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14 September, 2017 - 14:27 By Tony Quested

Business Weekly Awards entry now open to find next wave of business greats

Michael Marshall Business Weekly Awards

Companies that have won the Business Weekly Awards in the last two years alone have recently covered themselves in glory – showing their own prowess as well as the forensic capabilities of our judges.

The 2017-18 Awards launch today with a fresh injection of class among the sponsors, a new category capturing the global influence of Cambridge University IP and a remit to unveil and promote the new wave of potential game-changers among the East of England corporate community. To enter the awards visit

Additional sponsors this year include Cambridge Enterprise, the university’s commercialisation arm; the world-renowned Cambridge Science Park – founded by Trinity College in 1970 – and The Bradfield Centre, a new collaborative entrepreneurial community of technology startups and scale-ups at the heart of the Science Park.

They join lead sponsor – international law firm Mills & Reeve – the UK’s number one bank and accountancy firms Barclays and PwC; Europe’s largest independent product development consultancy, TTP; international executive search firm Bailey Fisher; Cambridge Judge Business School; Marshall of Cambridge; life science giants AstraZeneca and MedImmune and St John’s Innovation Centre, currently in its 30th anniversary year and helping to drive the growth of new business on the northern fringe.

Backed by a judging panel featuring leading executives and investors based in Europe’s No.1 science & technology cluster, the Business Weekly Awards have demonstrated a track record for success since inauguration in 1990.

Businesses of the year have been sold for a cumulative $60bn or so and have clinched major international investment by winning the overall title or major categories.

The fortunes of our reigning champions and previous years’ winners demonstrate the cash and kudos companies can achieve through the high profile of the competition.

Darktrace, the reigning Business of the Year, is a classic example. Just last weekend the company was named among the top three fastest-growing technology companies in the UK. Racing into the top three of the Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 rankings was even more remarkable as it was the first time Darktrace had featured in the league tables, which are based on average sales growth over the last three years.

Darktrace is accredited with annual sales growth of 268 per cent over that period. The company has developed software using machine learning and advanced mathematics to detect and repel cyber security threats. It has raised just over $180 million, including $75m in July, from investors including Invoke Capital – the investment vehicle of Autonomy co-founder Mike Lynch. Autonomy is another former Business of the Year.

Darktrace Business Weekly Awards
Poppy Gustafsson (CEO, EMEA at Darktrace), guest speaker, Professor Steve Young, Jack Stockdale (Global CTO, Darktrace), and Kevin Calder (Partner, Mills & Reeve). Photograph by Tony Lumb 

FiveAI in Cambridge was unveiled as our Startup of the Year in March and has just raised the thick end of £27m through a mix of Series A equity finance and a grant from the UK government.

The new cash will allow FiveAI to develop and demonstrate autonomous SAE level 4 urban technology and a model for its use in a novel form of personal mobility service aimed at individuals currently driving some or all of their daily commute. 

FiveAI is targeting 2019 to launch a supervised trial of a pilot fleet of autonomous vehicles on London roads. The trial will show that the technology is now sufficiently mature to be safe in urban environments and sufficiently intelligent to co-exist with human drivers, road users and pedestrians.

Life science companies excelled at the March presentation ceremony, not least F-star and Bicycle Therapeutics, each of whom has seen demand for its solutions soar in recent months.

F-star, which is developing bispecific antibodies, unveiled a lucrative new partnership with Merck that will net the business up to €115 million in the first two years.

Bicycle Therapeutics achieved the unprecedented feat of beating the new wave of hi-tech businesses to win our Disruptive Technology title in March and that choice has been handsomely vindicated. In June, the company closed a $52m Series B financing to advance its clinical pipeline and it has also expanded its senior management team and forged new alliances with global players. 

The company is developing first-in-class medicines to treat cancer and other debilitating diseases with bicyclic peptides based on IP initiated at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge by the scientific founders of the company: Sir Greg Winter, a pioneer in monoclonal antibody development, and Professor Christian Heinis, an accomplished researcher in the field of peptide therapeutics. 

Personalised medicines trailblazer Horizon Discovery, which won a special Quoted Company of the Year Award at the March ceremony, is on the cusp of a $500m market cap and is making giant strides towards the magic $1bn.

Horizon is on target for consolidated revenue of £37m-£41m for FY17 – between 54 per cent and 71 per cent growth on the 2016 figure of £24m – and that at break-even EBITDA. The consensus for FY18 is around £70 million revenue with anything between £2m-£3m net profit.

Maintaining a thread of life science success stories, Owlstone Medical – our Life Science Innovation Award winner in 2016 is taking the world of medicine by storm with its disease breathalyser, ReCIVA. In July CEO Billy Boyle revealed that an unprecedented clinical trial of the technology had been agreed with Cancer Research UK and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The breath biopsy diagnostic is being tested across multiple cancer types including bladder, breast, head and neck, kidney, oesophageal, pancreatic, prostate cancers and brain tumours. Early detection dramatically increases a cancer patient’s chances of survival. 

