South Coast: Tech Awards showcases region’s top tech businesses

The first-ever South Coast Tech Awards proved a highly popular platform to recognise the region’s outstanding tech businesses. Over 200 guests attended the event at the Hilton at the Ageas Bowl for an evening of lively celebration.

The awards are sponsored by Aura Technology, Onecom, Sanderson, Wilkins Kennedy, BDB Pitmans, Irwin Mitchell, Smith & Williamson, University of Southampton Science Park, Hilton at the Ageas Bowl, and Carswell Gould.

“We wanted to make sure that the Tech Awards ranged across as many fields as possible and truly reflected the diverse nature of tech in the South Coast,” said Peter Laurie, client relations manager at awards organiser The Business Magazine.

He added: “A few years ago, tech was never a sector that you could say was synonymous with Southampton and the South Coast. But that has all changed.”

Technology presenter and computer scientist Spencer Kelly hosted the awards. The presenter of BBC TV’s Click tech show gave an insight into his own interactions with innovative technologies, ranging from light sabres, daleks to robot spiders.

Kelly also highlighted how eastern cultures embrace technology in ways the west doesn’t, and gave his view on what the UK might look like in 2025.

On the evening, guests raised £4,540 for Wetwheels. The charity helps build the confidence of people with disabilities by providing the opportunity to access the sea in a fun, safe and rewarding way.

THE WINNERS

Tech Start-up – Sponsored by Southampton Science Park

The finalists:

AudioScenic

Liberatii

Red Volcano

Threat Status

And the winner is…

Threat Status

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“We’re delighted and very surprised to win. This is a very rewarding moment for us. Threat Status is a new company and we’re building a product out of our passion for something we feel is an important problem for the internet. In the two years since we started the volume of cyber threats has exploded and we have to keep up with this technical challenge. From the beginning, we have had SME customers in mind because they are poorly served by larger cyber security companies.”

Jon Inns, CEO, Threat Status

Judges’ comments:

This company has developed excellent cybercrime technology capable of searching billions of data sets for compromised passwords or usernames. We were impressed by their offer of a free starter version to SMEs to make combatting cybercrime more affordable. Since our winner launched in 2017 it has attracted attention from banks, insurers, the military and the UK Government.


High Growth Tech Business – Sponsored by Wilkins Kennedy

The finalists:

Agile Network Systems

Cobweb Solutions

Cybrid Solutions

And the winner is…

Cobweb Solutions

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“This award is all about the team. It is brilliant recognition for everyone at Cobweb and will make them proud about who they work for. We aim to deliver amazing experiences for our customers because it’s easy for them to move to other cloud solution providers. Carrying out customer surveys and continually reviewing what we do has helped us achieve a Net Promoter Score of 82 and our employee bonuses are tied to customer satisfaction. Our average customer has 40 users and we now have 8,000 customers.”

Michael Frisby, MD, Cobweb Solutions

Judges’ comments:

We were impressed by this company’s turnover growth and its high net promoter score. It is a Microsoft 365 and Azure distributor and as a Microsoft Gold partner it helps SMEs increase productivity and secure their business IT, as well as optimise IT infrastructure and licencing. The company has doubled revenue in the last two years and increased profit growth by 170%.


Tech Employer – Sponsored by Sanderson plc

The finalists:

Apps in the Sky

Benefex

Digi Toolbox

ITDev

Netpay Solutions Group

And the winner is…

ITDev

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“It’s fantastic to win. Being Tech Employer of the Year is very much about the whole team because our company is all about the personalities of the people who work here. As we have grown we have put more effort into putting things in place that maintain our business culture, like setting out our company values and introducing an employee reward scheme. It’s hard to find good people and we are proud to have a lot of long servers at ITDev. If you look after your team they will look after your customers and the business.”

Andy Culmer, engineering director, ITDev

Judges’ comments:

Our winner has a very strong business culture based around flexible working and wellness, with support from managers at the top of the organisation. They encourage and support staff to upskill and advocate promotion from within. The number of long servers in their ranks demonstrates strong employee loyalty. They also encourage staff to engage with directors, as well as undertake career-focused training activities. An open-plan office and family atmosphere ensures staff find it easier to support each other.


Innovative Tech Company – Sponsored by Onecom

The finalists:

Innovative Physics

jisp

NetPay Solutions Group

Threat Status

And the winner is…

Innovative Physics

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“It’s pretty amazing to win this award. Customers come to us with problems and we create solutions for them. Fukushima nuclear power plant chose us rather than a larger technology company because we could find a sensor technology solution more quickly – in about nine months rather than two or three years. We have also successfully completed trials of our technology for lung cancer detection and are now looking for partners, and have started developing a prostate cancer testing sensor.”

