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#21toWatch expands support for start-ups across East of England





As interest grows in #21toWatch, the annual awards programme which celebrates the cream of new innovators and innovations from the region, a flurry of new supporters have come on board including Appleyard Lees, Crayfish.io, The Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, the University of East Anglia and Norwich Research Park.

Howard Read, partner of leading IP firm Appleyard Lees, said: "We are delighted to be part of #21toWatch this year and rubbing shoulders with so many high calibre spin outs, start-ups and scale-ups. To be successful, you need more than a brilliant innovation: a robust IP strategy is essential to achieve your business goals, including attracting investors."

Howard Read
Howard Read

The importance of IP is echoed by Ting Zhang, founder and CEO of Crayfish.io, who said: “Crayfish.io is proud to be part of #21toWatch 2024. Since its launch six years ago, we have witnessed the event growing into an important source of inspiration to the aspiring entrepreneurs in our diverse community. Crayfish.io helps to demystify some of the issues that are most concerning when it comes to operating in China, from protecting intellectual property to finding the right partners and hiring local talent.”

Ting Zhang
Ting Zhang

The #21toWatch campaign - supported again this year by the Cambridge Independent - also welcomes supporters from further afield and an influx of nominations from the broader Eastern region are expected.

Prof Sheng Qi, associate dean of innovation at UEA, and Dr Soraya Jones, Royal Society entrepreneur in residence for UEA, added: “At UEA, we pride ourselves in research and innovation that will have an impact in the world in which we live. We create innovations to solve real-world problems. This is why we are extremely delighted to support #21toWatch because it is a programme that really showcases innovative and trailblazing companies that go on to do impactful things in the world.”

Prof Sheng Qi, associate dean of innovation at UEA
Prof Sheng Qi, associate dean of innovation at UEA

Faye Holland, #21toWatch creator and director of specialist tech PR agency cofinitive, said: “By expanding partnerships across the East of England we are encouraging even broader participation in this our sixth year. It is testament to the campaign that we are attracting partners not just in the innovation capital of Cambridge, but across the region and we are thrilled to be working alongside University of East Anglia and Norwich Research Park.”

They now join long-term sponsors Ashtons Legal, Birketts LLP, HSBC, Keltie, EBCam, Penningtons Manches Cooper, Kao Data, The Growth Hub, Form the Future CIC, The Bradfield Centre and University of Cambridge’s impulse programme – which are all an intrinsic part of the hugely successful Cambridge ecosystem.

Ashtons Legal, a full-service law firm, is a loyal supporter of #21toWatch with this being its fourth year of sponsoring the campaign.

David Sloman, senior associate, Ashtons Legal
David Sloman, senior associate, Ashtons Legal

David Sloman, senior associate, said “Ashtons’ is delighted to continue their support of the #21toWatch campaign and are excited to see another diverse cohort. Thanks to our involvement we get to meet the businesses and founders up close and get fully embedded in them as they grow.”

Faye continues: “I am thrilled to welcome new perspectives to the programme and remain humbled by the ongoing commitment and support we have from our long-term partners. A great, working ecosystem is about more than the academic brilliance and spin outs, it’s about the wider support system too, and that is an important part of #21toWatch.”

Yupar Myint, head of the impulse programme at the Maxwell Centre. Picture: RIchard Marsham
Yupar Myint, head of the impulse programme at the Maxwell Centre. Picture: RIchard Marsham

Yupar Myint, head of impulse programme, University of Cambridge, said: “impulse supports tech innovators in making great ideas possible. Partnering with cofinitive's #21toWatch energises our efforts to recognise and reward the hard work of our alumni as they embark on their first business ventures. Congratulations to the cofinitive team for this remarkable initiative.”

The initiative is not only great exposure for those who make the coveted list, but also the sponsors and partners who get early access to some of the most promising new ventures and opportunities on the longlist, shortlist and Top21. By introducing those on the listings to investors, service providers, professional services companies, and support networks the #21toWatch programme can facilitate vital connections that help homegrown talent to succeed.

Steph Butcher, director of EBCam Ltd
Steph Butcher, director of EBCam Ltd

Steph Butcher, director of EBCam Ltd, said: “We are delighted to be a part of the #21toWatch campaign for another year! It is always great to see and hear about the exciting people, companies and ‘things’ Cambridge has to offer. As leading employee benefit specialists and independent financial advisors we want to see, and help, companies and their employees thrive.”

Those who are announced as Top21 winners benefit from a host of prizes offered by the sponsors and partners worth up to £20,000. These have previously included free business consultancy services, the chance to feature on a podcast and media features, free banking, and a tailored session on anything from the brand to an IP strategy.

Closing date for submissions

Closing date for submissions is 12pm on January 12, 2024 and the shortlist will be announced in February. A panel of independent judges will determine the Top21 who will be unveiled at the annual awards event on March 7, 2024.

You can make your nomination or submission for #21toWatch and find out more about the programme at www.cofinitive.com/21toWatch and by following #21toWatch on social media.

#21toWatch was founded by cofinitive director Faye Holland
#21toWatch was founded by cofinitive director Faye Holland

On the long list

Some of those already highlighted in the long list include:

People – Mark Golab, co-founder of Cambridge Surgical Models, Zahra Jawad, CEO of Creasallis, Chantal Epp, founder and CEO of ClicknClear.

Companies – Supersense Technologies, clock.bio, Kuano, Aila Biotech Ltd

Things Heartfelt Technologies, Drawing Experiences, Gus the automated asparagus picker, Words.Tel



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