Sparkies16_cutout_bluelogo_notext_smallThe SPARKies tech awards, which was held last night in the Bristol Bierkeller, saw the final winners of 15 awards announced in front of an awesome audience of techies and creatives.

The evening, which was hosted by hilarious comedian John Robins, was made possible by our fabulous sponsors, attendees and those who took the time to nominate who they thought represented the best of tech in the West.

Hearty congratulations are in order for those were shortlisted and nominated for making our lovely judges job of deciding the winners tougher this year than ever before!

You can see the video of those nominated for a SPARKies award below:

But of course, saving the best until last – here are the SPARKies 2016 winners…

Best mobile app

This award celebrates the best mobile app made in the South West. It is judged on the way the app looks and operates; its stability, speed, content and its functionality.

Winner: DoodleMaths

doodlemaths_gravatar1The judges said: “We love this app because of its fun interface which is easy-to-use and intuitive for the target audience – a great concept!”

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Best innovation in digital entertainment

Celebrating digital innovation in the spheres of entertainment such as gaming, VR, 3D and novel film-making techniques.

Winner: Keymailer

keymailer-logoThe judges said: “The power and influence of the YouTube and Twitch platforms as a driver for thriving gaming communities should not be underestimated.”

“Keymailer has spotted a gap in the market about how fans discover new games. With discoverability one of the biggest issues games developers face, this is a great solution as an avenue to getting to new audiences.”

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Most innovative use of hardware

This award looks for a company, project, organisation or individual that has created a new device, project or service that uses hardware in an innovative way. This can be anything from robotics to the Internet of Things, including amazing product design.

Winner: Open Bionics

open-bionics-logoThe judges said: “Open Bionics has built life changing solutions around a nexus of new technologies. They’re attempting to challenge existing approaches, are immensely socially useful.”

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Best mentor/ advisor

This award recognises those who have gone out of their way, providing their own time or resources to advise and support a young company or individual to achieve success in the South West in the digital and tech sector.

Winner: Jill Burnett

jill-burnett-sparkies-best-mentorThe judges said: “Jill’s role helping to grow businesses at the Bristol Robotics Lab has seen it feature on major news and media platforms. Jill is renowned for her drive and helping local startups ‘think big'”

“Jill is a truly impressive lady working at the forefront of a world-class organisation and supporting a very broad range of initiatives and companies.”

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Best service provider

This award recognises an excellent service company that has provided a sustained level of support and made a clear difference to the region’s digital sector.

Winner: The Guild

the-guild-coworking-sparkies-best-service-providerThe judges said: “The Guild is great for community building and enabling collaborative partnerships in the tech industry. It’s a shining beacon in Bath for tech and creative companies.”

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Best digital agency

An award for the best digital agency serving the West of England.

Winner: Simpleweb

simplewebThe judges said: “Simpleweb is a small agency that punches above its weight, consistently going the extra mile for clients by recognising that ‘one solution does not fit all’.”

“It has fostered a number of startups in the region by offering an equity for development arrangement. The agency is highly supportive and ingrained in the regional tech cluster.”

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This category recognises a member of the digital community who is 21 or under and has gone above and beyond in the digital sector. They have the potential to become the ‘next big thing’.

Winner: Callum Short

callum-short-vegas-cutThe judges said: “Callum’s confidence, acumen and achievements already at just 18 years old is amazing. He has founded his own business, BeamBox, which is a novel idea in its own right, backed up by enthusiasm and energy.”

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Biggest success story

This award recognises the company, organisation, project or individual that really made the most of the last 12 months and saw a high level of success.

Winner: Prezola

prezola-biggest-success-story-sparkiesThe judges said: “Nominated for exponential growth and successfully disrupting a retail sector through online innovation.”

“Prezola have rocketed this year and established themselves as the leading e-commerce platform in the lucrative wedding market through valuable partnerships and a highly optimised online shopping experience.”

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Best use of UX design

An award to celebrate the best web and software designs and experiences created by individuals or companies in the South West.

Winner: Storm Consultancy

stormThe judges said: “They love Storm’s UX design due to its thorough design process resulting in a clear user experience which is both professional and friendly.”

They added that: “The high priority information is obvious, the design devices are familiar, and the platform does its job without drawing attention to itself. Super work!

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Founder/ entrepreneur of the year

This is an award for those in our community who have consistently demonstrated a significant entrepreneurial spirit and whose digital activity has shown commitment, enthusiasm, success and achievement.

Winner: Samantha Payne

samantha-payne-founder-of-the-year-sparkiesThe judges said: “Everyone loves someone who can give others a hand. In her first year of business, Samantha has taken such an innovative product to market with global recognition.”

“We love the prosthetic hand and, with Sam at the helm, these incredible aids will benefit so many people’s lives in the future. Excited to see what she does next!”

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The ‘good’ award

For the best use of technology for doing good – this covers green tech, sustainable tech and hardware for assisted living.

Winner: OLIO

OLIO-featured-image2The judges said: “Olio has come up with an idea that is the proper definition of good! We’re utterly fed up with the amount of waste and excited by the idea of this app tackling a major urban problem in a beautifully executed and innovative way.”

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Best startup

Starting a digital company is tough, and this award recognises a company that is doing it really well. The best startup will have achieved significantly in 2015, and will have the potential for future growth.

Winner: Open Bionics

open-bionics-logoThe judges said: “Open Bionics is a startup that has pushed the boundaries of innovation in robotics engineering and has had phenomenal success, gaining deserved international recognition for making bionic prosthetics more accessible and affordable.”

“A Bristol startup flying the flag for the UK in international robotics.”

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Long-term contribution to innovation in the South West

This is a company or individual that represents the ‘best tech ambassador for the west’.

Winner: Clare Reddington

Clare-Reddington-long-term-contribution-winner-sparkiesThe judges said: “Clare has worked tirelessly over the years to develop the creative technology strength of the region, and take it global.”

“Clare is a tenacious woman who does a great job of representing the region nationally and internationally.”

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The ‘totally killing it’ award

For competing globally from Bristol & Bath. The company having the biggest global impact, based in the South West.

Winner: Actual Experience

actual-experience-logoThe judges said: “Bath-based Actual Experience’s UK and international expansion has been a major success. This truly global and innovative company is listed on AIM, has seen exponential growth in the last couple of years and is leading the way in analytics.”

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The people’s choice

You told us who you think the best tech company in the South West is and the ultimate winner was chosen by the SPARKies audience last night!

Winner: OLIO


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Thanks again for all your awesome nominations. We’ll see you next year for more amazing people and innovations! In the meantime, you can relive the 2016 awards in the video below:

Stay up-to-date with the SPARKies by signing up to our newsletter or following us on Twitter: @TechSPARKuk.

Alice Whale