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Topeka Continues Commitment to Innovation

 innovation award web

The next big thing in innovation is coming to Topeka. Plug and Play, a globally recognized venture capital fund and corporate innovation platform, has picked Topeka as a location for their next accelerator program. As Plug and Play’s next startup accelerator city, Topeka will host upwards of 20 startup companies per year as each one goes through the 3-month startup accelerator program.

“Topeka’s partnership with Plug and Play is the first step in realizing our vision of making Topeka a hub of innovation for the entire region.” Katrin Bridges, SVP of Innovation, Greater Topeka Partnership, says. “In 2018 alone Plug and Play accelerated 1,107 startups worldwide. Plug and Play will leverage their global innovation platform to attract animal health/ag tech startups to Topeka which will have a tremendous economic impact on Shawnee County and the entire region.”

Topeka’s location in the Animal Health Corridor was a major contributing factor to the innovation platform’s decision. “We are excited about adding a new program to our growing ecosystem. Topeka is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the agricultural assets in the region which provide fertile ground to spark innovation both through accelerating startups and creating partnerships with corporate players. We feel that there is great momentum building for this initiative and look forward to bringing our experience and global network to the table,” says Saeed Amidi, CEO of Plug and Play.

“Advancing innovation is a strategic priority for the KC Animal Health Corridor,” says Kimberly Young, president of the KC Animal Health Corridor. “The addition of Plug and Play to our 22-county, bi-state region, further enhances the established and growing ecosystem that attracts and supports emerging and established companies alike.”

As this year’s winner of the Small Business Innovation Award, Joe Pennington, president of Stevenson Company, said: “It’s exciting to see Topeka’s commitment to innovation in the industry. I am looking forward to seeing if Plug and Play brings in a new recipient of the Innovation Award next year.”

Based out of Silicon Valley in Sunnyvale, Calif., Plug and Play has only three other locations in the United States outside of its headquarters: New York City, Cleveland and Northwest Arkansas. “This is an extremely unique opportunity,” John Keddy, CTO of Security Benefit and member of the GTP’s Innovation Advisory Board, says. “This is the fourth time in the U.S. that Plug and Play will set up shop outside of Silicon Valley. This will put Topeka on the map in terms of innovation.”

The Greater Topeka Partnership is optimistic that this program will afford them the chance to draw more startups to the community. “In bringing startups to Topeka, as a means to help them succeed, we will also work to attract and retain them to the area, growing the Topeka startup community in the process.” Bridges says.

In June 2019, the Greater Topeka Partnership hosted Plug and Play representatives in Topeka for several days. They met with several community leaders, GTP staff, entrepreneurs and potential corporate partners in the region to discuss the opportunity of building an animal health/ag tech program in Topeka.

Planning for the accelerator program is underway. “The Topeka community needs to continue to show our support of this initiative. To date, the community support and enthusiasm has been impressive, so it’s just a matter of us sustaining it.” Keddy says. This program will not only help Topeka’s economic growth, it will also attract and retain more talented individuals.

Stevenson Company Wins Innovation Award

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Stevenson's signature spiral chutes have reached their newest level of recognition. This week, Stevenson Company was awarded the 2019 Innovation Award. This distinction, bestowed during the Small Business Awards ceremony in Topeka, recognized Stevenson's spiral chute as an outstanding innovation that contributed to the business community. The spiral was deemed to have a significant positive impact on the food processing industry.

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Stevenson Spirals Reduce Product Breakage

According to Fadi Aramouni, Professor of Food Science, you can significantly reduce loss inside your facility. Dr. Aramouni, along with McKenna Mills, food lab manager at Kansas State University, determined that the use of a Stevenson Spiral Chute can lower rates of breakage, rework, and waste.

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Spiral Chutes Shrink Your Footprint

Spiral Chute with Covers Prevent Allergen ContaminationSince its inception, the Spiral Chute has been a solution that customers were looking for. Our products are completely “green” in the environmental sense, starting with stainless steel that is sixty percent recycled content. Spiral Chutes have no moving parts, require zero lubrication, and are wholly recyclable. The real environmental impact is that they reduce thousands of pounds of waste by preserving product integrity and therefore avoiding landfill use.

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Finalist for Small Business Award - Stevenson's History of Innovation

Old ShopStevenson Company is a finalist for a Small Business Award, recognizing a solid history of creating innovative products. Russell Stevenson bought a small tin shop in 1952 and advertised in the local business directory: "Sheet Metal Work of All Kinds." The business was located in a former stable. Though our facilities have been updated tremendously since then, we have remained at the same location. We have expanded to a total of 15,500 square feet and armed ourselves with state-of-the-art metalworking equipment.

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Digitizing Technology for Custom Parts


Stevenson Company’s new MultiCam CNC router fuels additional food-safe manufacturing abilities for customers. The combination of a CNC router for plastics and a plasma cutter that can blast through stainless steel offer fast, precise solutions for customers.

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Pennington certified with Preventive Controls Qualified Individual credentials

CaptureJoe Pennington, president of Stevenson Company Inc., has been certified with Preventive Controls Qualified Individual Training to help customers train and comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requirement. The training was provided by Fadi Aramouni at the Food Science Institute.

The Food Safety Modernization Act is the most extensive reform of food safety laws in the United States in more than 70 years. With the proactive goal to prevent food contamination, one key change included in the reform that applies to the majority of food processors is the need to have a food safety plan prepared and implemented by a PCQI.

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Safety is our middle name

Our crew is the safest around. This month we celebrate another year without incident or injury. Much of the success is thanks to the partnerships with our suppliers, consultants and customers. The biggest factor in safety, of course, is our stellar staff.

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Inventor's Day

the old timers with Spiral ChuteWhat would life be like without electric heat and air conditioning? It’s the 21st century and things like refrigerators and telephones are considered basic everyday essentials. But once upon a time, these items didn’t exist. There was some crazy man who thought to himself, “Huh, what if I could make something that could let me talk to another person through cords?” What a lunatic.

President Ronald Reagan proclaimed February 11, 1983 as the first National Inventors’ Day in the United States in recognition of the enormous contribution inventors make to the nation and the world. Reagan chose February 11th to honor the birthday of Thomas Alva Edison. Throughout his life, Thomas Edison established 1,093 patents in the United States alone.

In 1990, America’s favorite snack maker was committed to improving the chipping experience for all its customers. They put a dedicated team together to find the causes of and solution to an epidemic of broken chips. The team at Stevenson Company, who was already in a business relationship with said chip company, had a voila moment. Using the idea of a grain silo, they thought “Why can’t this be applied for potato chips?” Thus, came the first Stevenson spiral for fragile food products. That spiral was installed, to great fanfare, with a breakage percentage of less than 2%.

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Since the implementation of the first spiral chute, Stevenson Company has made thousands of spirals for plants across the nation. They have evolved into different sizes, configurations and finishes. But every spiral still has the same thing in common: pristine quality.

Happy Inventors’ Day to all you innovative spirits out there.


Food Safety Engineered


Food safety is the number one priority for food manufacturers. Stevenson Company, Inc. helps by engineering solutions that reduce breakage in fragile products and ensure a safe environment for production.

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