Track and trace technology company Ubisense led a Cambridge glory charge as it won two UK Queen’s Awards – for International Trade and Innovation – in the 2012 competition announced today.Specialising in real time location systems, Ubisense’s success also represents a remarkable double for Cambridge University’s Computer Laboratory. RealVNC, Ubisense’s former Computer Lab stablemate, did the double last year.
Remarkably both companies spun out of Andy Hopper’s lab in 2002 and he is chairman of both – clearly a power behind the throne!
The Cambridge Cluster produced six of the region’s International Trade winners and two in the Innovation category. There was also rare glory for the region’s BioMedTech sector as personalised medicines pioneer Horizon Discovery and genetics research facilitator BlueGnome won Queen’s Awards for International Trade.
The Cambridge duo join a small handful of Life Sciences businesses who have won Queen’s Awards since the competition started way back in 1966.
Spiral Software Ltd demonstrate the diversity and strength in depth of the Cambridge software scene by winning a Queen’s Award for International Trade. The company combines cutting-edge mathematics with innovative visualisation methods to create tools and services that help clients make the best choices in trading and refining crude oil.
Proving that class endures, world-leading inkjet company Domino Printing Sciences wins its fifth Queen’s Award – the last of them earned 11 years ago. The first was a Queen’s Award for Technology way back in 1985. It won the Export Award in 1987 and when that category was changed to International Trade racked up two successes in 2000 and 2001 – so this is the company’s third International Trade Award.
There was heart-warming success for Cambridge’s Møller Centre for Continuing Education, which has also become a key hub for leading local businesses in recent years.
Colortrac Ltd in St Ives, Contamac Ltd (Saffron Walden), LMK Thermosafe Ltd (Haverhill) and Plant Parts Ltd (Ipswich) were other International Trade winners among the 17 East of England businesses that won 2012 Queen’s Awards.
Sentec Ltd was the only local company to match Ubisense’s achievement in winning a Queen’s Award for Innovation. The Cambridge technology design hothouse was honoured for developing a novel family of electricity meter current sensors.
And they can raise a few glasses at Adnams plc in Southwold, Suffolk, after the forward-thinking brewer won the region’s only Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development.
Here’s the roll of honour in alphabetical order, with winners’ profiles:-
BlueGnome - Established in 2001, BlueGnome Ltd works closely with the clinical and scientific community to design, manufacture and supply microarray-based products for the investigation of genetic disorders. The company’s products are supplied to hospitals, specialist genetics centres and IVF clinics in over 35 countries where they are used to investigate the genetic causes of infertility, developmental delay, certain specific cancers and an associated list of known genetic syndromes. It wins the award for the first time for its outstanding achievement in growing overseas sales by 167 per cent from 2008 to 2010 through well-managed export expansion, including setting up operations in key markets such as the US and Singapore, in addition to existing markets in Europe, served from the Cambridge UK headquarters. The mix of direct and distribution sales channels has resulted in international sales of over 80 per cent.
Colortrac - Based in St Ives and founded in 1989, Colortrac Ltd manufactures digital colour image capture for large format copying and wide format scanning applications. A previous winner of a Queen’s Award for International Trade Colortrac has won again with exports accounting for 96% per cent of a significantly increased turnover contributing to overseas earnings growth of 93 per cent over a three-year period. An experienced exporter Colortrac is trading with every major country in the world whether via standalone products or those embedded in other manufacturers’ products. The company has a well-established support infrastructure making full
use of web based technology and has appointed 69 distributors covering 105 countries opening new markets and establishing sales and support offices in China (Beijing) and the US.
Contamac Ltd – Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Contamac has demonstrated continuous growth in exports over the last six years within the ophthalmic medical device industry, developing and manufacturing specialist polymers. Contamac’s trade strategy includes overseas distributors, a wholly owned subsidiary, a multilingual sales and marketing team, medical device experts and strategic alliances. Integral to this strategy, R & D and eye care practitioner education are delivered through the company’s Centre of Excellence and the recently formed Contamac Specialty Lens Institute.
Domino Printing Sciences plc – Incorporated in 1978, the company manufactures coding, marking and variable data printing equipment, including the development, manufacture and sale of marking devices, printers, and inks. This is its fifth Queen’s Award and the first for 11 years. It won its first Award in 1985 and others in 1987, 2000 and 20001. It wins the International Trade Award for its continuous improvement in export activity and an accompanied growth in commercial success. The company shows positive growth in overseas earnings across the six-year period with the company exporting approximately 90 per cent of its product. It operates globally and shows a comprehensive strategy with various routes to market, developed to suit regional conditions.
Horizon Discovery Ltd – Leading provider of research tools to support translational genomics research and development of personalised medicines. Using its proprietary gene-editing technology, Horizon is able to alter any endogenous gene sequence of a human or mammalian cell line quickly, reliably and without introducing unwanted and confounding genotypes and/or phenotypes. Founded in 2005 and based in Cambridge, the company wins the Award for the first time for its outstanding achievement in export growth, showing 361 per cent overall growth over the last three years. This growth has been built upon a customer base including academic organisations, biotech, diagnostic and pharma companies, through direct selling and partnerships.
