The awards are judged by an esteemed panel of industry leaders and experts, the judging is a rigorous two-stage process including pre-scoring to determine shortlists and a judging meeting where entries are discussed and evaluated in detail to decide the winning entries.

From a transparency perspective, we may video aspects of the judging session to show on the evening and to give entrants an insight into why a winning entry was chosen.

The 2018 judging panel included:

Gen Ashley

Director, Women Who Code |

Gen is the Founder of TECH(K)NOW Day - a conference focused on Women in Technology.  She is also a Director of Women Who Code London and is a very active leader in the Tech community in London. Aside from her involvement with Women Who Code she is a Lead for Google Women Techmakers London, NASA Space Apps Challenge London, Twitter Developer Community London and Google Developer Groups London.  She is also part of the leadership committee for Ada's List (a network for women in technology). She is co-organiser of COED:CODEOpenTechSchool London and London Game Developers. She was the Head of Developer Outreach at Skills Matter and a former VP / Business Development Manager / Project Manager at Citigroup. Gen helped lead Anita Borg Institute London and was actively instrumental in delivering the very first 1-Day Grace Hopper Conference in Europe (GHC/1 which is now called HopperX1) which was held in London.   She was recently awarded as MVP (Most Valuable Professional) by Microsoft.

Ruth Badger

Ruth Badger Consultancy / Everything Tech |

Ruth Badger grew up in Wolverhampton.  At 16 she left full time education, with just three GCSE’s to join a Youth Training Scheme within the Civil Service.  Progressing through the early stages of her career Ruth worked in various roles to build up her experience. This included jobs with Yates, Wolves Football Club and then to a finance company called Purple Loans.

Ruth’s big break came after Purple Loans were bought by one of the world’s biggest companies, GE Capital. Starting with no experience, Ruth quickly excelled and was promoted 4 times in just 18 months. Ruth was awarded 4 company awards including Employee of the Year based on her performance. In 2002 at the age of 23, Ruth won the accolade of National Employee of the Year for GE Capital receiving an all expenses cruise around Europe with the Senior Executives of GE.

Not content with her success in 2002, Ruth left GE Capital to join the Executive Board of a North-West finance company called Compass Finance. At the age of 24 Ruth was appointed to Head of Sales and Operations and doubled her earnings. Within 2 years Ruth, transformed the company’s performance and turnover increasing it from 3.1 million to 13.1 million which led to the floatation of the business in 2004.

Then, in 2005 the opportunity arose to apply for “The Apprentice”

Chosen from over 60,000 applicants, Ruth proved week after week that she was the top performer in the show and excelled at all tasks. Outselling all other Executives in each task, Ruth consistently demonstrated her business acumen and ability. Ruth left the series after working for Lord Alan Sugar for 6 months in an Executive role.

Ruth’s numerous TV credits include her self-named business trouble shooting show “Badger or Bust” which aired in the UK, America, and Australia. The Big Idea which aired on Sky 1 and countless other appearances on Question Time, Newsnight, GMTV, BBC Breakfast, Pointless, You’re Fired, The Wright Show and many more.

Ruth has spent the last 11 years building her business empire. The Ruth Badger Consultancy Ltd specialises in helping SME’s start, grow and improve. Over the last 11 years The Ruth Badger Consultancy has helped over 452 small businesses launch and over 381 grow and beat the difficult trading conditions. In 2010 Ruth launched Everything Tech Limited which is now an award-winning IT support business. In 2016 Ruth acquired Everything Comms and Dev Capsule which are both international based IT businesses.

Ruth is walking proof that a positive can-do attitude can get you where you want to be in business and in life! 

Laura Bartlett

Founder, House of CoCo |

Laura Bartlett is 31 and the founder of luxury  travel brand House of CoCo.

Her all-female team flies all over the world to cover travel stories for the magazine and House of Coco is currently sold in the likes of Harrods and Selfridges in London with plans to expand to different cities around the world over the next year.

The entrepreneur launched her first company at just 23 years old with zero funding. Her travel magazine is now the third best seller worldwide on 

Laura IH Bennett

Sheffield City Region LEP Board | PhD Researcher | Freelance Consultant |

Laura began a PhD at Sheffield University Management School in 2017, supervised by Professor Tim Vorley and Dr Chay Brooks. She is researching entrepreneurial ecosystems; specifically the social connections / networks between entrepreneurs that enable them to access the support, advice, and finance they need in order to grow their businesses. She hopes to leverage this knowledge to close the loop between policy and practice, so that cities can foster a productive environment in which entrepreneurship can flourish.

