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Dynamites 20 recognises North East firms who stepped up during pandemic

A celebration of North East tech talent has been held, this year shining a light on those involved in the region’s fight against coronavirus.

Dynamites 20 is this year’s regional IT and technology awards showcase from tech network Dynamo North East.

Hundreds of people attended the online event, sponsored by Home Group and hosted by actor Daymon Britton.

Charlie Hoult, Dynamo chair, said: “Our seventh annual awards were very different from previous events, but were great fun, and attracted more entries than ever before.

“Importantly, the awards recognised the innovation and endeavour of North East companies, teams and organisations on the frontline against COVID.”

The NHS Business Services Authority won the Tech for Good category for its SMS test messaging service, established at the height of the pandemic to enable the most vulnerable groups to receive vital communications.

Newcastle University’s Get PPE NCL project was the winner of Project of the Year in the not for profit/public sector category. This brought together Newcastle University, Northumbria University and the University of Sunderland, working with local printers, to design and support production of vital protective equipment for the NHS.

The Project of the Year award in the corporate category went to Sage for its Job Retention Scheme Module and COVID Response, while the Outstanding Achievement Award went to HMRX, for its work on the self-employed income support project.

Winners of the 2020 Dynamites were:

  • Skills Developer (sponsored by NHS Business Service Authority): Baltic Apprenticeships; Highly commended: TechUPWomen;
  • Growth Explosion (sponsored by Teesside University): Everflow Group; Highly commended: Aspire Technology Solutions;
  • International Success Story (sponsored by Invest Newcastle): VEO;
  • Rising Star: Fareeha Usman, Being Woman; Highly commended: Katie Shannon, Accenture;
  • Project of the Year (Corporate):  Sage Payroll – Job Retention Scheme Module and COVID 19 Response;
  • Project of the Year (Not for Profit / Public Sector): Newcastle University – Get PPE NCL; Highly commended: Northumbria University, promoting independence through technology-enabled homes;
  • Innovator of the Year (sponsored by Sage): Northumbria University;
  • Tech for Good (sponsored by tombola): NHS Business Services Authority; Highly commended: South
  • Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and The Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust supported by the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria;
  • Diversity & Inclusion (sponsored by Opencast): TechUPWomen;
  • Best use of Data : Wordnerds/DWP; Highly commended: Sage/WordNerds;
  • Outstanding Achievement (sponsored by Home Group): HMRC;
  • People’s Choice: Northumbria University

Fareeha Usman, winner of the Rising Star Award, gave a moving acceptance speech and dedicated her award to all women in tech.

She said: “This is a reminder that tech is for women as much as men. The award is not for me but every woman in the sector, particularly those from a Black, Asian or minority background. You can be a woman in tech and this award is proof of that.”

Simon Parker, director at awards sponsor Home Group who had earlier welcomed more than 200 guests, said: “We’re proud to be playing a part in celebrating the work of the tech sector in the region.”

This year’s judging panel was led by Prof Alastair Irons, academic dean of University of Sunderland.

He was joined by guest judge Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon, co-founder of Stemettes and Mark Thompson, director of consulting services at CGI, Jon Ridley, assistant principal of Newcastle College; Alison Cowie, editor of North East Times; Usman Shahid, managing consultant at Harvey Nash; Graham Jordan, partnership analyst at North Eastern ICT Partnership; Ian Brimer, global head of business systems at Nomad Digital; Michael Hall, CFO of Cognassit; Charlie MacDowall, digital client relationship manager at Northumbria University and Melissa Beckett, chief marketing officer of Kani Payments.