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Innovators and Leaders in the Science and Technology Community Celebrated at the Arizona Technology Council's 2018 Governor's Celebration of Innovation
[November 08, 2018]

Innovators and Leaders in the Science and Technology Community Celebrated at the Arizona Technology Council's 2018 Governor's Celebration of Innovation

The Arizona Technology Council, in conjunction with the Arizona Commerce Authority, today announced the winners of the 2018 Governor's Celebration of Innovation (GCOI) Awards. Leaders and innovators in Arizona's booming technology community were celebrated at a prestigious gala attended by the top companies and influencers in the state.

"As our economy continues to boom, innovation becomes more important than ever," said Steven G. Zylstra, president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council. "It is essential that we celebrate the creative spirit of Arizona by recognizing and honoring the state's technology leaders and up-and-comers. We congratulate all the winners and extend our thanks for their part in advancing Arizona as a top-tier technology state."

The winners in their respective categories are:

Company Award Winners

  • Innovator of the Year - Start-Up Company: BlackBar Engineering, Tucson, AZ
  • Innovator of the Year - Small Company: CampusLogic, Chandler, AZ
  • Innovator of the Year - Large Company: Benchmark, Phoenix, AZ
  • Innovator of the Year - Academia: Dr. Laurence Hurley, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Chairman's Award

Selected at the discretion of the Arizona Technology Council's leadership, the Chairmans Award was presented to Sandra Watson, president and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority. Watson brings more than 20 years of economic development leadership experience to Arizona. She and her teams have successfully attracted to Arizona more than 750 companies that have committed to invest nearly $10 billion in capital and create more than 125,000 jobs. Watson is a collaborative leader who excels in strategic thinking and relationship building. She worked tirelessly to implement the new vision for the Arizona Commerce Authority, providing invaluable leadership and stability during its transition from the Department of Commerce into one of the nation's first public-private partnerships focused on economic development.

Previously announced winners that were also honored at the event include:

Individual/Company Award Winners

  • AccountabilIT Lifetime Achievement Award: Jim Armstrong, managing partner, Canal Partners
  • Ed Denison Business Leader of the Year: Heidi Jannenga, WebPT, Phoenix, AZ
  • Judges Award: Al Maag, MaagCommPlus

Previously announced "Future Innovators" and "Teacher of the Year" award winners can be found here.

Previously announced Tech Champions Legislators can be found here.

"The companies and individuals honored tonight represent some of the best and brightest minds in Arizona, and we are fortunate to have them in our state," said Sandra Watson. "Their accomplishments demonstrate why Arizona is consistently recognized as a top market for quality of talent and leadership in innovation. Congratulations to each of the 2018 awardees!"

Winners and finalists were evaluated and chosen by a selection committee of experts independent of the Council that included:

  • Islamshah Amlani, Honeywell Aerospace
  • James Goulka, Arizona Tech Investors
  • Dave Higgins, Benchmark Electronics (News - Alert)
  • Doug Hockstad, Tech Launch Arizona
  • Eric Miller, PADT
  • Mary O'Reilly, Ph.D., Flinn Foundation
  • Chuck Vermillion, AccountabilIT

About the Arizona Technology Council

The Arizona Technology Council is Arizona's premier trade association for science and technology companies. Recognized as having a diverse professional business community, Council members work towards furthering the advancement of technology in Arizona through leadership, education, legislation and social action. The Arizona Technology Council offers numerous events, educational forums and business conferences that bring together leaders, managers, employees and visionaries to make an impact on the technology industry. These interactions contribute to the Council's culture of growing member businesses and transforming technology in Arizona. To become a member or to learn more about the Arizona Technology Council, please visit

About the Arizona Commerce Authority

The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) is the state's leading economic development organization with a streamlined mission to grow and strengthen Arizona's economy. The ACA uses a three-pronged approach to advance the overall economy: attract, expand, create - attract out-of-state companies to establish operations in Arizona; work with existing companies to expand their business in Arizona and beyond; and help entrepreneurs create new Arizona businesses in targeted industries. For more information, please visit and follow the ACA on Twitter (News - Alert) at @azcommerce.

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