First ever Innovation Awards wow guests in Portsmouth with stunning displays of impressive work as honours are handed out in 10 categories
DRONES, submersible crafts, incredible charity projects and big data advances were all part of the special event that wowed guests at the first Innovation Awards.
More than 120 guests gathered to see the latest innovations in our city and celebrate some of the most remarkable.
Ten awards were handed out across a range of categories that looked at different sectors such as health, education, community, defence and the environment.
It was the first time the event had been put on, after the original date last year was postponed due to coronavirus lockdowns.
Editor of The News Mark Waldron praised the entries and thanked the sponsors, including headline sponsor BAE Systems, as well as the events team for putting on a spectacular showcase for our city.
He said: ‘This exciting new event has been designed to showcase what's already being achieved in the city and also create a buzz around our digital, innovation and creative sectors to encourage more innovators into the Portsmouth area.
‘These sectors have grown at a phenomenal rate, boost the local economy and underpin many aspects of business - and our lives.
‘So we felt it was time to shout about their immense contribution with an event to honour the pioneers from Portsmouth and surrounding areas.
‘Not only are we celebrating innovation, and the best in business, but we are doing so after a particularly tricky 18 months. So to see some of the wonderful work that has been going on in and around Portsmouth in the face of such challenging circumstances has been truly inspirational.’
Inspirational speeches were given by special guests Josh Robinson, from events business LMSUKMedia, who won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award at The News’ Business Excellence Awards this year and Becky Lodge, founder of Startup Disruptors.
Mike Woods, from Solent Sky Services, put on a display of his drone work, and guests also heard about the innovations happening at BAE Systems, the University of Portsmouth and in Portsmouth thanks to Portsmouth City Council.
Category sponsors handed out the honours on stage. Representatives from each business had also been involved in the judging process.
The top award of the evening – Innovative Business of the Year – was given to Datavault, which also was named Digital Innovation of the Year.
Datavault is a boutique IT consultancy based on Hayling Island helping corporate clients improve their use of data and analytics.
Sam Cole, from the firm, said they were shocked and proud to be honoured.
She said: ‘Thank you, we are a small firm in Hayling Island. We specialise in building data warehouses. Most of our staff have joined us in the last few year and we have grown our revenue by 150 per cent in that short time. We are pretty proud of our system. It is helping large companies in America, Australia and all over the world. Thank you for the recognition.’Another worthy award recipient was Portsmouth-based charity Urbond, which won Community Innovation of the Year.
Its founder Ousmane Drame said: ‘Thank you so much, we started in 2013, the reason we started was the division in the community. We have since reached over 30,000 people from 75 nationalities.
‘What we do in Portsmouth is really important. Let’s talk and see how we can make Portsmouth a better place for everyone.’
The night was praised by representatives from the sponsors.
Nick Young, head of innovation labs at BAE Systems, said: ‘For me Portsmouth and innovation are synonymous.
‘The fact that the Portsmouth News has done this event is amazing, it’s been a real challenge. We want to make sure that BAE Systems stays heavily involved with these awards as innovation is core to what we do.
‘We are proud to be a sponsor and we are keen to get involved with people who are here tonight. We hope to come next year and the year after and the year after that.’
Dr Chris Worrall, innovation director at University of Portsmouth, said: ‘The reason I am so excited to be here tonight is about celebrating the work of the most innovative businesses in our region. As a sponsor I got to see a lot of the entries and I was surprised by the amount of businesses lurking in our region who have not been brought into the spotlight like this before.’
Cllr Ben Dowling, cabinet member for culture, leisure and economic development at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘We are very pleased to be a sponsor of the awards this evening.
‘Portsmouth is full of some of the most creative and innovative problem solving people and it is great to be celebrating innovation in our city. Long may it continue.’
More coverage from the night, and a closer look at the winners, will follow in next week’s News, on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.