In the midst of the most important part of the SPARKies tech awards – the nomination period – the judges who’ll be deciding who the best South West people and companies in tech and digital have been announced.

The 20 judges are experts in their fields, innovative investors, serial entrepreneurs and creative geniuses – many with a series of serial startup successes between them – these are digital bods that truly know their stuff.

“I am looking to back engineers with ambition to build big global businesses”


Amongst them is Julien St.John-Dennis Chief Marketing Officer at Gradwell Communications – our headline sponsor – who has been at the forefront of innovation since the first cable modem trials and Emma Jones (pictured right) who founded Enterprise Nation, a small business community of over 75,000 people.

Plus, Mark Turpin (pictured left), CEO of gold SPARKies sponsor the Yogscast – a Bristol-based media production company with over 20 YouTube channels and 25 million viewers per month and co-founder of Keymailer – which won the SPARKies Best Innovation in Digital Media award in 2015.

And that’s only 3 of our 20 fantastic judges. So, as well as telling you about them, we thought we’d catch up with a few directly to get some exclusive insight into what they’re looking for in award nominations to give you all the best chance to make a stand-out impression.

How to impress the judges

Constance Fleuriot (pictured right), co-founder of the Women’s Tech Hub Bristol, tells us: “I am excited by the possibility of a more inclusive future, working with local companies to develop local talent from all sorts of backgrounds to solve current tech skills shortages.

“I’m hoping to see something new and interesting, or well tried, tested and useful. I am quite open to being impressed by all sorts of tech activities.”

“[I’m hoping to see] thought-provoking ideas and talent, with a generous glug of passion and enthusiasm”


Andrew Mulvenna (pictured left), who Co-founded award-winning business management tool Brightpearl, adds: “I am looking to back engineers with ambition to build big global businesses. The entrepreneurs who can solve the hardest problems, and serve fundamental human needs, by harnessing the South West’s deep engineering heritage.”

Fellow judge Elaine McKechnie (pictured right), who runs Bristol-based tech hub FutureSpace, gives us her take on the Bristol and Bath tech scene: “It’s lively, creative, ambitious, well-connected and collaborative. The mix makes it refreshingly different to other regions in the UK.

With this in mind, she explains she’s looking for: “Thought-provoking ideas and talent, with a generous glug of passion and enthusiasm.”

“The hardware and software innovation game is strong in these parts”


Dominic Mills, CTO at Bristol-based digital agency Zone agrees: “I’m looking forward to seeing evidence of the flair and the entrepreneurial spirit which is helping cement Bristol’s position as a leading UK tech hub.”

Dan Page (pictured left), our resident VR expert and Creative Director at VR World Congress – Europe’s largest virtual reality conference – adds: “I’m personally excited by the coming together of the region’s many different disciplines – the hardware and software innovation game is strong in these parts.

“With VR, AR, engineering, animation, robotics, games, natural history, mobile and aerospace all represented so strongly in the region, to name but a few industries, the possibilities for cross-discipline collaborations are endless and already unfolding around us.”

And that’s just the start of it. You can see the full list of judges, their biographies, the categories they’re judging and maybe a few helpful hints on the SPARKies Judges 2017 page – just click on their names for a full profile.

The SPARKies Tech Awards 2017 will be held on the 29 June at Komedia Bath. Stay tuned for all things SPARKies, including when tickets are released, by signing up to the TechSPARK newsletter, following us on Twitter here: @TechSPARKuk and using the hashtag #theSPARKies.


Alice Whale