Merseyside Innovation Awards 2013 - Winner Announced

Merseyside Innovation Awards 2013

NanoFlex has won the top prize at this year's Merseyside Innovation Awards. The Daresbury-based electrochemical engineering firm fought off competition from fellow finalists CNC Robotics and Big Heritage to secure a £10,000 cash prize and £4,000 worth of legal, business, PR, accounting or design consultancy, as well as virtual office space at Liverpool Science Park.

Yesterday's event marked the 18th anniversary of the Merseyside Innovation Awards, which were established to recognise and reward companies with fewer than 50 employees who use innovation to boost growth and profitability.

MC Vanguard are proud to have sponsored the awards since their inception. Brian McCann, MC Vanguard partner, said: "This year we had a large and very diverse range of entries, including innovations in the digital, biotechnology, engineering and the not-for-profit sectors.

"It was not easy to select the finalists out of more than 30 innovations but the sponsor group believes that we had a very strong and varied group of finalists this year. The judging panel were set a real challenge when picking our winner for 2013."

The Winner:

NanoFlex is headquartered on Sci-Tech Daresbury and manufactures high performance electrodes for electrochemical research.

Electrochemistry is the ability to convert chemical energy in electrical energy or the other way around. In one form it is a sensor, and in the other a battery. It affects all aspects of life and NanoFlex is the first company to introduce a commercial nanoelectrode through the CAVIty ARray Electrode (CAVIARE) system with all CAVIARE products designed to be used with standard electrochemical equipment.

The company recently launched an electrochemical sensors product and jointly owns patents with the University of Edinburgh.

Speaking at yesterday's ceremony at Crowne Plaza, Liverpool, NanoFlex Chief Executive Neville Freeman has called on others to be "persistent and dogged" in their pursuit of taking new products to market and emphasised that it was important for pioneers to take a long-term view. "NanoFlex has been going for ten years and we have been in the wilderness for eight of those," he told Awards media sponsor Insider.

"So don't give up, be brave and you'll come through."

He said: "I am delighted and surprised. There are some fantastic companies here today and I'm pleased we were able to win it.

"We believe we have produced the first commercial nanoelectrode, which offers performance benefits over the traditional technology available.

"I think our focus on manufacturing to scale is the crucial issue. We are making high performance devices that are only available in research environments and pushing them out into the wider community."

The use of electrochemical sensors has empowered biomedical diagnostics, such as the measuring of blood for diabetics, for example.

Freeman said he would use the prize money to develop production techniques further which would take the company closer to using the technology in medical diagnostic applications.

The other finalists, who each received £1000 runner-up prize were:

CNC Robotics was founded in Liverpool in 2011 by Jason Barker who had previously worked as a set designer for globally famous artists such as Kylie Minogue and Beyoncé Knowles.

CNC takes traditional industrial robots and puts them to use in new and innovative ways by programming them with different software applications.

The company was commissioned last year by Cadbury to create 18-inch chocolate replicas of iconic London landmarks such as The Shard and Big Ben as part of its kiosk in Hyde Park during the Olympics.

Big Heritage is based in Bromborough, the Wirral, and strives to use the rich history and heritage of the Merseyside area to teach businesses modern day lessons but through historical contexts.

It works with private sectors companies and local authorities to highlight how modern day problems and issues have been solved in the past and what lessons can be learned now.

The 21-month-old company is currently focused on the Merseyside and Chester area but founder Dean Paton has ambitions to launch its first franchise by the end of 2013.

This year's Merseyside Innovation Awards were judged by a three-strong panel including David Furlong, from last year's winner Mole Group, BBC presenter Roger Johnson and Paul Jenkins, research and development director at Unilever.

They were hosted by Linda McDermott from BBC Radio Merseyside and Insider was media partner.

Other sponsors of this year's awards were: Plus8, Brabners, C-Tech Innovation, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, MC Vanguard, NatWest, the North West Fund, Kenyon Fraser, University of Liverpool and WP Thompson.

This story first appeared in Insider North West and can be found here and here.

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