Laura is a private sector Board member for the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (SCR LEP), specialising in the digital economy and entrepreneurship. She sits on two SCR sub-boards on Business Growth, and Skills, Enterprise, and Education. Alongside her PhD and LEP board responsibilities, Laura works as a freelancer. She has delivered workshops about the digital economy and entrepreneurship to policy-makers across Europe and local councils in the UK. In 2017, she authored a report on the Creative Digital sector in Sheffield, commissioned by the University of Sheffield and Creative Sheffield.

Laura has designed, built, and run bespoke business support and peer-to- peer learning programmes for digital tech entrepreneurs, including Founders’ Network for Tech North, the Startup MBA for Founder Centric, and the Startup Tribe for Escape the City. Laura holds a First Class BA degree in French & Hispanic Studies (2007) from the University of Birmingham, and an MSc in Globalisation and Latin American Development (2008) from the University of London.


Tom Cheesewright


Tom Cheesewright is the founder of applied futurism practice Book of the Future, helping organisations to see, share and respond to a coherent vision of tomorrow. Tom followed a degree in Mechatronic Engineering with 14 years in the tech industry, working with global brands such as BT, EE and IBM, and subsequently founded a series of technology-driven companies. Most recently he co-founded venture-backed big data analytics start-up CANDDi (, of which he remains a shareholder.

Tom is a frequent presence on TV and radio, appearing as the resident futurist on Channel 4's Sunday Brunch and across the BBC from the Breakfast sofa to World Business Report, and as a regular contributor to 5live and Radio 4. 

Elizabeth Clark

CEO, Dream Agility |

Elizabeth Clark is the CEO, co-founder and chairman of multi-award winning Dream Agility. She is an international conference speaker and bestselling author.

Dream Agility is a Google Premier Partner and one of only 35 Google approved Shopping Partners in the world.

With two patents pending, their award-winning second-generation cloud-based Adtech sits between the retailer & Google/Bing/etc, optimising data on the fly and making net profit related bid recommendations, delivering industry-beating uplift for retailers.

Based in Ramsbottom, Paris, Atlanta and Melbourne, Dream Agility remains at the forefront of its sector and has recently secured the first ever cross-faculty Knowledge Transfer Partnership (research program) between Manchester Business School and University of Manchester, on an AI, machine learning/ neural networks enhancement piece for their platform.

Louize Clarke

Co-founder, ConnectTVT |

Louize Clarke, co-founder of start-up accelerator ConnectTVT, has been described by some as a ‘legend’.

The brains behind GROW@Green Park in Reading, she showed BusinessCloud editor Chris Maguire around her co-working space.

With ‘a beating heart and a vibrant eco-system’, its aim is to inspire and connect passionate, like-minded people who want to make a difference through business.

Prior to hosting a roundtable discussion for us, Clarke talked about her career and the tech scene in the Thames Valley.

She stressed the importance of investment, and the need for a tech sector full of start-ups to be given a home – like her collaborative space in Reading.

Dr Katy Cook

Founder, Centre for Technology Awareness |

Katy is the founder of the Centre for Technology Awareness, a non-profit organisation that aims to raise awareness about the human and social impacts of technology. Her most recent research looks at the values and psychology of the tech industry and will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2019.  

Katy holds a BA with  in English Literature from the University of San Diego (2006), an MA in Counselling Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute (2009), an MA in Modernism and Culture from University College London (2011), and a  PhD  in Psychology and Modernism from University College London (2016).

Amy De-Balsi

Founder, Herd |

Amy De-Balsi is the owner of the Leeds Digital Job Fair and job board as well as her own consultancy company.  Amy has recently been involved in Elmwood’s LaunchPod Accelerator, Leeds Trinity Universities new Computer Science degree and FutureLabs tech hub.

Prior to starting the company Amy worked for Sky in Leeds for 7 years delivering a range of activities from online products to major events. 

During her career Amy has also worked in the public sector for the Regional Development Agency, Yorkshire Forward, responsible for promoting the region’a digital cluster.

Chris Dymond

Director, Sheffield Digital |

Chris has spent most of the last 20 years building web development companies and designing websites for corporate & public sector clients. He now runs a digital transformation and innovation company called Unfolding, which helps organisations and cities adapt to change by building their capability to employ digital technology, data and networks both digital and human.


Richard Gregory

Digital Director & Non-Exec |

Richard is former Director of Tech North, where he lead a team supporting the Northern Tech Community through programmes, such as Northern Stars and Founders Network, promoting entrepreneurs and tech companies in the North of England, addressing the skills and talent gap, and liaising with government on initiatives affecting the sector.

