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Winners and Finalists for the 2019 Governor's Celebration of Innovation Awards Announced by Arizona Technology Council and Arizona Commerce Authority
[September 17, 2019]

Winners and Finalists for the 2019 Governor's Celebration of Innovation Awards Announced by Arizona Technology Council and Arizona Commerce Authority


Honoring the leaders and visionaries whose body of work contribute to the growth and prosperity of Arizona's technology sector, the Arizona Technology Council and the Arizona Commerce Authority have announced winners of individual, Future Innovators of the Year and Teacher of the Year awards, as well as company award finalists for the 2019 Governor's Celebration of Innovation Awards (GCOI) presented by Avnet, Inc. The winners will be honored during GCOI, which will take place 4 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 24, at the Phoenix Convention Center, 100 N. Third St., West Building, Third Floor.

"The honorees at GCOI represent the greatest advocates, facilitators and contributors to our education and innovation ecosystem," said Steven G. Zylstra, president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council. "As we continue to expand our portfolio of world-class technology firms and promising startups, the competition for these awards gets tougher. The companies and leaders on this list are truly the best and brightest in Arizona, and we look forward to recognizing them."

"The winners and finalists selected for GCOI 2019 have demonstrated incredible talent and ingenuity in the technology sector," said Sandra Watson, president & CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. "Their accomplishments have contributed greatly to Arizona's reputation as a leading global hub for innovation. We thank each of them for their contributions to Arizona and congratulate them on their success!"

GCOI will consist of a strolling dinner and Tech Showcase followed by a theatre-style awards program. The Tech Showcase will include more than 50 companies showcasing their innovations, culture and future in Arizona. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online at www.aztechcouncil.org/event/gcoi2019.

The individual award winners ae:



  • Ed Denison Business Leader of the Year: Fletcher McCusker, CEO, UAVenture Capital, Tucson
  • Judges Award: Qwick, Scottsdale

One company in each of the following categories will be announced as the winner at the GCOI event:

  • Innovator of the Year, Start-Up Company: Emagine Solutions Technology, Tucson; FreeFall Aerospace, Inc., Tucson; Qwick, Scottsdale
  • Innovator of the Year, Small Company: AdviNOW Medical, Inc., Scottsdale; Prime Solutions Group, Inc., Goodyear; World View Enterprises, Inc., Tucson
  • Innovator of the Year, Large Company: AgJunction Inc., Scottsdale; Choice Hotels, Phoenix; Truyo, Chandler
  • Innovator of the Year Award - Academia: The Center for Innovation in Brain Science, The University of Arizona (UofA), Tucson; Gusto - Chris Walker, UofA, Tucson; Dr. Louise Heckler, research lead for UofA's lab studying highly selective Nox4 small molecule inhibitors for the treatment of fibrotic disorders, Tucson; UofA College of Medicine, Phoenix
  • Transformational Leadership Award: Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance, Scottsdale; Northwest Valley Connect, Surprise; Walbar LLC (DBA Walbar Engine Components), Chandler; Yuma Regional Medical Center, Yuma

The individual company award winners and finalists were evaluated and chosen by the following selection committee of experts independent of the Council:


  • James Goulka, Arizona Tech Investors
  • Dave Higgins, Benchmark
  • Doug Hockstad, Tech Launch Arizona
  • Eric Miller (News - Alert), PADT
  • Mary O'Reilly, PhD, CEM, Flinn Foundation
  • Chuck Vermillion, AccountabilIT
  • David Lee, MSS Business Transformation Advisory

The Future Innovators of the Year award winners represent the best of the best of the Arizona Engineering and Science Fair (grades 9-12) for 2019. Each of the winning students will receive a $1,000 scholarship to further enhance his or her education, and the winning teacher will receive a $1,000 cash award.

Future Innovators of the Year Award Winners:

  • Ella Wang, BASIS Chandler High School, Chandler
  • Emily Ignatoff, Tanque Verde High School, Tucson
  • Sky Harper, Navajo Preparatory School, Farmington, NM
  • Yutan Zhang, BASIS Scottsdale High School, Scottsdale

Future Innovators of the Year Honorable Mentions:

  • Hannah Guan and Maghna Ramesh, Hamilton High School, Chandler
  • Matthew Fosdick, Empire High School, Tucson

Teacher of the Year Award Winner:

  • Katy Gazda, Red Mountain High School, Mesa

Teacher Honorable Mention:

  • Oguz Guvenc, Sonoran Science Academy - Davis-Monthan, Tucson

The Future Innovators and Teacher of the Year award winners were evaluated and chosen by a selection committee independent of the Council, including members of the Arizona Council of Engineering and Scientific Associations (ACESA). ACESA supports, promotes and coordinates programs and activities of the engineering and science associations within the state of Arizona through facilitated communication and leadership.

About the Arizona Technology Council

The Arizona Technology Council (AZTC) 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 Council offers numerous events, educational forums and business conferences that bring together leaders, visionaries, and community members 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 www.aztechcouncil.org and follow AZTC on Twitter (News - Alert) at @aztechcouncil.

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 azcommerce.com and follow the ACA on Twitter at @azcommerce.


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