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Absolute dynamite – tech awards are biggest yet

The biggest ever Dynamites Awards celebrated the superstars and rising stars of the region’s successful tech sector.

The Dynamites 22 Awards attracted a record 520 attendees and more entries than ever before. This year’s awards were hosted by North East comedian Carl Hutchinson, and, as ever, were organised by Dynamo, the region’s industry-led tech network.

The ninth annual awards were held in Newcastle Civic Centre’s Banqueting Hall and sponsored by Nigel Wright Recruitment. There were 12 award categories, including the popular People’s Choice Award and a new award, Sustainability in Tech, sponsored by BJSS.

Ruth Harrison, Global Head of Industry at Thoughtworks and Chair of the Dynamites 22 judging panel, welcomed the record number of guests.

She said: “It is fantastic to be able to celebrate the talent, values, amazing innovation and inspiring people in our region who work tirelessly to deliver the most admired organisations across the North East.

“This year the Dynamites awards received a record number of entries, a staggering 134 in total across 11 categories – making the job of the judges harder but somehow more exciting than ever.

“There can be no greater accolade than to be measured against our peers and be recognised as best in class. You all deserve this chance to take a step back from the day to day, recognise the achievements of our fellow Dynamo colleagues and have fun too!”

Other speakers included Ben Denham, from sponsors Nigel Wright Recruitment and Coun Nick Kemp, Leader of Newcastle City Council.

Coun Kemp stressed how important the tech sector was to the regional economy: “It is right that we celebrate a sector that is worth more than £2bn to the north east economy, which employs more than 35,000 people – and continues to grow.”

He also praised Dynamo for doing so much to bring the sector together.

There was a wide spread of winners, with tech companies large and small scooping awards, as well as organisations with IT departments.

One of the first winners was Success4All, an educational charity working with families and young people, who won both the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and Tech for Good categories.

Kirsty Hayward, the charity’s STEM Engagement Manager, said: “We’re so excited to have won two awards, though it was a real shock. We hope winning the awards will help raise our profile and promote the work we do in local communities.

“People assume all young people have a good level of digital skills, but that’s not always the case, particularly in the wake of Covid, so some of our work is about getting those skils to the level where they should be.”

Another early winner was Helen Robson, Clinical Innovation and Transformation Lead at Connect Health, who won the Rising Star category. Helen said: “I’m really surprised, but delighted to have won – I’m proud of my team and this award reflects the way they always go above and beyond.”

Opencast were highly commended in the EDI category and won the highly-competitive Growth Explosion category. The company’s CEO Tom Lawson said: “We are thrilled to have won the Growth Explosion category. It has been another fantastic year for the company, with our growth exceeding all expectations.

“But our business growth is not for growth’s sake. It is a direct response to the demand from our clients and partners to tackle ever-more complex challenges. I am extremely proud of the incredible Opencast team – and thanks to Dynamo for the brilliant work it does promoting regional technology businesses.”

Dan Fitzpatrick, Strategic Lead for Digital Skills at Education Partnership North East, won the Tech Champion category. Dan said: “Me winning this award is testament to the fact education needs to change. We need to revolutionise the way young people are taught so they are far better prepared for the world they’re heading in to. This award recognises the revolution is due – and is needed.”

The Project of the Year (Public sector/not for profit) category was won by Newcastle College and The Great North Children’s Hospital. The collaboration produced ‘Animated Symptom Management Films’ which have made a real difference to the lives of local families.

In presenting their award, Ashmita Randhawa, Head of Innovation at Sunderland Software City, said: “The project really stood out as an example of incredible collaboration and teamwork, involving young people through work experience, creating some fantastically valuable output, making a real difference to families. The judges felt from multiple angles it was simply a ‘win-win’.”

The award winners were:

·      Best Use of Data – Waterstons. Azets Newcastle were highly commended

·      Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (Sponsored by University of Sunderland) – Success4All. Opencast were highly commended.

·      Growth Explosion (Sponsored by LDC) – Opencast

·      Innovator of the Year (Sponsored by North East Business Resilience Centre)  – iamproperty

·      Project of the Year (Corporate, sponsored by Apexon) – Bulien. BAI Communications and Sunderland City Council were highly commended

·      Project of the Year (Public Sector/Not for Profit) – Newcastle College/ Great North Children’s Hospital

·      Rising Star (Sponsored by Gateshead College) – Helen Robson (Connect Health). Joe Cockroft from NEBRC was highly commended

·      Skills Developer (Sponsored by Sage) – Aspire Technology Solutions

·      Sustainability in Tech (Sponsored by BJSS) – Connected Energy. Kraken IM were highly commended

·      Tech for Good (Sponsored by tombola) – Success4All

·      Tech Champion (Sponsored by Nigel Wright Recruitment) – Dan Fitzpatrick (Education Partnership North East)

·      People’s Choice – Waterstons


This year’s judging panel was chaired by Ruth Harrison and her fellow judges included: Ashmita Randhawal – Head of Innovation, Sunderland Software City; Ben Upton – Product & Solutions Director, Aspire Technology Solutions; Chris Dresser – Managing Consultant, Nigel Wright Recruitment; Esther Gillespie – Director, Jumping Rivers Ltd; James Holmes – Global Chief Information Officer, The North of England P&I Association Ltd; Jamie Hardesty, Head of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement, Sunderland Software City;  Lisa Harwood – Senior Economic Development & Regeneration Officer, North of Tyne Combined Authority; Mark Jennings – Client Group Managing Director, Accenture UK; Veronica Spowart, – Director of Creative & Digital Industries, Newcastle College.

Representatives from the category sponsors will also joined the panel for their respective categories.

Charlie Hoult, Chair of the Dynamo Advisory Board, said: “What a fantastic night and what a way to celebrate a sector that continues to exceed expectations – and one which the region should be mightily proud of. The record numbers of entries and attendees says much about the popularity of the event, but it’s also further evidence of a buoyant, confident sector that is becoming more and more important to the region’s economy.”