The Arizona Technology Council and the Arizona Commerce Authority announced Individual Award winners, Company Award finalists and Student and Teacher Awards for the 2016 Governor’s Celebration of Innovation Awards (GCOI) presented by Avnet.

The awards honor the visionaries of Arizona’s technology ecosystem whose passion and dedication energize Arizona’s rapidly growing technology community.

“We were pleased to receive such a strong group of applicants and congratulate this year’s finalists and winners on their exceptional contributions to Arizona’s technology sector,” said Steven G. Zylstra, president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council. “These awards represent brilliant, dedicated individuals and companies who work hard to ensure we are building an Arizona economy based on innovation.”

“The 2016 GCOI winners and finalists are representative of the amazing talent and quality of advanced technology companies we have here in Arizona,” said Sandra Watson, Arizona Commerce Authority president and CEO. “We truly appreciate the tremendous contributions they have made in advancing our state’s innovation ecosystem and congratulate all of the winners and finalists on this well-deserved honor.”

The Individual/Company Award winners are:

  • William F. McWhortor Community Service Leader of the Year: Tomas Gorny, CEO, Nextiva, Scottsdale
  • Ed Denison Business Leader of the Year: Brian Mueller, president and CEO, Grand Canyon University, Phoenix
  • Pioneering: Intel, Chandler
  • Judges Award: WebPT, Phoenix

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

  • Innovator of the Year – Start-Up Company: Allbound, Phoenix; Life365, Peoria
  • Innovator of the Year – Small Company: AB&R (American Barcode and RFID), Phoenix; AGM Container Controls, Tucson; SimpleView, Tucson
  • Innovator of the Year – Large Company: Avnet, Inc., Phoenix; Facility Source, Phoenix; Nextiva, Scottsdale
  • Innovator of the Year – Academia: Arizona State University Biodesign Institute, Tempe; University of Arizona Eller College of Management, Tucson; University of Arizona West Center, 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.

Teacher of the Year Award Winner:

  • Christine Sapio, Coconino High School, Flagstaff

Teacher Honorable Mentions:

  • Marni Landry, Paradise Valley High School, Phoenix
  • Pradip C Misra, Bagdad High School, Bagdad

Future Innovators of the Year Award Winners:

  • Kailash Raman, Sandra Day O’Connor High School, Phoenix
  • Rahul Ramesh, Hamilton High School, Chandler
  • Aakanksha Saxena, Desert Mountain High School, Scottsdale
  • McKenna Loop, Arizona College Preparatory- Erie, Chandler

Future Innovators of the Year Honorable Mentions:

  • Simon Shen, Desert Vista High School, Phoenix
  • Akshata Rudrapatna, Hamilton High School, Chandler

GCOI will be held on Thursday, November 10, 2016 at the Phoenix Convention Center, 100 N. Third Street, in the West Building from 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. The theme of this year’s event is “Inspiring Growth.”

Bringing over 1,000 of Arizona’s finest technologists and business leaders under one roof to celebrate the state’s technology innovation, the GCOI will consist of a theatre-style awards program followed by specialty desserts and live music. The event will also feature the Technology Showcase of over 50 Arizona companies exhibiting. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online at

Winners and finalists were evaluated and chosen by the following selection committee of experts independent of the Council:

  • Susan Engle, Avnet
  • James Goulka, Arizona Tech Investors
  • Doug Hockstad, Tech Launch Arizona
  • William Loux, Arizona Technology Enterprises
  • Eric Miller, Phoenix Analysis Design Technologies
  • Mary O’Reilly, PhD, CEM Science Foundation Arizona
  • Bob Rasmussen, Honeywell Aerospace