The Business Weekly Awards has identified scores of game-changing propositions down the years and spurred the protagonists to greater glories. This could well be your year – but you have to be in it to win it. 

Entries will be taken until December 31 when the guillotine goes down. Our forensic sponsor Mills & Reeve visits as many companies as possible to provide judges with fulsome reports.

A distinguished judging panel will decide which companies should be shortlisted. Some may be invited to a meeting of the panel to deal with unanswered questions or expand on certain areas of the business that judges feel could be differentiators. 

All entrants will be kept informed of progress.

A shortlist will be published by the end of February and shortlisted companies will be invited to attend the dinner where winners will be announced Oscar-style on the night. The invitation-only Business Weekly Awards presentation dinner will be held at Queens’ College, Cambridge, on Wednesday March 21, 2018.

Serial entrepreneur Hermann Hauser described the Awards night in March as “a fabulous showcase of all the best in the region’s business galaxy and quite the best business event in the calendar.”

Hermann Hauser Business Weekly Awards
Dr Hermann Hauser

New-look category line-up

Whatever line of business your company is in, the Awards categories have been broadened to recognise your achievements.

Cambridge Enterprise’s support of the Awards this year brings two new categories: one recognising the lifetime achievement of local influencers in any walk of life, and the other to honour game-changing academics exploiting university IP. 

The academic award demonstrates the link between university IP and the commercialisation of it by influencers that Business Weekly christened ‘Dontrepreneurs’ some 25 years ago.

The university’s Cambridge Judge Business School has broadened the remit of two categories which it supports.

The Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award is for a woman entrepreneur who can demonstrate outstanding achievements in the last 12 months and who inspires and nurtures other women to excel. This category is open not just to women who have founded companies but also to those at the head of startups.

Judge’s Graduate Business of the Year category is for a Cambridge-based company that has shown outstanding commercial potential or success over the last 12 months. It can either have been founded by a Cambridge University alumnus or significantly contributed to the employment and retention locally of Cambridge graduate talent. 

Companies can enter as many categories as they wish and a Business of the Year will be chosen from all the shortlisted companies, regardless of which category they have entered.

In choosing the Business of the Year, judges are seeking the one with a real wow factor – a quality demonstrated in spades by the latest winner, Darktrace. 

The categories

Startup of the Year: For the most exciting startup enterprise in any sector founded in the last 12 months.

Graduate Business of the Year: For a Cambridge-based company that has shown outstanding commercial potential or success over the last 12 months, either founded by a Cambridge University alumnus or which has significantly contributed to the employment and retention locally of Cambridge graduate  talent. 

Engineering Excellence: For the engineering or manufacturing company that is deemed to have done most for the cause of industry in the last 12 months.

Disruptive Technology: For the company in any sector whose science or technology is deemed to be genuinely game-changing.

International Trade Champion: For a company in any industry that has significantly broadened its export sales or access to global markets.

Cambridge Enterprise Lifetime Achievement Award: To recognise an extraordinary career devoted to innovation and commercial success for the benefit of society and the UK economy.

Life Science Innovation: For the organisation or individual who has done the most to further the cause of life science discovery for the benefit of human healthcare.

Cambridge Judge Business School Woman Entrepreneur of the Year: For a woman entrepreneur who can demonstrate outstanding achievements in the last 12 months and who inspires and nurtures other women to excel. 

Kate Gross Award for Social Enterprise: For the individual or organisation that has done most to further the cause of social enterprise in the last year.

Cambridge Enterprise Academic Entrepreneur of the Year: For outstanding work by an academic as an innovator, founder or consultant in the past 12 months.

The Judges

There can be no better testimonial for how highly the Business Weekly Awards are regarded than the loyalty of the long term judges.

Sir Michael Marshall, president of the Cambridge cluster’s largest industrial business – Marshall of Cambridge – and entrepreneur & investor Dr Hermann Hauser have been involved since the Awards began.

John Lee, CFO at international technology company DisplayLink and Charles Cotton, inspiration behind the Cambridge Phenomenon company and global evangelist for the cluster, are other long-term stalwarts.

Richard Longdon, formerly CEO of Cambridge software business AVEVA and a shrewd judge of a potential global winner, is staying involved with the judging process despite having vacated his corporate role in December. So, too, is Harriet Fear who has moved back into the corporate world after stepping down as CEO at One Nucleus, the life science membership organisation.

Another stalwart of the process is the award-winning angel investor, Peter Cowley. He is chair of the influential Cambridge Angels and also directs two angel investment vehicles for the Marshall Group.

Sherry Coutu and other serial entrepreneurs are contributing to the process, physically or digitally, depending on commitments.

To that can be added the experienced judges representing all the sponsors, including Tony Raven of Cambridge Enterprise. The University’s Judge Business School sponsors both the Cambridge Graduate and Women Entrepreneur of the Year Awards and is expected to be represented on the panel by dynamic Accelerator programme leader Hanadi Jabado.

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