Richard is the non-exec chairman of Ruler Analytics, co-founder of SAScon - a digital marketing conference, and Manchester Digital council member.

Prior to Tech North Richard was the MD of Latitude, a digital marketing agency.

Dr David J Hardman MBE

Managing Director, Innovation Birmingham Limited |

David’s career over the last twenty years has been in knowledge transfer; working at the interface between applied research and commercial application and exploitation. His expertise and interests are directed at creating appropriate partnerships and infrastructures to promote the development and success of cross sectorial knowledge-based businesses.

He started out as a PhD microbiologist, with research interests in the application of microbes in what is now described as ‘clean technology’. In 1992 co-founded and led a start-up biotech venture and this experience developed into a wider interest in the translation of science into good and applicable technologies.

In 1998 he moved to the Babraham Institute in Cambridge to establish and lead a wholly owned trading subsidiary, Babraham Bioscience Technologies Ltd. As a knowledge transfer company the focus became the development of the commercial aspects of the Babraham Research Campus.

In 2008 he moved to Birmingham to develop and implement a new strategy to build on the legacy of what was then Aston Science Park’s 27 year history. This resulted in the creation of the Innovation Birmingham Campus; an urban focal point promoting digital innovation across all sectors that impact the smart city agenda.

David was awarded an MBE for contributions to Science in 2009 and more recently was recognised as the 2017 Inspiring Leader, by Birmingham Young Professionals.



Scott Henderson

Managing Director, Jumpstart |

Scott has enjoyed a vibrant career across a range of industries in both large and small companies. He has been MD of a newspaper company and CEO of a niche law firm which was sold to one of Scotland’s largest law firms. Scott has held senior roles in Marketing, Sales, Operations and Finance in AEGON, Scottish Widows and RBS.

His educational background is equally colourful: a BSc in Anatomy & Biochemistry from Dundee University, an MBA from Edinburgh University and a post-graduate diploma in Marketing from Edinburgh Napier University. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and a Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Scott is married with three children and lives in Edinburgh. A onetime ski instructor, golfer and sailor, he is trying hard to maintain these pursuits despite the demands of a young family, busy job and middle age…in that order!

Anne-Marie Imafidon

CEO, Head Stemette & Co-founder of Stemettes |

After passing two GCSEs aged ten, Anne-Marie Imafidon was destined for great things.

She is CEO, ‘Head Stemette’ & co-founder of Stemettes which has inspired over 14,000 girls & young women into STEM.

She co-founded the world’s first tech incubator for teenage girls and at 27 was awarded an MBE for services to young women and STEM.

Jamil Khalil

Founder & CEO, Wakelet |

Former Airbus tech lead Jamil Khalil is the brainchild behind Manchester-based content sharing web platform Wakelet, which enables users to organise any content on the internet.

Jamil has received investment from a number of high-profile investors, including Chillingo founders Chris Byatte and Joe Wee, a platform which specialised in publishing games by independent developers on mobile platforms, including Angry Birds.

Rob Mukherjee


Rob has spent the last 15 years of his career in various senior leadership roles, focusing on unlocking the potential of businesses and communities through the power of people and technology.  That theme now continues in his role at the helm of EveryCloud, an independent cloud security consultancy that helps businesses implement their digital transformation strategies, safely and confidently taking advantage of all that the cloud has to offer.

An influential player in the Northern Powerhouse agenda, Rob is a regular speaker on matters relating to diversity and inclusion, technology and the future of work - and has won a string of awards including the Women In Sales Awards "Best Male Mentor" category in December 2017 and the Northern Power Women "Agent of Change" award in March 2018.  He also appeared in the Financial Times EMpower Top 100 Ethnic Minority Executive list in May 2018, the Financial Times HERoes Top 50 Male Champions of Women In Business list in September 2018 and the Top 100 BAME Leaders In Business list in October 2018.

Rob is also a Trustee on the board of GreaterSport, a charity passionate about changing lives through sport and physical activity.

Vikas Shah MBE

CEO, Swiscot Group |

Professor Vikas S. Shah is an award-winning entrepreneur, strategist and educator who has built businesses in diverse sectors around the world for almost 20 years.  He is also a consultant and advisor to numerous entrepreneurs, business and organisations globally.

Vikas is managing director and CEO of Swiscot Group, a leading textiles and commodities trading business with clients globally. He is also founder of the consulting group Thought Strategy and CEO of the film company, Fifty Three Degrees North.

