WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Four Kansas companies are in the running for the Coolest Innovation Made in Kansas. The winner will be announced next month.

The Kansas Chamber said the contest began with 40 products. Seventeen moved on to the first round of judging by completing a questionnaire. The final four are:

  • Apex Stages made at Apex Stages in Pittsburg
  • CoolView Technology made at Lee Aerospace in Wichita
  • T-Blocks made at Ronawk in Olathe
  • Spiral chutes made at Stevenson Company in Topeka

Performers, schools and event planners use Apex Stages for their value, safety, and looks. Also, the company says two to four people can set up any of its stages in an hour or less.

Apex Stage (Photo from Apex Stages via Kansas Chamber)

Lee Aerospace used CoolView Technology in its CoolView aircraft windows. It says the windows block 73% or more of the infrared ray or heat coming through airplane windows. The result is a cooler cabin. The company says that independent testing confirms that the windows reduce glare and pilot fatigue and preserve the aircraft’s interior.

CoolView Technology (Photo from Lee Aerospace via Kansas Chamber)

Ronawk says its T-Blocks (Tissue Blocks) allow scientists and researchers to grow cells in 3D instead of 2D. In addition, it says T-Blocks are more than 80 times more efficient for cell growth — helping scientists get faster results.

T-Blocks (Photo from Ronawk via Kansas Chamber)

Food manufacturers use the spiral chutes from Stevenson Company. The chutes allow delicate food items, like potato chips, to slide to their destination instead of dropping and breaking. In addition to the Coolest Innovation Contest, the company is also trying to win the Coolest Thing contest, in which anyone can vote by clicking on this link.

Spiral Chute (Photo from Stevenson Company via Kansas Chamber)

Coolest Innovation is a new category in the Coolest Thing Made In Kansas contest.

“Congratulations to our final four coolest innovations,” Brandie McPherson, Kansas Manufacturing Council executive director, said. “The KMC added this new contest category to highlight the many ways Kansas manufacturers research and develop new products and work to improve products to address crucial challenges. We look forward to learning more about the final four products.”

During the final round in early October, the companies will make in-person presentations about their innovations. Judges will be looking at each product’s impact on the challenge it solves and its impact on the business, its employees, and customers.

The judges for the 2022 contest are:

  • Lafe Bailey, senior vice president, Wenger Extrusion Group
  • Brian Barger, senior manager II, US Sourcing, Walmart
  • Cynthia Enright, partner, iValution
  • Jeremy Patterson, dean/executive director, WSU College of Innovation & Design/Office of Innovation & New Ventures
  • Tiffany Stovall, CEO, Kansas Manufacturing Solutions
  • Jennifer Wold, partner, FORVIS

Winners for both categories will be announced during the Kansas Manufacturing Summit on Thursday, Oct. 13, at the Kansas Star Casino and Event Center.