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Business & Economy

Leading innovators celebrated at North East Innovation Awards

Innovation SuperNetwork CEO, Simon Green has been hailed an ‘Innovation Champion’ at the North East Innovation Awards, nominated by the partnership he has built-up since launching the SuperNetwork in 2015.

Chris Jones, R&D Manager at Northumbrian Water, said: “As a business, we’ve worked with Simon for many years and have always been impressed with his tireless passion for innovation and his commitment to bringing the region together to help drive disruption.

“VentureFest North East has provided a platform to celebrate innovation, bringing the region together to collaborate on ambitious projects. Its success is down to Simon’s passion and the dedicated team he has built at the Innovation SuperNetwork. As he gets ready to step down as CEO, it is more than fitting that he is honoured with the Innovation Champion award, and I’m sure his commitment to supporting regional innovation won’t end here.”

Simon steps away from his role of CEO at the end of March. Speaking about the accolade he said: “It feels a little strange to be collecting an award as part of something I’ve worked with the team to build over the last few years, but I’m very honoured to be recognised by our partnership as having been part of their innovation journeys.

“And I think it is fitting, that one of the key things we’ve seen from this year’s VentureFest is a real focus on working together to drive the regional economy post-COVID-19 and support our communities. This type of collaboration has underpinned the work of the SuperNetwork and is the core premise of VentureFest itself. I’m looking forward to continuing to champion innovation as I take a more active role in the Rural Design Centre and as Chair of the SuperNetwork, going forward.”

VentureFest North East took place as a fully virtual event for the first time on March 17, 2021. The North East Innovation Awards’ shortlist was made up of businesses taking part in the programme’s Innovation Showcase with winners announced in five key regional sectors. Innovation of the Year was decided by delegates attending VentureFest via a live poll.

The winners are:

Manufacturing Innovation of the Year: Power Roll
Category partner: SAM Project, Sunderland University

Ken Teears, Project Manager at SAM Project, University of Sunderland “Power Roll’s ability to manufacture their innovative product at scale has the potential for significant global impact. Their flexible solar PV is a ground-breaking approach to manufacturing technology to harness renewable energy with a multitude of applications.”

Digital Innovation of the Year: Bottlepay
Category partner: Jumping Rivers

Esther Gillespie, CEO at Jumping Rivers “We were really impressed by the calibre of businesses shortlisted in the Digital category. All three businesses stood out as doing something different, but in the end what Bottlepay are doing is a really disruptive piece of fintech with the ability to transform how individuals move currency and makes bitcoin more accessible to new users.”

Energy Innovation of the Year: Axon Systems
Category partner: North East LEP

David Lynch, energy innovation partnership manager at North East LEP, said: “There are some stand out energy businesses in this region, so it was a real challenge to choose a winner in the category, but Axon Systems really stood out as a business whose solution has the potential to provide energy savings for all, across both commercial and domestic spaces.”

Healthcare Innovation of the Year: QuantuMDx
Category partner: Ward Hadaway

Damien Charlton, partner at Ward Hadaway, said: “What QuantuMDx are doing with their Q-POC innovation in rapid testing is having a significant impact in helping to manage the global problem of COVID-19. What’s more, the flexibility of the pocket lab means it has multiple applications to support healthcare professionals working in different environments globally.”

Social Innovation of the Year: Global Teacher
Category partner: Karbon Homes

Christine Paxton, assistant director business development and Communications at Karbon Homes, said: “Global Teacher has developed a truly unique platform and product in the POD projector. The project has a strong social purpose and the potential to transform the lives of many millions of marginalised people world-wide by delivering vital and impactful education resources without the need for complex infrastructure.”

Innovation of the Year: Climate Action North
Category partner: North East BIC

Lilla Preston, special projects manager at North East BIC, said: “It’s been a real pleasure bringing together such a strong cohort of businesses for the Innovation Showcase this year, and celebrating the best of the best through the North East Innovation Awards. Selecting Innovation of the Year was no doubt a difficult choice for VentureFest delegates, and I’m delighted to see Climate Action North take home the award.”

The Innovation Showcase is one of VentureFest’s most inspirational elements. It is delivered by the Innovation SuperNetwork in partnership with the North East BIC’s Innovation Programme.

In a change to previous years, the showcase also made up the shortlist for North East Innovation Awards’ sector specific categories, with winners decided by an independent industry panel in advance. Innovation of the Year was decided by delegate vote at VentureFest, with Innovation Champion by nomination.

VentureFest North East is part of the wider Catalysing Innovation in North East Cluster Project delivered by the Innovation SuperNetwork. The SuperNetwork is supported by the North East LEP, Northumbrian Water Group, North East BIC and P&G, with part-funding from the European Regional Development Fund.