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Nominations for 2022 #21toWatch innovation awards open

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Nominations for the 2022 #21toWatch innovation awards are now open - and it is hoped there will be a record number of entries this year.

Faye Holland, founder of cofinitive and creator of #21toWatch
Faye Holland, founder of cofinitive and creator of #21toWatch

Celebrating groundbreaking talent across all technology sectors in Cambridge and East Anglia, the awards are the brainchild of Cambridge-based entrepreneur and technology investor Faye Holland and will once again be supported by the Cambridge Independent.

#21toWatch recognises 21 outstanding people, companies and innovations in the region, providing high-level exposure and kudos, and increasing opportunities for funding and investment for the winning candidates.

The awards represent an opportunity to nominate someone who stands out from the crowd, or something making a positive impact on the world.

With the Centre for Entrepreneurs reporting that a record 772,002 new businesses were launched in the UK during the pandemic, up some 13.25 per cent on the previous year, it could prove a great year to celebrate emerging talent.

Faye, the founder of integrated communications consultancy cofinitive, says: “I am enormously proud to live in the UK’s most inventive city, which receives four times the amount of tech investment per head than in London and has more patents published per resident than any other UK city. I can’t think of anywhere more exciting to work than here at the cutting edge of tech innovation.

“Every year, we are witness to exciting new technology start-ups and sectors emerging, and are blown away by the breadth of creative talent with each nomination we receive.

“We had a bumper year of nominations for #21toWatch in 2021 – and, similarly, we anticipate receiving a record number of submissions this year. One thing’s for sure, these are the people, companies and things that are inspiring and shaping our future.”

Jean de La Verpilliere, CEO Echion Technologies with the Battery Pouch. Picture: Keith Heppell
Jean de La Verpilliere, CEO Echion Technologies with the Battery Pouch. Picture: Keith Heppell

Being selected as one of the ‘Top21’ winners in the Company category last year kicked off an amazing year for Echion Technologies, maker of super-fast six-minute charging battery materials for electric cars. It recently completed a £10million Series A funding.

Dr Gita Khalili Moghaddam, founder of GlycoVue, with her #21toWatch award from 2021
Dr Gita Khalili Moghaddam, founder of GlycoVue, with her #21toWatch award from 2021

Gita Khalili Moghaddam, CEO of GlycoVue, is another Top21 2021 winner. Her award-winning imaging innovation is helping to improve surgical outcomes for brain tumour and breast cancer patients.

She says: “The response to the #21toWatch announcement was so good that two investors very quickly approached me.”

Agritech firm Herdsy, which produces the only technology to help beef farmers make their businesses more profitable, won in the 2020 ‘things’ category.

Herdsy was a winner in 2021
Herdsy was a winner in 2021

CEO Richard Hobson says: “Just being on the #21toWatch longlist raised our profile beyond our wildest expectations and changed our company direction forever.

“It was a gamechanger for our small company that put us on the radar of several high-profile customers and investors, which led to our company being profiled in the Sunday Times. People have actually heard of us now, and customers and investors google us and rate us amongst the best globally as a direct result. How many lists can you say that about?”

This year’s judging is set to be as tough as ever, with stringent qualifying processes in place.

Faye says: “The quality of the submissions, year on year, has ensured the indisputable credibility of #21toWatch, and it is widely regarded as a highly respected accolade to be listed in the prestigious Top21 – so it’s important to have a tough qualifying process in place. Good luck to all the entrants this year!”

The first three entrants revealed

The Cambridge Independent is delighted to reveal exclusively three of the first entrants to qualify and accept the nominations for their respective #21toWatch lists. These are:

People: Jeroen Verheyen

Jeroen Verheyen, co-founder and CEO at Semarion. Picture: Semarion
Jeroen Verheyen, co-founder and CEO at Semarion. Picture: Semarion

Jeroen is co-founder and CEO at Semarion, an interdisciplinary Cambridge spin-out which is solving key bottlenecks around cell assays in drug discovery through a revolutionary advanced material platform. Jeroen first appeared on the long list in 2021 and returns to the list this year after leading Semarion to start alpha trials of their first product on assay-ready cells with the Milner Therapeutics Institute.

Company: Porotech

Porotech CEO and co-founder Dr Tongtong Zhu. Picture: Keith Heppell
Porotech CEO and co-founder Dr Tongtong Zhu. Picture: Keith Heppell

Porotech is a spin-out from the Cambridge Centre for Gallium Nitride (GaN) in the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy at the University of Cambridge.

This summer, it announced a £3million investment to build on their unique production method of a new class of porous GaN semiconductor materials, from which a wide range of materials properties and functionalities can be engineered.

Porotech intends to commercialise this porous GaN material platform technology and device solutions in conjunction with its partner and foundry network.

It is offering an entirely new platform for semiconductor devices to be built upon, such as micro-LEDs displays, lasers, power and RF electronics, quantum computing and communication. The company has made significant technical and commercial progress, which has certainly made them a company to watch.

Things: Rnwl

Rnwl screnshot
Rnwl screnshot

The #21toWatch 2022 list also sees Rnwl, an insurtech start-up, making a return having previously been shortlisted in 2020. Led by serial entrepreneur Goncalo de Vasconcelos, Rnwl has been busy building its team, crowdfunding and earning recognition as an important fintech company.

Rnwl is focused on developing an App to help you achieve insurance peace of mind by automatically organising and managing policies and the things which keep them valid.

How to enter

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

The closing date for submissions is January 14, 2022, and the shortlist will be announced in February. A panel of independent judges will determine the Top21 who will be unveiled in a unique event on March 3, 2022.

The Top21.2021

A reminder of last year’s winners, which you can read more about here:

  • VividQ co-founder and COO Aleksandra Pedraszewska
  • Cambridge GaN Devices founder and CEO Dr Giorgia Longobardi
  • Qkine co-founder and CEO Dr Catherine Elton
  • GlycoVue founder Dr Gita Khalili Moghaddam
  • Blue Tap founder Francesca O’Hanlon
  • Group leader at The Quadram Institute Prof Justin O’Grady
  • Chronomics founder and CEO Dr Tom Stubbs
  • Cambridge Cancer Genomics
  • Echion Technologies
  • Flusso
  • Iceni Diagnostics
  • Kalium Health
  • Leaf Expression Systems
  • Better Origin
  • Developing Experts
  • Glyconics
  • Map of Ag
  • RoboK
  • Sook
  • Spotta Smart Pest Systems

Read more

Winners of cofinitive’s #21toWatch awards for 2021 revealed

Porotech plots improved displays for phones, watches and VR/AR headsets after £3m investment

Echion’s six-minute battery charge technology raises £10m in Series A funding

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