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Edison Awards this April will focus on Apple, Intel, and other innovators: Moore About Business

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KAREN: For the third consecutive year, the Edison Awards, a global Innovation awards event, will be taking place at Caloosa Sound Convention Center and Amphitheater in downtown Fort Myers, April 19th through the 21st, where the event's namesake Thomas Edison wintered for almost 40 years. This year, more than 20 countries and more than 30 states will be represented at the event.

Today, I have the honor of speaking with Executive Director of the Edison Awards, Frank Bonafilia. I know that with the awards event is coming up quickly, you and your team are very busy these days, Frank, so thank you for carving out some time to be here.

FRANK: Happy to do so, very excited to be talking with you again, Karen, and be back in Southwest Florida this year for our third year.

KAREN: And we are very happy to have you back. So, for the benefit of our listeners, please share a little about the history and objective of the Edison Awards.

FRANK: So, the Edison Awards were started in 1987 and our a platform is one that recognizes, honors, and fosters innovation. We are essentially the Oscars of corporate innovation where we honor game changing new products and services. We'll have over 550 chief innovation officers from around the world, including Apple and Intel to Herbst Produkt, Babcock Ranch, Vantem housing and even Space milk. The Edison Awards is scheduled for April 19 through 21st and will be held at the Luminary Hotel in the Caloosa Sound Convention Center.

KAREN: How did the Edison Awards land in Fort Myers three years ago?

FRANK: That's a great story, and it just shows the power of the Edison Network. A steering committee member of ours, Clint Robinson, with Black and Veatch. Was at the mayor's conference and met former Mayor Henderson. We were invited to Fort Myers the weekend of the Edison Light Festival. We knew that weekend that we wanted to be part of the community. And continue the Edison legacies by bringing today's top innovation leaders to Fort Myers on an annual basis. So, really what we're doing is we're building a bridge from yesteryear into today's top innovation minds and companies and bringing them all back to Fort Myers.

KAREN: Wow. So, what do you see as a few of the highlights this year of the awards event, Frank?

FRANK: I can't tell you all of them, but I will start by saying the 2023 Edison Achievement Award honorees are Johnny Ive who was the chief design officer for Apple, created the iPhone, the iPad, the iMac. It's rare that he makes a public appearance, but he will be in Fort Myers. And Patrick Gelsinger, the CEO of Intel who is responsible for building the largest chip factory in the world with an investment of $100 billion into the Ohio or North American facility. Bringing chip production back to the US soil is very important to our national security, and Pat Gelsinger will be sharing his story with us. We're also expanding our exhibits, and we'll bring the second Lewis Latimer cohort back to Fort Myers this year.

KAREN: Wow, what a lineup. And I know that's not all. You've got lots of things up your sleeve I'm sure that I don't even know about.

FRANK: We are also very excited to be back and and you're right, Karen, that is just a small sample of everything that we'll be bringing to Fort Myers. We'll also be having exhibits of over 50 different new products. We'll be expanding our Community Day. And we'll certainly be more involved with the community as we always have been.

KAREN: That seems to increase every year. You're getting more and more involved with the community and I think that's so exciting to see.

FRANK: One addition this year is we'll be adding breakout sessions to allow for more networking and a focus on solving some of the complex challenges that we see in this region. And may have been solved in other places in the world. We'll be having several experts and we'll show the future of many of the industries and where they're moving to. And we'll also be handing out over 100 laptops to to students to help with their continued education in this changing world.

KAREN: Wow, that's fabulous. And that can be life changing for those students.

FRANK: We certainly hope so. Not only do we want it to be life changing, but we want to inspire them to be the next Edisons or the next Latimers.

KAREN: And were there any other additions or changes made to the event compared to last year that you'd like to share?

FRANK: Yes, Community day this year is Friday morning from 9 a.m., to 12 p.m. It will include open exhibits in a special demo at the new pavilion. We encourage high school students to attend and participate in the Charlotte Community Foundation, Young Edison Challenge Competition.

The nonprofit arm of the Edison Awards has secured a financial grant from the Gates Foundation, and as I mentioned, we'll be donating laptop computers to students this year who might have a difficult time getting their own computer. We encourage everyone to register today for the Community Day and that can be done at edisonawards.com.

KAREN: It's so exciting that you are doing more to include the local community because Southwest Florida needs to know and be connected with these unbelievable global innovation awards that we have right here in our backyard.

FRANK: We, in our board of the Edison Awards, think so as well, Karen. When we moved from New York City to Fort Myers, the value added for us was really to help support the community and see where we can continue to foster new innovators.

I wanted to add that we encourage people to register for the free Community Day at edisonawards.com. There will be exciting updates that I can't share with you today, but we'll be updating them up on our website during the next few weeks leading up to the April 2020 first event.

KAREN: I know I'll be looking at that website, so is there anything else you want to share today or have we covered it?

FRANK: I just would like to thank the city of Fort Myers and Lee County Economic Development for supporting us and all of our, I don't know if I can, mention them, but I would like to thank our local partners who without them, we would not be here today.

KAREN: And that is part of what this whole community effort is about, with making the Edison Awards at home in Fort Myers. So, thank you for sharing your time with us today, Frank. I truly appreciate it.

Publisher of SWFL Business Today