Winners revealed at the Tech South West Awards 2023

The winners of the fifth Tech South West Awards were revealed last night at a ceremony in Exeter.

A record-breaking 400 tech leaders attended the awards, which showcased innovation from across the region including AI tools to tackle online hate speech, satellite navigation systems and space observation technology.

Dan Pritchard, co-founder of Tech South West and CEO of Program, said: “From climate science to healthtech, sustainable energy and education, tech is driving real positive change in society. The South West is a bustling hub of innovation across a range of tech specialisms, and it’s great to celebrate the people and teams behind the meteoric rise of the sector.”

In a night of glittering celebration, it was Bristol-based Kelpi that stood out as the Bristol-based firm carried home five category awards – the first organisation ever to do so – with CEO Neil Morris also winning the Tech Leadership Award. The company has developed technology to replace single-use plastic packaging with bioplastics derived from seaweed. 

Kelpi, which was incorporated in 2020, won Best Startup, the Innovation Award (with QLM Technology being Highly Commended), and the Sustainability category (Highly Commended: Oort Energy), alongside the Tech Company of the Year Award for companies with revenues up to £5m.

THE Tech South West Award, which celebrates one individual or organisation from all the category winners, also went to Kelpi.

Neil Morris, CEO of Kelpi, said at the event: “For me this has been a fantastic opportunity not just to network and talk to other brilliant companies that are flourishing in the South West, because it’s such a fantastic place to be doing business, but it’s also the embodiment of how you can bring innovation, technology and creative thinking together to address some of the world’s largest problems. 

“And what we’ve done here in the South West is create this ecosystem, this ability to be able to bring these different disciplines into one place, and thereby really start to transform the world through entrepreneurship, innovation and new businesses.”

The AgriTech Award, which shines a light on one of the region’s key sectors, went to Salisbury-based Small Robot Company for their development of autonomous farming robots, with Nanoland Global being Highly Commended.

The Best Application of AI Award went to Cornwall-based Arwen AI, for their work using machine learning to tackle online hate speech. Exeter-based deep tech firm digiLab came Highly Commended by the judges.

Top 30 full-service accountancy firm Bishop Fleming returned as Headline Partner of this year’s awards, having supported the event since its inception in 2019.

Pippa Clarke, Head of Technology, Innovation, and Growth at Bishop Fleming, said: “We are delighted to return as Headline Partner of the Tech South West Awards in its fifth year. 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.” 

QLM Technology won the Tech for Good Award, which this year received the most entries of any category, for their development of a patented system to detect and quantify emission rates of greenhouse gases. Kelpi were Highly Commended.

The Commitment to Diversity category was won by Devon-based Adopstar, with digiLab, also based in Devon, taking home the Growth Award.

The FinTech Award went to cloud account specialists iplicit, while Cornwall’s iconic Goonhilly Earth Station was awarded the trophy for Space and Aviation, with KETS Quantum Security Highly Commended.

Bristol-based software firm Ghyston won the Workplace Culture Award, with Bath-based Storm Consultancy receiving a commendation.

South West marketing agency Program returned this year as Supporting Partner of the awards.

Caroline Orr, co-owner and director of Program, said: “It’s always an inspiration to see first-hand the amazing innovation taking place across the region.

“Behind every great organisation is a fantastic team of people, and we’re delighted to help bring together the South West tech community for another bonanza of celebration, showcasing and networking.”

Bristol tech hub Future Space won the Supporting the Sector Award, while FibreHub, based in Cornwall, received a commendation from the judges.

The MarineTech category went to Dorset-based savvy navvy for their development of satellite navigation systems for boats. Actisense, also based in Dorset, received a commendation for their marine electronics interfacing technology.

Cornwall-based Cognition Creative Learning won Best Education Initiative, while their team also scooped the TeachTech Award.

Ben Cooper, Funding and Support Lead at Tech South West, said: “The quality of entries and winners this year speak for themselves. What a dazzling showcase of innovation taking place across a huge range of specialisms. As we seek to grow the angel investor community in the region with our Angel Investor Programme and provide enhanced support opportunities for growing organisations via our newly launched Growth Forge, it’s the energy and dynamism of the sector – and the people who make it – that show why tech in the South West deserves more attention, more funding, and more celebration.”

Adopstar, based in Devon, won the Commitment to Diversity Award for their approach to hiring neurodiverse apprentices, gender policies and mental health support for employees.

Cornwall-based TECwomen CIC won the Commitment to Talent Award for their training programmes for women and girls. Devon-based BIT Training and Software Cornwall came Highly Commended.

The CreaTech Award went to Cornwall Museums Partnership, while Airway Medical won the HealthTech Award (Highly Commended: Ferryx).

The Tech Company of the Year for companies with revenues over £5m went to Bristol-based Huboo, with Plymouth firm Rowe IT receiving a commendation.

Fran Solo, senior front-end developer at Stornaway, won the Spotlight Award, which celebrates outstanding individuals in the sector, with Jennifer Russell of TalkLife and Kelpi’s Neil Morris both Highly Commended. 

Fran Solo was Highly Commended in the Women in Tech Award, alongside Lynsey Bridgewater of AND Digital. The category was won by Katie Goode, creative director and co-founder of award-winning games studio Triangular Pixels. 

The People’s Choice Award was voted on during the ceremony by the audience, from a shortlist of nominations submitted by the tech community. The trophy went to Suzanne Manson, Director and Head of Delivery at Cornwall-based TECgirls.

Stand-out entries from local cluster areas were also celebrated, with Cluster Awards going to Arwen AI (Bristol), Cognition Creative Learning (Cornwall), iplicit (Dorset), digiLab (Exeter and wider area), MyGoodbyes (Gloucestershire), Coreblue (Plymouth), Ecoze (Somerset), Bay Photonics (Torbay), and A2Z Cloud (Wiltshire).

Tech South West is a membership organisation that supports the South West tech sector to grow, fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange across the ecosystem. 

View photos from the night at https://www.techsouthwest.co.uk/awards-2023/photos-from-the-night/

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