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Regional businesses celebrated in the University of Hull’s Innovate North Awards

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Businesses from across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire were recognised at the University of Hull’s first ever Innovate North Awards last night, which was a celebration of innovation, growth, talent and progress towards reducing carbon emissions.

Among the winners was North Yorkshire-based Specialist Marine Consultants (SMC), which received the award for Growth. SMC, which has its headquarters at Humanby near Filey, was keen to grow its market share within the booming global offshore wind sector. The business was supported by the University of Hull to develop an industry-leading software solution that allows offshore wind farms to plan and track the real time movements of vessels and personnel, enabling them to calculate their carbon footprint, operate more safely and improve project efficiency. This has enhanced SMC’s ability to win business from some of the largest offshore wind producers in the world, fuelling its rapid growth.

Paula Gouldthorpe, Development Manager for the Hull and Humber region for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), who was part of the judging panel that had the difficult task of choosing a winner from the impressive shortlist, said:

“Specialist Marine Consultants (SMC) demonstrated all-round success in demonstrating growth, not just in turnover and profit but also in their reduction in costs; a well-deserved win.” 

Meanwhile, the Innovation award went to Beverley-based Pulse EV,  which has filled a gap in the market for UK-produced, electric all-terrain vehicles. The business was supported by the University of Hull, receiving access to space, facilities, funding and expertise so it could build, test and refine its environmentally friendly vehicle prototypes. There’s growing demand for everyday, all-terrain vehicles that can be used on farms, and in fields, forests and open spaces, but the vast majority of quad and all-terrain vehicles are imported, and powered by petrol or diesel engines. Pulse EV plans to formally launched its range of all electric off-road vehicles later this year.

Maggie McGowan, Deputy Director in the Government Office for Technology Transfer, who was also on the judging panel, commented: 

“Pulse EV is delivering a very tangible innovation with huge potential. I could see there being a huge market for their highly innovative EVs, not just in the UK and EU but also further afield.”

Lincolnshire-based Lindum Packaging emerged victorious in the Net Zero category, having drastically reduced the amount of plastic wrapping and Carbon Dioxide emissions involved in transporting goods. The business, which has its headquarters at Stallingborough near Grimsby, received a £50,000 grant from the University of Hull to help develop its Mobile Pallet Test Lab. The first of its kind in the UK, the Lab allows customers to test pallet stability and learn how they can improve it for more effective, cost-saving and sustainable logistics. Within six months, the business helped its customers save just under 320 tonnes in Carbon Dioxide emissions, the equivalent of taking 65 petrol cars off the road for a year.

Alan Raw, Judge and BBC Eco Time presenter on BBC Radio Humberside, said:

“Lindum Packaging’s Mobile Test Lab, and their ability to collate rich data, has created an incredible solution, allowing brands to very quickly reduce their use of plastics and CO2 emissions.” 

East Yorkshire’s M.B. Roche & Sons received the Talent award in recognition of its forward-thinking approach to sourcing skilled talent, and supporting diversity and inclusion. The Hessle-based civil engineering, infrastructure and construction contractor demonstrated its commitment to diversity and inclusion by doing everything from hiring apprentices to encouraging people from disadvantaged backgrounds to consider a career in construction.

Judge Paula Gouldthorpe said:

“M.B Roche & Sons has been really forward thinking by using alternative solutions to traditional employment methods to bring skills into the business, which is really important when looking to beat the skills gap.”

The winner of the hotly contested People’s Choice category, which was chosen in a nail-biting live vote on the night, was Fitmums & Friends, a charity affiliated to England Athletics that started life in East Yorkshire and now runs a series of volunteer-led, community fitness groups for people across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

Fitmums & Friends successfully secured funding from the University of Hull, which allowed it to develop an innovative information management system and accompanying app for both members and volunteers to use.

The University of Hull’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dave Petley, said: “Our first ever Innovate North Awards celebrated excellence across our local business community and our ambition to partner with companies from across the Humber region and beyond. Congratulations to all the winners and to all the nominees, who have done so much to make these awards so special.

“One thing that stands-out about all the winners – on top of their remarkable achievements – is their wide diversity. From charities, engineers and manufacturers to Information Technology and packaging specialists, they sum up the entrepreneurship, and creative and innovative thinking that’s the bedrock of the region in which we live. I look forward to seeing each and every one of them achieve even greater things.”

He added: “The University of Hull is committed to developing and strengthening its relationships with businesses and industry stakeholders to unlock economic growth and tackle social challenges. The Innovate North Awards are part of our work to bring this strategy to life, giving us the opportunity to raise awareness of the many ways in which we can support and champion local businesses.”

All of the Innovate North Award nominees were among the 675 businesses that have received European Union-funded innovation support through University of Hull programmes such as the Aura Innovation Centre, SparkFund, the Flood Innovation Centre and the Humber Internships Programme in recent years. Overall, this support has resulted in 170 new products being launched, a 400-tonne reduction in carbon emissions, the creation of 195 jobs and increased sales of around £85 million for the small to medium enterprises involved.

Businesses can find out more about wide range of support available from The University Hull at free Business Speed Support Sessions taking place on 16 May. For details and to book a place, visit the University of Hull’s eventbrite page

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