Celebrating the best in business15 Nov 2013
The 2013 National Business Awards ceremony presented a vision of the future of British business and its positive impact on society, writes NBA Programme Director Alex Evans
In his keynote speech to an audience of 1,200 entrepreneurs, leaders and executives at the National Business Awards Gala Dinner, Sir Bob Geldof called on business to provide the “philosophical and economic leadership” needed to turn Britain’s enterprise energy into social capital. Adding that business and society are not separate entities, he urged all those who have been recognised for awards to consider how they play their part as corporate citizens – as a new model of business was needed.
Two new awards for 2013 recognised this emerging model, with the new Social Enterprise of the Year award won by Provide – which provides over 50 services to 1.9 million patients across Essex, Waltham Forest, Redbridge and Cambridgeshire. Judges recognised Provide for its impact in the care and health sector, and scope for further impact, but also for how it is engaging staff and customers, constantly innovating and achieving consistently strong financial performance. An inspiration to the private, public and third sector.
Also proving that responsible business makes commercial sense, Wates Group won the inaugural Corporate Citizenship Award - which recognises the role of the private sector in addressing social challenges and improving the communities in which it operates. While it was up against major organisations including Barclays, KPMG, Marks & Spencer, and Virgin Media, an SME from North Wales called Comtek Network Systems came closest to taking its crown and was identified as a Future Champion – demonstrating the role of small firms in changing the culture of business.
Echoing many of Sir Bob’s points in a no less powerful speech was ‘mumpreneur’ of three Claire Bradwell, a Young Ambassador from The Prince’s Trust, who designed a special chair for children with hip dysplasia when her daughter Daisy was diagnosed with the condition. Claire developed a prototype and used a business loan from the Prince’s Trust to launch her company Hip Rocker. Overcoming her own horrifying series of health scares and treatments, Claire channelled her enterprise energy into a solution that is now helping children like Daisy all over the world.
Fellow inventor Sir David McMurtry, honoured by the Daily telegraph for four decades of excellence in business, said that he wanted his award “to put high tech manufacturing in England in focus as a wealth creating economic activity which we need more of”. Michael Oliver, chairman and founder of Oliver Valves, enlarged the spotlight on British engineering when he accepted the award for International Growth Business of the Year, triumphing over successful exporters including MPM Products, Sun Mark, and Vi-Spring.
Representing the full spectrum of UK plc, other winners on the night ranged from small to medium sized firms such as wnDirect (New Business of the Year), The Beans Group (Digital Business of the Year), Newton Europe (Santander SME of the Year), London Bio Packaging (ICAEW Sustainable Business Award) and Hermes UK (Inflexion Growth Business of the Year) to FTSE 250 MITIE (Leadership Diversity Award) and QBE FTSE 100 Business of the Year Sainsbury’s – honoured for achieving 34 consecutive quarters of growth while embedding sustainability and social impact in every business decision.
The final message of the evening came from HRH The Duke of York outlining his support for the New Entrepreneur of the Year award, which seeks to recognise all those embracing entrepreneurship – from school leavers to those embarking on new ventures after long careers. “In the 12 years that I’ve been following these Awards it’s become clear to me and the National Business Awards that there is a small but important gap to recognise the excellent work of those entrepreneurs new to business and those new to the concept of entrepreneurship,” he said. “I hope that many new entrepreneurs will compete for it next year.”
New firms have proliferated as those struggling to find jobs – from school leavers and graduates to those made redundant - have created their own job. The best of these are creating employment and generating wealth while helping the UK to compete in the global economy.
Full details of the 2014 award programme for the National Business Awards can be found at www.nationalbusinessawards.co.uk.