Meet the SPARKies Awards 2019 Judges

30th April 2019

You’ve still got until 10 May to get your SPARKies nominations in, while you’re putting together the perfect application to highlight your strengths, we thought we’d let you know about a few of the wonderful people who’ll be casting their eyes over the shortlists – The SPARKies judges. They’ll be deciding who the best South West people and companies in tech and digital are this year.

The 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 hoping to see diversity, some female talent and great collaboration from the nominees!”

Amongst them is Charly Patrick, Entrepreneur Development Manager at Natwest who uses her knowledge and experience to help founders and startups properly prepare to run successful businesses and Helen Bassett, Associate Director at Smith & Williamson who’s looking to see “Inspirational examples of innovative tech mixed with professional business acumen – key ingredients for success.”

Plus, Tatjana Humphries (pictured left), Senior Inward Investment Executive of Invest Bristol & Bath – who’s job it is to promote the region and the cluster as a top place for business to move to.

And that’s only 3 of our 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.

What are the judges looking for? 

Mike Oram, Academy Lead at Mayden Academy tells us: “I’m really excited about the collaborative innovation start-up culture. Everyone in the south-west works so well together and has such fantastic new ideas across a wide range of technology, there is a really supportive culture for companies of all sizes and all industries.”

“I want to see something different and inspiring, in an area of so much innovation, I want to see people/companies who are inspiring or have inspiring ideas that are really different from anything we have seen before.”

Joyann Boyce, Founder at The Social Detail said “The innovative and creative ideas being developed within the SW excite me most, as well as the ever-grouping communities. No matter the topic you can find a group or community to talk, share and learn from. 

In my world its all about being able to adapt quickly, but still being able to engage with the audience. I am hoping to see unique and thought-provoking ideas with a satiable business model. SPARKies nominees that are pushing for change to make the world a better place will really catch my eye. 

Fellow judge Elaine McKechnie (pictured right), who’s the Business Development Director at Oxford Innovation, 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 from 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”

Zara Nanu, CEO at Bristol-based Gapsquare adds her thoughts on the collaborative nature of the cluster: “Never underestimate the power of collaborative tech cluster in Bristol – one that is not afraid to put its head above the parapet. It’s the only kind that leads to innovation.”

Dan Page (pictured left), our resident VR Impresario and VR Lad at Bristol VR Lab agrees: “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.”

Briony Phillips, Scale-up Enabler and Associate Director at Engine Shed said “The West of England is a national leader and innovator. I’m looking forward to seeing some nominations from the wealth of exciting scale-up and start-up companies and their supportive communities here in Bristol and Bath and the wider region”

The SPARKies Tech Awards 2019 will be held on the 27 June in Bath. Stay tuned for all things SPARKies by signing up to the TechSPARK newsletter, following us on Twitter here: @TechSPARKuk and using the hashtag #theSPARKies.