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Driving Innovation and Growth
Press Release
April 11, 2017

PayYourSelfie Wins 2017 Innovation Competition 
Companies RWEDI Solutions, Inc. and Switched Source Named Runners-Up

CHICAGO – Global Midwest Alliance today announced that PayYourSelfie is the winner of the 2017 Innovation Competition, presented by Polsinelli. Chicago-based PayYourSelfie is a visual survey company that hastens the insight-to-innovation cycle for brands and agencies. 

The competition was held on April 4 during the Alliance's annual corporate venturing program, Corporate Venture Embraces Accelerators, which featured the 8th Annual Innovation Competition showcase, presented by Polsinelli.  RWEDI Solutions, Inc., based in Morris, Illinois, and Switched Source, based in Palos Heights, IL, were the runners-up in the competition.

"Winning the Innovation Competition, presented by Polsinelli, is a tremendous honor for our team," said Michelle Smyth, Pay Your Selfie's CEO. "Our participation allowed us to articulate how and why our ethnographic survey method hastens the innovation process, and it was validating to be recognized by the panel of seasoned judges. It also provided valuable opportunities to connect with other respected finalists and corporate innovation leaders. We intend to build upon the momentum as we strive to visually discover the people who comprise our percents."

2017 Innovation Competition winners L to R:  Head Judge, John Banta, Blue Cross Blue Shield Venture Partners; Third Place Winner, Charles Murray, President, Switched Source; Second Place Winner, Jessica Linville, CEO and Founder, RWEDI Solutions, Inc.; and First Place Winner, Michelle Smyth, CEO and Founder, PayYourSelfie, Inc., being congratulated by Adam Weiss, Shareholder, Polsinelli.
PayYourSelfie, Inc., based in Chicago, Illinois, is a visual survey company that hastens the insight-to-innovation cycle for brands and agencies. Its ethnographic "consumer pulse" surveys reveal how real people live, work and play.  Clients include P&G, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Freshii, SkinnyPop, Goose Island Beer and Yale Center for Consumer Insights.  PayYourSelfie's innovative method has been profiled by hundreds of media, including the New York Times, Harvard Business Review and Fortune. 

The first runner-up, RWEDI Solutions, Inc., based in Morris, Illinois, is commercializing the novel RWEDI Water system developed at Argonne National Laboratory. RWEDI Solutions is an energy efficient, low cost, robust water purification technology helping to address freshwater stress and scarcity in Southwestern US. The RWEDI water system offers cooling tower owners and operators a 25% reduction in operating costs through a 20% reduction in makeup water use, a 40% reduction in chemical use and a reduction in maintenance costs. The business model utilizes water service treatment companies as sales partners to gain adoption of the technology.

Second runner-up, Switched Source, based in Palos Heights, Illinois, is commercializing power electronics based distribution automation solutions for electrical distribution utilities. Switched Source's core technology has been brought to prototype stage with support from an ARPA-E grant. This technology has the capability to increase the efficiency and reliability of the electrical distribution system, while enhancing the grid's ability to support distributed renewable generation.

Rounding out the top five competition finalists were two additional companies: 

Agribody Technologies, Inc., based in San Diego, California, will apply a proven solution to food-sourcing problems due to ever-growing population and decreasing farmland availability by significantly increasing crop yields. ATI's patented gene technology also delays onset of plant senescence, while increasing resistance to diseases and sub-lethal stresses such as drought, heat, cold, salt, low nutrients and crowding.  

Applied Particle Technology, based in St. Louis, Missouri, is developing the world's first intelligent air sterilization system for commercial HVAC systems in hospitals and clean rooms. This system is based on a patented photoionization enhanced air purification system which is capable of removing particles pathogens and odors in a single step. APT was founded by world-class PhD scientists in aerosols and air quality and is currently in the prototype development stage. APT has received significant non-dilutive funding through winning Arch Grants, the Global Impact Awards, and NSF Phase I STTR grant funding.

The 8th Annual Innovation Competition, presented by Polsinelli, is a preeminent venue for entrepreneurs to present venture-ready business ideas to potential investors. Inventors submit their products, services or processes to a qualified panel of experts—competing not only for a cash prize and a credit of $10,000 to be applied toward corporate review and transaction legal services from Polsinelli, but also for opportunities to explore licensing and funding, network with investors and help their ideas become reality.  

Entries in the competition were required to provide solutions to global challenges in such areas as renewable and alternative energy, infrastructure and community, food and agriculture, manufacturing and industrial, water, logistics and sustainable distribution. Those solutions must offer competitive returns for investors and customers. Products, services and processes eligible for entry must improve and promote the productive and responsible use of natural resources; reduce or eliminate negative ecological impact; and provide superior performance at lower costs compared to other approaches.  

The 8th Annual Innovation Competition is presented by the Global Midwest Alliance and sponsored by the law firm of Polsinelli.

About Our Sponsors
Polsinelli is an Am Law 100 firm with more than 800 attorneys in 20 offices, serving corporations, institutions, and entrepreneurs nationally. Recently ranked #17* for client service excellence among firms servicing Fortune 500 clients, the firm has risen more than 50 spots in Am Law's annual firm ranking over the past five years. Polsinelli attorneys provide practical legal counsel infused with business insight, and focus on health care, financial services, real estate, intellectual property, mid-market corporate, labor and employment, and business litigation. Polsinelli attorneys have depth of experience in 100 service areas and 70 industries.The firm can be found at Polsinelli PC, Polsinelli LLP in California. *2017 BTI Client Service A-Team Report.

Global Midwest Alliance is a business-led, region-wide, not-for-profit education organization dedicated to transforming the Midwest into an internationally recognized leader in innovation and business growth. The Alliance aligns and integrates resources throughout the Midwest helping businesses to grow by leveraging existing resources to develop new products and find customers throughout the world. The Alliance is the Private Sector Liaison Office for the World Bank and a member of Global CONNECT. Through these and other affiliations, the Alliance facilitates access to global business opportunities for Midwest business. The Alliance offers educational opportunities through a variety of programs and resources designed to promote innovation, technology development and access to global opportunities in the clean technology, energy, food, logistics, manufacturing and water industries. For more information, visit

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