Business Boost | 24 September 2018 - by Ian Midgley

Hull tech sector shines at Digital Awards

The best in digital innovation took its turn in the spotlight on Thursday 20 September when the Digital Awards 2018 celebrated the region’s tech talent.

Hull tech sector shines at Digital Awards

The fourth annual awards were held in the spectacular surroundings of the new Bonus Arena, showcasing the strength and depth of the digital sector in the region.

The 11 categories on offer included best app, best digital marketing campaign, best digital start-up, best use of digital in education, best digital innovation and best e-commerce.

Each category was fiercely contested with eventual winners including APD Communications, Matakki Scissors, Global View Systems and Hayden Barton as young digital person of the year.

Accepting the Lifetime Contribution Award was Jonathan Elvidge, the founder of The Gadget Shop, Red 5 and now director of Moodbeam, for decades of innovation in the retail sector.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, KCOM Managing Director Sean Royce, said he was delighted to see such a wealth of talent on show.

He said: “We’ve had a record number of entries for this - our fourth annual Digital Awards - demonstrating what an amazing wealth of talent we have in this region when it comes to the digital and tech industries. I’d like to thank the Hull Daily Mail and Mike Pennington for pulling together what has been another great event.

“These are truly exciting times for Hull. You can see by the sheer range of innovative and ground-breaking finalists here tonight – from thrusting young start-ups making a name for themselves for the first time to established firms already leading the way on the world stage – that Hull is once again a pioneering city.”

Mr Royce added that there is a renewed sense of optimism in Hull as the burgeoning digital sector creates new opportunities in the city. Last year the digital sector added £402m worth of value to the local economy.

He said: “KCOM will continue to be a part of this renewed optimism – of this city’s renaissance – as we have been since 1904.

“I’m delighted to report that we’re bang on target to complete the roll out of Lightstream full fibre broadband across 100 per cent of our network by March.

“This £85m investment in our broadband infrastructure underpins the connectivity that allows the region’s digital businesses to thrive and compete on a global playing field while also putting us decades ahead of the rest of the UK for connectivity and speed.”

The winners at this year’s awards were:

Outstanding contribution

Winner: Jonathan Elvidge

Taking home the award for Outstanding Contribution was Jonathan Elvidge, who has been a major figure on Hull’s tech and retail scene for decades. As the founder of cool and quirky gift shop chains The Gadget Shop and Red 5 – and now the man behind the Moodbeam gadget that helps monitor mental health – Jonathan has been an inspirational figure to many, offering help and advice to aspiring entrepreneurs down the years. Never one to rest on his laurels, this former KCOM telephone engineer, is still an active figure in the region’s tech sector and a familiar face at the C4DI.

Good2Learn

Good2Learn

Best Digital Start Up sponsored by Ron Dearing UTC

Winner: Good2Learn

Good2Learn is an Ed-Tech start-up based at Hull’s C4DI. Collaborating with members of C4DI’s digital community and teams from Grimsby Institute, it developed an innovative cloud-based platform that supports Key Stage 2 learning, helping children consolidate their maths and English schoolwork at home.  Even better for parents bamboozled by their children’s homework, it also takes all the stress away from parents who don’t understand today’s curriculum and does all the hard work for them.

Best Mobile App sponsored by Spencer Group

Winner: Retain by Global View Systems

This app can literally save lives. Global View Systems’ ingenious app manages retained firefighters to make sure they can respond to a “shout” quickly and effectively. It runs on standard Android or Apple smart devices and can issue optimised call-ups to retained firefighters depending on their availability, location and skills. It also manages other aspects of firefighters’ readiness and wellbeing including ongoing training and occupational health and safety.

Ron Dearing UTC

Ron Dearing UTC

Best Use of Technology within Education sponsored by PureBroadband

Winner: Ron Dearing UTC

The judges agreed that RDUTC’s innovative approach to teaching embraces the many possibilities for digital to transform the learning experience. Working with state-of-the-art tech, its students study a broad range of digital qualifications and become familiar with coding languages such as Python, C#, Lua, Java, JavaScript and HTML.  Through the college’s methods its students employ digital technologies to enhance their learning in all subjects. Successes highlighted at RDUTC included the use of virtual reality to teach students scientific concepts, producing 3D geometric puzzles in 3D CAD software, building programmable drones, entering competitions such as Tim Peake’s ESA Space Tech Challenge where the college reached the national final and hosting networking events for up to 300 delegates from local SMEs to demonstrate potential use of VR. A well-deserved winner creating bright futures for the next generation of tech and digital workers.

