CQIA Innovation Prize


All organizations - manufacturers, corporate headquarters, service companies, health care and all levels of educational organizations, as well as municipal, state and federal agencies, and other non profits.

Application Requirements:

On letterhead stationery with your company’s name and logo, please give your application a title followed by a short phrase explaining the innovation. Applications are limited to one typewritten 8.5 x 11 inch page, with no less than 10 point font size having half inch margins on all sides. Each application must include the following four sections:

  1. Opportunity/Problem: A description of an organizational problem that was solved or an opportunity that was leveraged by the innovation.
  2. Innovative Response/Solution: Without divulging proprietary information, write a clear and concise description of the new product, service or process innovation introduced in the last five years.
  3. Why you consider it innovative in the marketplace or your industry.
  4. Results: Using numbers (no dollars) show how this innovation benefited your organization. Examples are increased sales/members/enrollment, added jobs, expenses saved, improved customer satisfaction ratings. Although greatest emphasis is placed on the innovation, no application will be considered without historical numerical results.

All winning applications will be published in the 2014 CQIA Innovation Prize Winning Applications benchmark book.

Cover page:

Again using stationery with your organization’s name and logo, prepare your cover page listing your name, title, company address, telephone number and e-mail address as well as signatures of the following three people:

  1. the organization’s highest ranking officer
  2. the contact person who wrote the application
  3. the person who will speak at the 2014 CQIA Innovation Prize conference for this particular application if it achieves the Gold or Platinum level.

Also include the number of organization employees in Connecticut, and a statement that all applications may be copied and distributed for use by the CQIA Innovation Prize. Please use one cover sheet for each application.


$100 each included with the application, check made payable to CQIA Innovation Prize — 501(c)(3) Federal tax ID 061231938- and mailed to CQIA, PO Box 4559, Stamford, CT 06907-4559.

The CQIA Innovation Prize, a 501(c)(3) ID 061231938 not for profit Connecticut organization, receives no money from either the state or federal government. All funding comes from application fees, conference registration and generous Sponsors.


Applications must be postmarked no later than Wednesday, May 15, 2014.


A minimum of ten CQIA 2014 examiners experienced with the CQIA Innovation Prize criteria. To receive information about becoming a CQIA Innovation Prize examiner, please contact Sheila Carmine, Founder and Executive Director, 203 322-9534 or [email protected].


Winners will be recognized on three levels based on careful and thorough understanding and completion of the four application requirements listed above. Three levels of CQIA Innovation Prizes are Silver, Gold and the highest, Platinum. It is, by necessity, a subjective task based on the experience and judgment of the examiners although historically it has been shown that the highest level awards involve applications with at least some of the following characteristics:

  • a new or significant improvement for the creating or adopting organization
  • a novel product, service or process
  • potential for long term impact or fostering ongoing innovation.

CQIA Examiners Respond To Your Questions

1. How does the CQIA Innovation Prize compare to the National Performance of Excellence?

  • The National Performance of Excellence is a Quality award with 7 categories answered in 50 pages
  • The CQIA Innovation Prize is an Innovation prize answered in 1 page addressing four sections:

2. What are the advantages of applying for the CQIA Innovation Prize (CIP)?

  • CIP provides an opportunity for departments, business units, service groups or other components to be honored for their accomplishments in recognizing and understanding need, then finding an innovative solution which achieves beneficial results.
  • It is also a way to share best practices within the organization and enjoy media coverage both inside and outside the organization.

3. How much of the one-page application should be dedicated to each of the four sections?

  • This is an innovation prize. At least 1/3 of the page should be devoted to an explanation of the innovation including why the solution is indeed an innovation for the organization.
  • Describing company’s history or marketing “pitch” is not usually beneficial.

4. What is the biggest mistake organizations make in their applications?

  • Not including the four items required by the application criteria. An application which describes an opportunity and the innovative solution but fails to describe the results is an example of an otherwise good application failing to receive an award.

5. What are our chances of applying and receiving a platinum prize?

  • About 1% to 2% of applications generally receive a platinum prize. It is also possible that no platinum award will be given in any year.

6. Should we apply if we only reach a silver level?

  • Every organization or organizational unit that has an innovation should apply.
  • While receiving recognition with an award is always nice, the benefits to the organization through the process of its employees searching for innovative solutions that bring results to the organization have great significance.

7. Other than with dollars, how can we present our results?

  • Percentage change can be used for financial results to new products, new services or new processes.
  • Other examples are increased sales/members/enrollment, added jobs, expenses saved, or improved customer satisfaction ratings.

8. What makes an application a platinum, gold or silver recipient?

  • A Silver award contains all the CQIA Innovation Prize application requirements;
  • A Gold typically describes an innovation that is an industry-leading idea; and
  • A Platinum award involves an innovation that is something never done before in that industry.
  • A Platinum CQIA Innovation Prize is a WOW! impacting the community or possibly humanity.

9. Where can we go for help?

  • Read the requirements and four sections carefully and frequently.  People from diverse industries are involved in CQIA. Just this year the president of a venture capital firm made two suggestions: one about dollars, the other proprietary information.  Both were accepted.
  • Study the actual one-page winning gold CQIA applications found on the website at http://ctqualityaward.org/one-page-apps/. How did they answer the questions?
  • Take advantage of Sheila Carmine’s offer to preview your application if you get it to her at least a week before applications are due.  Her telephone number is 203 322-9534. She is our founder and Executive Director. She is NOT an examiner. But she has attended — without voting — all two-hour examiner consensus meetings since 1995.

Good luck.  There’s a lot to learn and enjoy.



  1. Carefully re-read the four requests found in the CQIA Innovation Prize Requirements until you are comfortable with your likely response.
  2. On the CQIA website, www.ctqualityaward.org, study the four examples for one-page applications from gold winning applicants to learn how they responded to the CQIA Innovation Prize requirements.
  3. Make certain that your organization’s name is on the actual one page application as well as on the second page.
  4. Take advantage of the Gate Keepers Telephone Interview with the founder and executive director of the CQIA Innovation Prize. Call 203 322-9534 on weekdays between 10 AM and 2 PM. You will learn if 2014 is the year for you to apply.