson has been featured in national newspapers and television, and is also a popular motivational speaker.  She is available to speak on the topics of women in business; accidental entrepreneurship (how Tereson created a product to solve a personal dilemma, and ended up with a highly successful company); and, of course, anything related to cloth diapers.

arrow spacer Read the Full Text of FuzziBunz's Stevie Award-winning Nomination...

Tags: stevie awards, tereson dupuy, product of the year, product awards, product award, fuzzibunz