Four East Valley companies and one executive have been presented innovation awards by Gov. Janet Napolitano in recognition of their products and contributions to their communities.
“It is imperative that we continue to not only encourage and nurture technological and business innovation, but also to acknowledge those accomplishments that have already produced concrete results for our state,” Napolitano said.
The Pioneering Innovation Award went to Intel Corp. for its massive investments in Chandler and its community involvement. The company employs 9,500 people at three Chandler plants, is planning a $2 billion upgrade of its Fab 12 fabricating plant to increase manufacturing capacity for its state-of-the-art microprocessors.
Among Intel's community programs are support for five computer clubhouses where young people learn about computers and design their own software. Also 1,700 Intel employees volunteered their time at 180 Arizona schools last year, and the Intel Foundation contributed $316,000 for programs at those schools.
Intel won the award because it “has become a pioneer locally with its innovative products and its forward-thinking corporate citizenship programs,” Napolitano said. James D. Armstrong, chairman of Scottsdale-based JDA Software Group, won the Ed Denison Business Leader of the Year Award for his individual contributions to Arizona's technology industry.
JDA, which produces software for retailers, is a $219 million-a-year company with 4,800 clients in 60 countries. Armstrong co-founded the company in 1978 in Canada and relocated to the Valley in 1987. “Jim has helped put Phoenix on the map as a worldwide center of excellence for retail supply chain technology,” said Todd Bankofier, president of the Arizona Technology Council, which co-hosted the awards ceremony.
The award also recognized Armstrong's involvement in the community through the Armstrong Family Foundation, a $15 million charitable corporation that is funded through donations by Armstrong and his wife, Jo-Ann Armstrong. The foundation, established in 1996, donates an average of $715,000 a year to local nonprofit organizations such as the Salvation Army and Rancho Feliz and maintains a scholarship program at Arizona State University.
“Considering that I launched my career a half-mile under ground in a uranium mine in northern Canada some 30 years ago, I am pleased that I had the good sense to change careers,” Armstrong said. Three Innovator of the Year awards went to East Valley-based companies. In the service category, Scottsdale-based TeleSpectra was cited for providing wireless broadband access to small Arizona towns.
In the small company category, PatchLink Corp., also of Scottsdale, was honored for its PatchLink Update product that scans computer networks and identifies and “patches” security holes. In the start-up category, Mesa-based Three Rivers Holdings LLC was honored for its work with researchers throughout the country to design prototypes of medical rehabilitation products and bring them to market through exclusive licensing agreements.
Among the products developed by Three Rivers are an exercise system for wheelchair users with built-in entertainment and a super-compact wheelchair for easy access to confined spaces such as airplanes. The other awards were given to Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson for work on software for the Tomahawk missile and Richard Mallery, partner in the Phoenix law firm of Snell & Wilmer, for his efforts to bring the Translational Genomics Research Institute to Arizona.
The governor also honored two East Valley high school students as future innovators based on scientific research projects. They were Denver Smith, senior at Hamilton High School in Chandler; and Dean Thongkham, senior at Dobson High School in Mesa.