Victoria Anderson-Matthew, business development officer, Innovative Physics

Judges’ comments:

This company has shown great potential using sensor technology and AI for radiation monitoring, which is being applied in healthcare with cancer detection trials. Its bespoke sensor technology for detecting radiation is being used in the decontamination of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant.


Tech Leadership Team – Sponsored by Irwin Mitchell

The finalists:

Apps in the Sky

Benefex

Onecom

Zylpha

And the winner is…

Onecom

SCTA-2019-for-web-64


“The whole leadership team came tonight. We’ve been on such a journey this year so are very proud to win. As a team, we try to be honest with each other and the rest of the organisation. We like to hold a mirror up to ourselves. We’re plain speaking and are prepared to have difficult conversations in a friendly, family environment. We care about each other, but are prepared to challenge each other – like a family. The business is on a big growth trajectory and our CEO Ben Dowd has laid out Onecom’s ambition to be the best place to work in our sector.”

Sarah Van Michael, customer and marketing director, Onecom

Judges’ comments:

Our winning team has shown persistence and built trust as they deliver on a business strategy that embraces agility and an entrepreneurial spirt. All this is being achieved following a recent MBO. The team’s strategy is clearly understood by everyone in the company. Having achieved Silver level Investors in People status, the leadership team has its sights set on Gold and then Platinum.


Science & Technology Award – Sponsored by Smith & Williamson

The finalists:

Cybrid Solutions

Ilika Technologies

Tonic Analytics

Utonomy

And the winner is…

Tonic Analytics

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“Fantastic! When we looked at the other finalists we thought we were just along for the ride. I’m tremendously proud for the whole team at Tonic. From the outset, we have designed our technology to be applicable to different industries. Using data from multiple sources enables our customers to create a ‘digital twin’ of what is happening in the real world for predictive analysis. Our objective is to make use of the latest technologies to provide very cost-effective solutions that can be rapidly deployed with high re-use applications.”

Andy Dollin, COO, Tonic Analytics

Judges’ comments:

We were impressed with this company’s growth and profitability. Its proprietary data analytics technology has applications in a wide range of industry sectors. The cloud-based technology supports automated data capture from machines, people, processes and the environments in which they operate. The company works in the airline, oil and gas, road transport, public safety and law enforcement sectors, with around 80% of its sales coming from overseas.


Marine Tech Company – Sponsored by Aura Technology

The finalists:

Forty1 Kitesurfing

Spinlock

And the winner is…

Spinlock

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“Absolutely delighted to win. Data-based sailing products are a new sector for us. They sit alongside our sailboat and personal safety equipment products. We invested in a tech start-up company to work with us to create the sail data products. It’s taken us about two years to develop the technology and we are now seeing multiple applications in sailing, such as how UV light affects sails. Customers are both end users and the trade and we are persuading the market about the many benefits of using our data platform.”

Chris Hill, CEO, Spinlock

Judges’ comments:

Our winner has an impressive track record in personal safety products and is a remarkable success story in developing technology for sail monitoring and management. It has recently developed data-related sailing products for asset tracking and improving the management of sails using apps linked by Bluetooth. The company is the official lifejacket supplier to the Clipper round the world yacht race.


South Coast Tech Company – Sponsored by BDB Pitmans

The finalists:

Innovative Physics

NetPay Solutions

Signly

Silver Lining Convergence

Tonic Analytics

And the winner is…

Innovative Physics

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“We’re blown away. To win one SCTA is amazing; two is unbelievable. Our business is about taking our core technology and adapting it to whatever customers need. Our approach is that we never want to be beaten on price. We’ll adapt our products, for example, with different detector cameras, to bring down the cost but without compromising on our main USP. Winning two South Coast Tech Awards is so prestigious for us. We export about 99% of our products, mainly to Japan, China and the US. The awards will be extremely important for us, particularly in Asian markets, as it shows we have the quality and endorsements of our technology that customers look for.”

Victoria Anderson-Matthew, business development officer, Innovative Physics

Judges’ comments:

This company sets itself apart in the market due to its unique, bespoke approaches to solving complex engineering obstacles. Its ground-breaking technology is pioneering in its field and is proven to be more accurate and cost-effective than other alternatives.