Alongside his business interests, Vikas is Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship on the prestigious Lisbon MBA (with MIT Sloan School of Management) teaching at Católica (Lisbon) and Nova School of Business and Economics.  He is a Board Member of The UK Industrial Development Advisory Board (IDAB) which advises the UK Government on the £2.4 billion Regional Growth Fund operating across England, supporting projects and programmes that lever private sector investment creating economic growth and sustainable employment.

Vikas is also a respected speaker and multi-award winning writer. For his journal ‘Thought Economics’ he has interviewed many of the world’s most influential thinkers including Sir Richard Branson, Buzz Aldrin, Maya Angelou, Noam Chomsky and more than 12 Nobel Laureates in economics, sciences and peace building. Vikas is on the Editorial Board of the Chartered Alternative Investment Association and is a columnist for British Airways Business Life alongside having been a contributor to publications including .net magazine.  He is regularly called upon to provide commentary and opinion and has featured in publications including Director, the Economist, The Guardian and CNBC.

Philanthropy is a key interest of Vikas. He is a board member of TiE UK North (part of the world’s largest entrepreneurs network) and frequently guest speaks and lectures at entrepreneurship events around the world (including the MIT Global Startup Workshop and the RICE Business Plan Competition).  Vikas is also Chair of FutureEverything (one of the world’s most influential festivals and social enterprises, focused on digital culture) and on the Council of Manchester Digital (the industry body representing digital industries in the North of England).  He is a Trustee of Mustard Tree (a charity helping tens of thousands impacted by homelessness, marginalisation and poverty) and is Executive Patron of Manchester Cancer Research Centre. He is also the Founding Patron of Life Fit (a major mental health campaign) and advisor to over a dozen charities in the North of England and internationally.

Vikas has attended Manchester University (UMIST), Manchester Business School, Cambridge Judge Business School and the ICMA Centre (Henley Business School). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufacturing and Commerce, and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.  Vikas was awarded the Freedom of the City of London in May 2013.

Gavin Wheeldon

CEO, Purple |

Purple was founded like many a great company: through frustration with a service, product or unfulfilled need.

During his various travels (particularly with business), CEO Gavin Wheeldon realised that public Wi-Fi lacked a positive user experience in every element, from design and login methods, to the simplest of features, like responsiveness across varying devices.

With a passion for technology, problem solving, and business, Wheeldon then founded Purple in 2012 to tackle the issues surrounding Public WiFi.

Since then, Purple has helped to meet an industry wide demand for social Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi analytics, and Wi-Fi marketing which never existed before.

With over 15 years’ experience working in technology-led or enabled businesses, setting up Purple was second nature to Wheeldon – he founded Purple with an existing, deep understanding of the impact of technology on an organisation, and with previous business success, had the knowhow and resources needed to grow his idea and attract investors.

But it was not without risk: until 2015, three years into operating, Purple was funded by Wheeldon personally before receiving its first outside funding from Terry Leahy, Bill Currie, Iain MacDonald, Bob Willett and Juno Capital.

This allowed Wheeldon, the board of directors, and the rest of Team Purple to grow the company globally.

Purple has since received two additional rounds of funding from Boost&Co and existing investors, and the future is extremely promising.

Steve Wainwright

Co-founder, Futurelabs |

An experienced Chief Executive in the Tech industry (with nine years as a director of a fully listed Stock Market company) and a passion for growing businesses.

I delivered £50 million of value to shareholders during my time as Chief Executive of ICM, grew my first tech startup,, from tabletop to 63 countries before its sale to a US based competitor and have worked with a range of organisations from startups to plc's as an advisor/ board member helping them to innovate and take their business to the next level.

Now using tech to reimagine the way that Bricks and Mortar retail works.

I was voted one of the Maserati 100 for 2016 - an award which recognises people who give their time to develop the next generation of talent in the UK.

Jo York

Co-Founder and CCO, Ricochet Technologies |

Jo York is a tech entrepreneur and UX designer who's been working in the digital sector since 1998. She co-founded digital agency Ki Media, in 2007, and in 2013 Jo and her business partner Kev Price were accepted onto the Ignite Accelerator and founded the multi-award winning ReframedTV, bringing together live video and tweets. The ReframedTV video player was used by companies such as BBC, ICO and Trinity Mirror, raised half a million pounds from Angels and institutional investors, and achieved Twitter partner status. 

Jo's latest project is Ricochet is a technology startup that automates B2B sales prospecting to help SMEs spend less time researching leads and more time closing them. As well as being a co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer of Ricochet, Jo is also a trustee of the Newcastle Tech Trust, where she uses all she’s learned to support, advise and champion other tech startups and their founders