Young Digital Person of the Year sponsored by Wykeland

Winner: Hayden Barton

Hayden Barton is a young entrepreneur who started off taking things apart when he was little such as video recorders, DVD players, computers and anything else he could get his hands on - his parents happily admit they didn't enjoy this at the time. When he was seven years old, Hayden started fixing phones and computers for family and friends and teaching himself programming. He then developed his first website called TechBite Reviews where he tested products and wrote reviews for product manufacturers which also brought him into the world of photography. During the next few years Hayden worked on various websites and taught himself electronics. In early 2017 he released his first public product, the Exen Mini - the world’s smallest 32-bit microcontroller. He started a crowdfunding campaign to help pay to get the product manufactured and exceeded his £1,000 goal within the first 24 hours ending the campaign 1,369 per cent over funded. He then took a risk and decided that instead of manufacturing in China and not having control, he should invest most of the profits into electronics manufacturing machinery. Hayden is now producing more products, offering electrical engineering, product development and electronic manufacturing services. A true digital talent and one to keep an eye on in the years ahead.

APD Communications

APD Communications

Best Digital Innovation sponsored by Hull College

Winner: APD Communications

Technology leader APD Communications has claimed a prestigious prize for a world-first digital solution that is pioneering the way forward for emergency services organisations. APD’s Cloud Control Room technology took the Best Digital Innovation award at the 2018 Digital Awards, Hull and East Yorkshire’s celebration of tech excellence and innovation. APD’s Cloud Control Room is future-proofing blue light organisations by creating the control room of tomorrow. The technology harnesses the power of the cloud to give emergency services a resilient communications platform which is cutting edge, flexible, affordable and meets their needs exactly. The Cloud Control Room is the world’s first hosted critical communications software for managing public contact. An app-based solution, it manages incoming calls and messages; social media feeds; resource and people location; voice recording; incident management and more in one package. The Digital Awards judges were impressed with how the Cloud Control Room brings together vital incoming information and incident management functions. Specifically, they recognised the advantages it presents to deal effectively with significant public safety issues such as knife crime. Using APD’s technology, when an alarmed member of the public calls to report someone with a knife, a message flashes up on the control room operator’s screen, giving step-by-step instructions on how to respond. The software can also highlight available officers equipped with stab vests.

Best e Commerce sponsored by Arco

Winner: Matakki Scissors

Hull-based scissor manufacturers and wholesalers Matakki export their products across Europe. Founded in 2003 by director James Curd, the company currently has a worldwide following of over 50,000 across all social media platforms which it has converted to sales and brand growth. 

Octovision

Octovision Media

Best Emerging Technology sponsored by Arc Studios

Winner: Octovision Media

Octovision Media has worked incredibly hard to show Hull from a new angle. Octovision’s aerial drone images and videos are sure fire hits on social media – it’s Hull Fair video has been viewed   more than 377,000 times with thousands of likes and comments from all over the world. Its stunning imagery is helping to present Hull in an entirely new light and reimaging the city for the 21st century.

Best Digital Marketing Communication sponsored by Ideal Boilers

Winner: Bonus Arena

The opening of the Bonus Arena was a major event for Hull in 2018. The arena’s imaginative digital marketing campaign led up to its launch event in August and knitted together the themes of telling the venue’s story, covering its building, announcing events, testing and launching. The digital #opentoall campaign helped the arena team to maximise its reach, grow data, increase traffic to its website and increase brand awareness.

Javid Mann

Javid Mann

Junior Digital Champion

Winner: Javid Mann

Judges agreed Javid is an excellent computational thinker who excels at applying logic to a range of different programming languages.  He is also a ‘creative’, employing his considerable digital talents to produce entertaining memes, graphics and YouTube clips.  He is currently studying for three digital qualifications at Ron Dearing UTC; GCSE Computer Science, OCR Cambridge Technical Award in Digital Technologies and OCR Cambridge National in Engineering Design, including CAD and 3D Design Realisation. He was awarded the 2018 school prize for achievement in Computer Science.  Outside school, Javid practices programming techniques using a mix of modern and retro technology, builds his own computers using old and new components and runs a retro Nintendo games club.

Best Global Reach sponsored by Trident

Winner: EFI Escada

With customers in 31 countries and dealing with a client base speaking 25 different languages, EFI Escada has used its state-of-the-art products in the corrugated industry to secure commercial opportunities across the world. The company is now expanding its operations in the UK employing talent across every area of its business to help to innovate and support customers globally.

Best Hardware sponsored by KCOM and HullLive

Winner: Nerdonic

Nerdonic designed, developed and manufactured the world’s smallest 32-bit micro-controller/development board that is fully Arduino compatible - the Exen Mini. Measuring less than 15mm square (around the size of a 5p coin) and weighing less than a single gram, the Exen Mini is much more powerful than traditional larger Ardunios (the Exam Mini has a 48MHz Clock/256KB ROM/32KB RAM compared to the usual Arduinos with 16MHz Clock/32KB ROM/2KB RAM) - this allows users around the world to rapidly create smaller, more powerful projects and prototypes for an amazingly wide range of tech and IT markets. Originally designed and manufactured in Hayden Barton's parents East Hull home, Nerdonic has now relocated to C4DI and is currently developing and manufacturing a range of upcoming electronic products.

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