Loughborough University’s bi-annual Enterprise Awards were celebrated, and the winners announced, last month.

We were thrilled to welcome more than 130 guests – including many of our public and private sector partners – to the ceremony on LUSEP, the University’s Science and Enterprise Park, to recognise the best of our enterprising academics and graduates.

But the Awards represent much more than a one-off evening’s celebration. They’re an excellent way to share success stories while supporting the networks that nurture new areas of work.

Panning for gold

Preparations for the Awards night started in the depths of winter, when we shortlisted the nominees.

As ever, I was staggered by the breadth of entrants and the far-reaching impact of their work. Sifting them down to a shortlist is always a long and really tough job.

But it’s also a rewarding way to learn about the game-changing research and partnerships thriving across campus – many of which aren’t widely known as colleagues tend to focus on doing the work rather than shouting about it.

Empowering our academics to be their own advocates is one the main reasons for the Awards campaign.

Create once, publish everywhere

The Enterprise Awards give us plenty of material to champion the University’s very strong ethos for partnership work that translates research into far-reaching impacts.

All of the assets – including a dedicated website and short films – feature the Loughborough experts and their influential external partners. Everything is optimised for sharing across multiple platforms – the University’s and our partners – for maximum longevity.

Through the creation of strong digital toolkits, we empower academics and their partners to promote their achievements to the widest possible audience – and stand out.

In the few weeks that have passed since the Awards, it’s a pleasure to hear how our digital story telling has helped academics to enhance their profile with partners and with funders, and has even led to new collaborations.

Encouraging engagement

This year, our nominees were shortlisted across three categories with almost 5,000 public votes cast to decide the winner of the Impact Award. The winners of the Commercial Potential and Partnership Awards were decided by a judging panel.

Encouraging engagement via the public vote is always very positive, and we’re grateful to everyone who takes part. The voting is a great way to share – and increase the reach of – the constructive impacts of our research-industry partnerships. What’s more, I believe that the process can help to cement existing partnerships in a novel way.

Nurturing networks

The Awards also provide a good way to open wider conversations about the University’s extensive expertise and how organisations can access it.

Inviting so many of our partners to campus for the Awards gives them the chance to catch up with their existing academic collaborators – but also the opportunity to meet potential new ones.

It’s always really gratifying to receive feedback about emerging partnerships after the Awards night – they’re fundamental to so much of what we do as a University.

They enable successful enterprise activities, help strengthen research, support teaching, and provide student placements and graduate employment.

What’s more, hosting the Awards at LUSEP offers partners a taste of the facilities and benefits of locating part – if not all – of their operations with us.

Indeed, I’m thrilled to say that six of the finalists in this year’s Awards have established a base on the Park.

These are just some of the reasons why we hold our annual Enterprise Awards. They really do offer a win-win way to celebrate our achievements, whilst cementing existing partnerships and nurturing new ones.

And finally…

So, for at least another year, many congratulations to the finalists of the 2019 Enterprise Awards. It really is a pleasure to advocate their outstanding work that is having such a positive impact locally, nationally and across the world. Here’s a summary of the winners, and of course, you can find out more online.

  • Impact
    Map-matching and crash-mapping algorithms which have helped reduce accidents and congestion on Britain’s roads, in partnership with Highways England and AECOM
  • Partnerships
    Rolls-Royce – the University’s long-standing collaboration has helped transform the way Rolls-Royce researches, designs tests and delivers cutting-edge technology to market
  • Commercial Potential
    FloodMap Live – a unique real-time street-level flood prediction solution developed to save lives and livelihoods worldwide

Special awards for Outstanding Potential were made to Alcuris and INCUS Performance – fast-scaling tech companies founded on LUSEP by recent Product Design Engineering graduates Alex Nash and Chris Ruddock which have collectively raised in excess of £2 million investment and created 25 highly skilled technical jobs, rising to 32 by the end of this year.