Meet the SPARKies Awards 2018 Judges

25th May 2018

Nominations for the SPARKies are closed, while we’re sorting out the incredible number of submissions 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 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 hoping to see diversity, some female talent and great collaboration from the nominees!”


Amongst them is Mike Jackson Director of Scaleups at Shaw & Co who uses his knowledge and experience to help tech scaleups properly prepare to raise funds and Emma Jones (pictured right) who founded Enterprise Nation, a small business community of over 75,000 people.



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 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.

What are the judged looking for 

Sibusio Tshabalala (pictured right), Managing Director of Cognitive paths tells us: “I’m looking to see the potential social and economic impact to small and medium-sized business.”

“I want a real comment to being inclusive and supportive to young people, who may not have high aspirations to enter the sector.”

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


Rachel Baker (pictured left), the Business Development Manager at Rocketmakers, adds: “I want to see something thought-provoking and engaging, with lots of additional validation.”

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 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.”


Ingrid Anusic (pictured right), the Head of Marketing at Creditcall told us why she thinks the tech cluster in the West of England is flourishing “Our flabbergasting, often home-grown talent is churning out an incredible level of groundbreaking and life-changing technology which competes with ease on a global scale. With UWE and Bristol University providing top talent, having a closely-knit and approachable tech scene, and living in a region of natural beauty, with an abundance of outdoors activity; diverse music, arts, and food scene; offering an extremely high level of life quality, it’s no surprise our region is moving into the limelight of the international tech scene.”

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 2018 page – just click on their names for a full profile.

The SPARKies Tech Awards 2018 will be held on the 21 June at Marble Factory, Motion – Bristol. Stay tuned for all things SPARKies by signing up to the TechSPARK newsletter, following us on Twitter here: @TechSPARKuk and using the hashtag #theSPARKies.