Sparkies16_cutout_bluelogo_notext_smallLast night the SPARKies awards brought together over 300 of the South West region’s tech and digital community to Komedia in Bath to celebrate the best startups, designs, hardware, people and more and to finally discover who had been crowned winner of the its 15 awards.

The evening, which was hosted by the wonderful comedian Laura Lexx, was made possible by our amazing sponsors – particularly our headline sponsor Gradwell Communications.

But, of course, the SPARKies is also made by its fabulous judges, attendees – and of course those who took the time to nominate who they thought represented the best of tech in the West.

This year’s awards saw a record number of nominations of the highest quality we’ve ever seen with our judges commenting on just how tough it was to decide on the final shortlist.

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 2017 winners…

Best app

This award is for the best web, wearable or mobile app made in the South West. It was judged on the way the app looks and operates, aspects of its functionality and its impact.

Winner: Wriggle

The judges described this app as: “Slick, and contextual” and commented that: “It does one very useful thing very well – everything you would want in the Best App of 2017.”

Also shortlisted:

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Best digital design

This award recognises the best web and software designs and experiences created by individuals or companies in the South West since January 2016. This could include anything from a brilliant e-commerce website, or a clever piece of software design.

Winner: Complete Control (Bits and Bricks)

The judges said: “Bits and Bricks is a wonderful design with fun characters and excellent animation. A fantastic method of teaching children to code through play.”

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Data Data Data 

An award for the projects that are pushing the limits of what we can do with data. This can include both commercial or public good projects.

Winner: Bath:Hacked


The judges described Bath:Hacked as: “A fantastic community-led open data project”” They added: “The group are clearly passionate about open data and through initiatives such as Accessible Bath they are trail-blazing ways of collating and publishing data to the public domain.”

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Best mentor/ advisor

This award recognises the individual or organisation, that has truly gone over and above to advise and support a tech company or individual to achieve success in the South West digital and tech sector.

Winner: Ash Phillips

The judges were impressed by: “Ash’s network of contacts and commitment to mentoring young people. They commented on the profound effect he’d had on those that nominated him, always being available to offer advice when needed.”

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Most Exemplary use of Virtual or Mixed Reality

This award recognises the best way virtual or augmented reality, 360 video or merged media has been utilised within a product or application. It could have the highest impact, or be the most spellbinding product.

Winner: Ultrahaptics

The judges said: “The technology developed by Ultrahaptics allows its users to touch virtual objects in mid air. It pushes boundaries, is hugely fun, immersive and has massive potential.”

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One for the under 25s. This award will go to the individual, whether an employee of a tech company, post grad or entrepreneur, that has already demonstrated true commitment and initiative within the tech and digital community and whom the judges believe will go far in this industry.

Winner: Neha Chaudhry

The judges said: “Neha is a young entrepreneur who’s identified a real-life problem and addressed it through technical innovation. She has shown commitment and initiative to design and deliver the product and clearly has ambitious plans for her company – the world needs more innovators like Neha.”

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The Hard Award

This award looks for a piece of new hardware or new application of existing hardware that solves problems in new ways. This can include standalone hardware, components or devices.

Winner: Motion Impossible

The judges said: “Motion Impossible is great example of continual innovation in a fast-paced market. They had the best application of them all!”

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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 has shown commitment, enthusiasm, success and achievement.

Winner: Diane Douglas

The judges said: “Starting and growing a business is challenging even in the most supportive conditions, and to do so while being treated for cancer demonstrates determination beyond belief. Coupled with knocking down public speaking fears and ultimately growing the business globally, this was a hard one to rival.”

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Best digital marketing campaign

This award is for digital marketing campaigns from the South West that have had the greatest success, through the best combination of design, engagement, reach, conversions and virality.

Winner: Wriggle (video and magazine content-marketing strategy)

The judges said: “Wriggle has achieved staggering results with an impressively small team and a tiny budget. Really considering consumer behaviour, they’ve capitalised on the loyalty of true brand ambassadors.” 

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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: Designability

The judges: “We chose Designability as the winner due to its highly innovative, inventive and bespoke use of hardware and software to improve quality of life and make a difference.” They added that: “The scale and potential for impact makes this an impressive application.”

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Lifetime Achievement

This award celebrates the person who has had a clear impact and demonstrable long-term contribution to strengthening the tech cluster in the South West.

Winner: Nick Sturge

The judges said: “Nick is a high profile and vocal promoter for tech in the South West. The transformation of SETsquared during his tenure has been phenomenal, rightly gaining national and international acclaim.”

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The ‘totally killing it’ award

This award recognises the company that the judges believe really made the most of the last 12 months, increasing turnover, expanding, making an impact and capitalising on their successes, both in the region and where relevant, further afield.

Winner: VR World Congress

The judges said: “The impact of VR World Congress is massive and goes beyond the event itself. It’s helped cement Bristol’s place on the regional, national and international map and reflects everything that we are proud of in the South West region.”

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Best startup

This award recognises the achievements of any tech or digital business started up within the last 3 years that has achieved significant success and that the judges believe will be ‘one to watch’ in the future.

Winner: Keymailer

The judges commented: “Keymailer has achieved staggering growth in the highly competitive ever-changing marketplace of gaming – reaching 20% of the market and attaining global reach.”

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Best place to work in tech

This award goes to the company that the judges believe has gone the extra mile, above and beyond, for someone who works for them, or for all those that work for them. This should be nominated by employees, ex-employees and non-share holders only.

Winner: Edo (formerly Sift Digital)

The judges said: “Edo has gone above and beyond to ensure their staff are made to feel valued both in the workplace and outside of it. From eating together on a day-to-day basis to foster community, to supporting their staff with mental health awareness, this is a shining example that many companies could take inspiration from.”

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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: Mayden

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Thanks again for all your awesome nominations. We’ll see you next year for more amazing people and innovations! 

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Alice Whale