“Phenomenal strength” of tech sector revealed as Tech South West Awards shortlists announced

Seaweed-derived alternatives to plastic packaging, AI tools to tackle online misinformation and data tracking solutions for space rocket launches are among the technologies developed by the finalists for the Tech South West Awards 2023.

Now in their fifth year, the awards celebrate the best in tech from across the South West of England including Bath, Bristol, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire.

With a record 350 entries, over 40 judges were involved in the selection process, culminating in a full day at Clockwise Exeter to agree the final shortlists and winners. 

Kelpi, Airway Medical and Software Cornwall are amongst the tech orgnisations celebrating being shortlisted in several categories, ahead of the ceremony at Sandy Park, Exeter, on Thursday November 9.

Dan Pritchard, co-founder of Tech South West, said: “It’s really important to celebrate and showcase the amazing tech that is being developed across the region. We’re seeing a rapid increase in cleantech and sustainability, along with tech for good, which is exciting and a clear sign of a commitment to build and commercialise tech with true positive impact. Our finalists really are evidence of the phenomenal strength of the sector, and the level of tech innovation.”

This year’s event, sponsored by Headline Partner Bishop Fleming and Supporting Partner Program, has 26 categories.

The Innovation Award, sponsored by Granted Consultancy, sees Salisbury-based Small Robot Company alongside Bristol-based Airway Medical, Bristol firm Kelpi, which is developing plastic alternatives from seaweed, asbestos detection firm Alert Technology and methane detection company QLM Technology, both based in Devon, and Cornwall-based microplastic filtration company Cleaner Seas Group, shortlisted.

Airway Medical has developed a novel device for clearing blocked airways in emergency and chronic conditions. They also make the shortlist for the HealthTech Award, sponsored by FDB Health, alongside biotech startup Ferryx, Devon-based digital health firm HCI and maternity support app Mama Health.

Shortlisted for Best Education Initiative, sponsored by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP and Heart of the South West LEP Digital Skills Partnerships, are BIT Training, Cognition Creative Learning, Software Cornwall and TECwomen CIC.

Accountancy firm Bishop Fleming returns as Headline Partner for this year’s awards, having been involved with the annual event since its inception in 2019.

Pippa Clarke, Head of Technology, Innovation and Growth at Bishop Fleming, said: “Relationships are a hugely rewarding aspect of our work with tech businesses, and we are passionate about supporting the sector. There is so much innovation happening right across the region and it’s fantastic to be bringing the community together to celebrate.” 

Shortlisted for Best Application of AI category, sponsored by Your Tech Future, are Bristol-based startup Arwen AI, which uses artificial intelligence to detect and remove harmful content from social media, friendship platform Beluga Pods, Exeter-based digiLab and Cornish financial wellbeing app Good With.

Good With also join Dorset-based cloud accounting software firm Iplicit for the Fintech Award, sponsored by Software Solved. The Best Startup Award, sponsored by the University of Exeter Digital Team and SETsquared Exeter, sees Arwen AI, Good With, Oort Energy and Kelpi shortlisted.

Rowe IT, Adopstar, School of Code and Software Cornwall are shortlisted for The Commitment to Diversity Award, sponsored by ISL Talent. Adopstar and Software Cornwall are also shortlisted for the Commitment to Talent category, sponsored by Clockwise, alongside BIT Training and TECwomen CIC.

The CreaTech Award, sponsored by Filmily, sees Condense, Cornwall Museums Partnership, Inizio Engage XD, Moonraker and Real Ideas Organisation on the shortlist. digiLab, TalkLife, Thought Quarter, Joiin and Wildanet are in the running for the Growth Award, sponsored by Ashfords.

Caroline Orr, Marketing Director at Supporting Partner Program, said: “Each year the quality of the entries improve. I was particularly struck by the growth in sustainability-focused and tech4good companies. It’s across the region, and that’s super exciting for the sector. These companies are tackling real challenges and set on achieving lasting impact.”

The MarineTech Award, sponsored by QantX, features Actisense, savvy navvy, MLA College and KILO Solutions. Nanoland Global, Quor and Small Robot Company are finalists for the AgriTech Award. Shortlisted for the Space and Aviation Award are Tom Crabtree of KETS Quantum Security, Goonhilly Earth Station, Rocketmakers and Vistair.

Cleaner Seas Group, Kelpi, Matter, Oort Energy and QLM Technology make the shortlist for the Sustainability Award, sponsored by Michelmores. Dr Connie Wilson of BAE Systems, Dr Juliette Jackson of Seadream Education and Cognition Creative Learning are named as finalists for the TeachTech Award.

Supporting the Sector Award, sponsored by Howden, sees legal firm Ashfords, EPIC Centre Torbay, Future Space Bristol and FibreHub in Cornwall shortlisted. Bay Photonics, digiLab, Kelpi and Hiyield are shortlisted for Tech Company of the Year (Under £5m), sponsored by Exeter and Plymouth Science Parks.

Huboo and Rowe IT are the finalists for Tech Company of the Year (over £5m), sponsored by Foot Anstey, while Airway Medical, Cleaner Seas Group, Kelpi, QLM Technology and Matter. are the finalists for the Tech for Good Award, sponsored by Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone.

Finalists for the Tech Leadership Award, sponsored by Mercia Asset Management, are Theresa Benson of Adopstar, Neil Morris of Kelpi, Emma Glazier of Crowd, Niki Davies and Holly Patton of Software Cornwall, and Nathan Baranowski of Digital Wonderlab.

The Spotlight Award, sponsored by Sandler South West, is a new category that shines a light on inspiring individuals in the sector. The finalists are Dr Connie Wilson of BAE Systems, Neil Morris of Kelpi, Jennifer Russell of TalkLife, Lynsey Bridgewater of AND Digital, Emma Glazier of Crowd and Fran Solo of Stornaway.

Fran Solo and Lynsey Bridgewater are also shortlisted for the Women in Tech Award, sponsored by Jurassic Fibre, with Katie Goode of Triangular Pixels and  the female team at Cosmic. The Workplace Culture Award, sponsored by Interaction, sees Ghyston, Storm Consultancy, Thought Quarter and Wessex Internet shortlisted.

THE Tech South West Award, sponsored by South West Business Council, People’s Choice Award, sponsored by Hertzian, and local cluster awards, sponsored by Headforwards, will be announced on the night.
Tickets are available at https://www.tickettailor.com/events/techsouthwest/989697