IIN Innovation Awards

The IIN Innovation Awards celebrate advances in research, technology commercialization and education across the IIN’s 15 hubs. Faculty awards will be presented in multiple categories, and student awards will be given in an open competition.


Applications and nominations are now open for the 2022 awards.

Important dates

IIN Innovation Awards

Aug. 17, 2022
3 p.m.
Orr Building, Illinois State Fairgrounds

Application/Nomination deadline

Aug. 1, 2022

Innovation Awards

The 2022 IIN Innovation Awards will be presented on Wednesday, Aug. 17, at 3 p.m. on the Orr Building’s main stage at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. The event will be part of the Tech Prairie STEAM Expo being held in the Orr Building from Aug. 17-21.

All applications and nominations must be submitted by midnight on Aug. 1, 2022. Finalists will be announced on Aug. 10, 2022. Award recipients will be asked to provide a brief explanation of their innovation at the award event on Aug. 17.

Awards will be given to faculty, scientists, and staff employed by the IIN hubs in five different categories, along with an open category for IIN student innovators.

Award categories


  • Computing and data
  • Environment and water
  • Food and agriculture
  • Health and wellness
  • Open

IIN member institution students

  • All topics

High school students

  • All topics

Judging Rubric

Submissions will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Novelty – 30%
  • Impact on society & field – 30%
  • Feasibility – 30%
  • Support of IIN principles – 10%

Non-confidential and public disclosure

Information provided in the application may not be held in confidence and is not protected by a confidentiality agreement.  Application details will be shared with a panel of judges. Please provide only information you are comfortable sharing with the public.  Further, intellectual property information provided may or may not meet public disclosure thresholds.

More about public disclosures from USPTO


Bruce Sommer

2021 IIN Innovation Award winners

Environment & Water Category
Kenneth B. Anderson, director of the Advanced Coal and Energy Research Center and professor of geochemistry, Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Food & Agriculture Category
Girish Chowdhary, director of the Distributed Autonomous Systems Laboratory and Donald Biggar Willet Faculty Fellow at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), and co-founder and chief technology officer of EarthSense

Health & Wellness Category
Aadeel Akhtar, founder of PSYONIC

Elizabeth Gaillard, professor of chemistry and biological sciences, Northern Illinois University

Teams (Other Category)
SHIELD – Target, Test, Tell, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Student Innovator of the Year
Alex Kosyakov, UIUC
Nelson Fernandes, SIUC

Learn more about all the recipients here.