Fillauer marketing manager Amy Duck holds the prosthetic device, Nexo, that netted the 2018 Spirit of Innovation Award Wednesday for the Fillauer company at the Chattanooga Area Chamber's Spirit of Innovation awards luncheon at the Chattanooga Convention Center.

This story was updated Oct. 24, 2018, at 6:47 p.m. with more information.

A 104-year-old Chattanooga company on Wednesday was lauded for its innovation.

Fillauer Cos., which began across from Erlanger hospital in 1914 but now has offices worldwide, won Chattanooga's Spirit of Innovation Award.

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Michael Fillauer receives the 2018 Spirit of Innovation Award Wednesday at the Chattanooga Area Chamber's Spirit of Innovation awards luncheon at the Chattanooga Convention Center. Chris Cummings, right, Founder and CEO of Pass It Down, presents.


The VW eLab and Chris Seanard of Dalewood Middle School received the Educator Innovation Award presented by the Chattanooga 2.0 Action Team. It recognized creativity and innovations in the classroom.

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Chris Seanard, center, and Arielle Hayes, right, react after winning the 2018 Education Innovator Award Wednesday at the Chattanooga Area Chamber's Spirit of Innovation awards luncheon at the Chattanooga Convention Center. Abby Garrison, far left, and Michael Weiss presented the award.

The company was cited for its Nexo system, an upper extremity prosthesis that Fillauer says has drastically changed options available for patients, technicians and prosthetists.

Fillauer Chief Executive Officer Michael Fillauer, the fourth generation to lead the company, said the orthotic and prosthetic device maker is an older business but continues to innovate.

"We're even disruptive in our market, which is a nice place to be," he said after an awards luncheon with several hundred people.

Two other businesses were finalists for the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce-sponsored award. Motivo is a company that has developed an online option for pre-licensed mental health therapists to access consultation hours mandatory for licensure. WorkHound gives frontline employees a voice and provides companies with the tools to act on that feedback.

The award, established in 2001, identifies companies launching innovative products, practices or processes which give them a competitive edge in the marketplace. The award is part of a collaboration between the Chamber and the descendants of John Kruesi, who immigrated to America in the 1800s and worked with inventor Thomas Edison.

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Fillauer Cos. Chief Executive Michael Fillauer

Fillauer, which employs 125 people in Chattanooga and 250 worldwide, has annual revenues between $35 million and $50 million, the company's CEO said.

He said the Nexo system was inspired by "one of our good friends" who's also an amputee and does testing for Fillauer.

"The whole concept originated in Chattanooga," said Fillauer, who took the reins at the company in 2016.

One reason for the company's innovation penchant is that both Fillauer and his father, Karl, each come from a clinical background, the CEO said.

"We had grown up in the industry in the patient care side," he said. "It kind of drives our passion. We've been there with the patients who utilize our devices."

In 2015, Fillauer embarked on one of its biggest expansions in Chattanooga as it shifted a key division from California to its home town.

The business bolstered its workforce by up to 40 jobs and added manufacturing space near its Amnicola Highway headquarters in a multimillion-dollar project.

Fillauer said the business has "an amazing team that I love going to work with every day."

Dr. Michelle Buchanan, Oak Ridge National Laboratory's deputy for science and technology and the keynote speaker for the Spirit of Innovation awards, said Chattanooga has gained "a worldwide reputation as a high-tech center."

She mentioned the ORNL office that was set up in 2016 at EPB's downtown Chattanooga headquarters in the city's Innovation District where it's working with a variety of companies. With EPB, ORNL is learning how to best apply sensors, controls, secure communications and other technologies to enable a power grid to function more autonomously and reliably.

"One of the bright lights is the relationship between Oak Ridge and the Chattanooga area," Buchanan said.

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.