LMK Thermosafe – Family business LMK Thermosafe Ltd manufactures industrial drum and container heaters for use in potentially explosive atmospheres and now exports the majority of its products. To achieve export growth the company successfully implemented new product development and specialist certification programmes, extending its capability into new geographic markets. A mixture of export strategies are employed to support direct, OEM and agent sales; in addition associates and overseas offices have been set up in key regions enabling wide ranging technical and marketing assistance to be given to end users. Underpinning this and contributing to the company’s commercial success, it has also expanded its web presence with tailored, geographically targeted websites and by advertising through overseas foreign language technical web directories.
Plant Parts Ltd – Established in 1996, Plant Parts Ltd supplies spare parts for heavy construction (earthmoving) machinery, namely; hydrostatic final drive gearboxes and parts for the Komatsu brand of machines. The FDC (Final Drive Centre) has been developed into a worldwide brand for final drive sales, enabling the company to distinguish itself from its competitors by offering drives from a number of manufacturers under one recognisable brand along with specifically engineered FDC brand drives to meet specific machine technical requirements. Consecutive award winners, Plant Parts has continuously developed its database knowledge systems allowing quotation of the correct parts in the preferred currency with delivery options in a matter of minutes; this quoting and trading strategy is also adapted to meet customer requirements.
Spiral Software Ltd – Based in Cambridge, Spiral Software Ltd has won a Queen’s Award for International Trade for continuous improvement over the last six years. Established in 1998, the company quickly established itself as a leader in its field. Combining cutting edge mathematics with innovative visualisation methods, its tools and services help clients to make the best choices in trading and refining crude oil. Export sales account for 92 per cent of turnover contributing to overseas earnings growth of 224 per cent. Spiral has a strong and ongoing programme of R & D, and its software now plays a business-critical role in over 80 companies ranging across more than 300 sites around the world.
The Møller Centre for Continuing Education Ltd – Møller was established 20 years ago by Churchill College, University of Cambridge, to bring the worlds of academia and commerce together in a training and conference centre. Its Award for International Trade recognises outstanding achievement over the last three years. Møller offers facilities and educational programmes to a range of clients in the corporate, public and professional services sectors under the authority of Churchill College. More than 40 per cent of clients are from overseas and export earnings on educational programmes achieved 90 per cent growth. Initially targeting Japan, this engagement expanded to include the Chinese market and the Møller Centre now delivers programmes combining academic and practitioner-based development for business leaders, particularly in the banking, corporate and healthcare sectors. All profits are covenanted to Churchill College for investment in undergraduate and graduate education and student support.
Ubisense Group plc – Incorporated in 2005, Ubisense designs, develops, manufactures, markets, sells and supports both its innovative precise real-time location tracking system and solutions based on industry-standard geographical information systems. It wins the Award for the first time for its outstanding achievement in increasing its export sales, showing an overall overseas earnings growth of 83 per cent since 2008. Commercially, the company is seen to be expanding rapidly and has grown from an initial loss-making position to showing continuous profit over the assessment period. This success is seen, in part, to be related to the implementation of a global strategy that sells sector-leading technology solutions while working closely with customers to tailor these solutions to meet their specific needs. The company now sells its products and solutions in Korea, China and Japan, in addition to its original US and European markets. Ubisense also wins the Award for Innovation.
Sentec Ltd - For the development of a family of electricity meter current sensors, smart grid and metering specialist Sentec Ltd wins an Innovation Award. The sensors consist of precisely designed coils made from printed circuit boards, which couple to the magnetic field created by currents flowing through the meters to give a very accurate measurement of the current. The patented balanced coil design ensures that the sensors only pick up current from the conductors in the meter, and eliminates interference from adjacent circuits. The sensors are exceptionally stable long-term, and immune to tampering by magnets, yet are the most cost-effective solution available for metrology in an electricity meter, providing dependable and accurate information on energy consumption to suppliers and customers. Smart electricity meter products have been built around the sensors for both the US and European markets, making use of the flexibility of design choices that the underlying sensor technology enables.
Ubisense Group plc – Ubisense wins an Innovation Award for developing a real-time, location-tracking system that can precisely determine the 3D position of tagged objects to a much higher accuracy than is possible with technologies such as GPS. The system is deployed in a variety of environments, such as vehicle production lines where it reduces costs by monitoring, optimising and automating existing manufacturing processes. It is also used by petro-chemical companies to ensure that personnel follow safety protocols and can be automatically mustered in an emergency. The Ubisense system comprises a fixed sensor infrastructure that communicates with small active tags. The tags can be worn by people or attached to assets, and incorporate patented technology that allows them to be reliably located to within 15cm of their actual position. These innovations have led to significant business growth, particularly in export, allowing Ubisense to also win the Award for International Trade.
Adnams plc – Adnams wins a Sustainable Development Award for pursuing a values-based approach to management within its brewery, wine merchants and hoteliers business. As a result, it has reduced its negative environmental impact and made significant contributions to the well-being of its surrounding communities. It provides an excellent example to its industry. Through the introduction of carbon-neutral beer and lighter beer bottles, it reduced operational impact. It established an innovative Eco-distribution Centre, regarded as exemplar. Partnering a local small business, it harnessed anaerobic digestion technology for generating gas from organic waste to supply its own requirements and feed surpluses to the national grid. The company provides leadership, staff resource and funding to promote responsible drinking and support work experience and training, especially for disabled and disadvantaged people.
• Look out for our 16-page supplement on the Queen’s Awards – ‘For Queen & Country’ – in Business Weekly’s next issue, out on Thursday, April 26.