The winners of the BristolLive Business Awards – in association with BusinessLive – have been announced.
It’s been a challenging year for business, with the pandemic providing a bevy of obstacles and interruptions to work. Nonetheless, companies across Bristol showed real determination and an ability to innovate – overcoming the challenges in front of them to produce some really incredible work in 2021.
It was a difficult task for our judges to pick through this year’s worthy nominees and the shortlist of finalists represents the best of Bristol.
Due to the rise in Covid infection rates and recent government announcements, sadly the decision was made not to go ahead with our live awards ceremony, which was meant to be taking place at Ashton Gate Stadium in December.
However, all the winners will be featured in our special BusinessLive South West newsletter, which goes out to thousands of people around the region. We will also be sending out certificates and trophies in the post.
“These awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of businesses, drawing from across Bristol’s different industries and recognising the positive impact that our finalists and winners have had on the business community,” said Reach Plc’s regional editor Emma Slee.
“Well done to all of the businesses shortlisted – and huge congratulations to the winners.”
Thank you to our event partner Hunter Selection and our programme sponsor GA Energy . Thanks also to the category sponsors for this year. We are delighted to announce the winners of the BristolLive Business Awards 2021.
Business In The Face Of Adversity Special Award, sponsored by Bristol City Centre BID
We the Curious
Despite being hit hard by the pandemic, educational charity We The Curious worked to achieve amazing things. The charity continued work on its Project What If despite being reduced to a small core team – reimagining some exhibits so they could be distanced and safe. We the Curious also ran 32 different community projects supporting disadvantaged communities, distributed hundreds of creative packs to support and engage young people during the pandemic, and provided free visits and lunch to 500 struggling families.
Discover Your Bounce
As a company dedicated to wellbeing, Discover Your Bounce knew that its services would be required during the pandemic. Despite the obstacles the pandemic presented, Discover Your Bounce began working with businesses and individuals who needed help with wellbeing and self-care. Providing virtual sessions, resources, and group activities, the Discover Your Bounce team helped more than 2,000 individuals during a difficult year.
Like many other businesses, NOCO Hair had to close its doors for a time during the pandemic. However, the team took this as a chance to improve and come back stronger than ever. Working with leading hairdressers and colourists, weekly team events were set up in which employees could learn more about the craft – and undertake training to polish their skills. As such, when lockdown ended the team at NOCO Hair came back with even greater passion and skill.
Environmental Contribution Award, sponsored by The Bristol Hotel
Future Leap works to help businesses become more sustainable. Holding events like workshops and discussion panels, Future Leap educates businesses – and also collaborates on innovative solutions to bring them closer to carbon neutrality. In September, Future Leap held the Festival of Sustainable Business Conference, which was attended by over 400 delegates and provides a platform for organisations to collaborate on solutions to combat the climate crisis.
Bristol Waste Company
Set up to collect Bristol’s waste and help promote recycling, Bristol Waste Company opened a reuse shop in March 2020 – taking in items that would otherwise have been thrown away and giving them a new lease of life. Lockdown meant that the shop could not open physically for months, so Bristol Waste Company quickly set up an online shop, selling more than 130 items in the first quarter of 2021 alone. The shop has since opened physically, and continues to help people make better use of what would otherwise become waste.
As a national courier service with road and air networks, environmentally-friendly practice is extremely important to FirstPoint Logistics. Firstpoint aims to become entirely carbon neutral – and to this end the business has partnered with Ecologi on an initiative to offset carbon emissions, and become a carbon positive company. In January alone, 450 trees were planted through this project, offsetting 24 tonnes of CO2.
Best Tech Company, sponsored by Amazon
Working to improve the quality and efficiency of training, Virti provides a variety of virtual training options for the medical industry. Using software available on desktops and tablets as well as VR headsets, Virti gives medics the chance to engage in lifelike interactive scenarios. This technology was of particular use to the NHS during the pandemic – allowing for vital hands-on training that was safe and efficient.
Anaphite was founded with the goal of adding graphene to lithium-ion batteries – in an effort to improve charge time and longevity. Anaphite provides a way to achieve what was previously a prohibitively expensive process – with a flexible and scalable method that allows for the incorporation of graphene into batteries. One key benefit of this work is that it may speed up the adoption of electric vehicles, providing significant help in the fight against climate crisis.
FluoretiQ is dedicated to helping identify bacterial infection as fast as possible, allowing for effective treatment much sooner. Using a library of bacterial probes, FluoretiQ can accurately identify a bacteria in 15 minutes, where a usual diagnosis takes two days. The company says the speed and accuracy of identification helps avoid the unnecessary complication and cost of the current process – saving an estimated £1.1bn in direct and indirect costs, and helping patients receive better treatment.
Gapsquare works to help other businesses ensure that they comply with gender pay gap regulations, and have a truly equal workplace. Gapsquare uses statistical analysis to form a detailed picture of where pay gaps appear, and the variables that can influence them. This makes it possible for companies to properly focus their efforts, and achieve a meaningful pay equity.
Moneyhub is a company that provides users with the ability to control their finances. The platform allows individuals and businesses to view all their finances in one place – and provides personalised advice based on AI analysis, to help clients make decisions. Moneyhub also provides open banking payment technology and in 2020, in a collaboration with Gift Aid aimed at helping charities, it created the world’s first open banking QR code payments.
Innovation Award, sponsored by Renishaw
Founded by Amber Probyn and Hazel McShane, Peequal is the UK’s first women’s urinal – designed to provide efficiency and equality in access. Trialled by 5,000 women, Peequal urinals are said to be six times faster than conventional portable toilets, without sacrificing privacy. In festival environments, this time-saving could generate an extra £1.5m in sales, according to the firm. The Peequal is also touch-free, and its flat pack design saves space during transport, reducing the carbon output of this process by 98%.
One Big Circle
One Big Circle is a business that stands at the forefront of AI, intelligent video, and machine learning, and over the last year those skills have been put to good use. Working with Network Rail, One Big Circle delivered an Automated Intelligent Video Review system – that collects high quality video data from onboard trains and automatically transmits them via 4g, making it possible to monitor and collect data on the environment remotely. The system is predicted to reduce site visits by 40% – improving safety and efficiency.
Huboo provides SMEs with a multi-channel fulfilment service, led by its software that helps businesses with everything from billing information, to transaction management, to order tracking and more. The agile, software-based onboarding process that Huboo uses made it possible for the business to take on more than 50 new clients a month, even during the height of the pandemic. Huboo also used 3D models of its warehouses to carry out instant, detailed health checks on its hubs, without the hassle of the physical process.
Best place to Work, sponsored by Huboo Technologies
Xledger aims to foster a work culture in which employee achievements are celebrated, and motivation is always high. A flexible and supportive working environment is coupled with a range of rewards for high performance – to ensure that employees always feel that their hard work will be rewarded. Xledger also strives to be an inclusive employer – with a 50/50 gender split in its workforce, and a pay gap of less than 1%.
Atomic Smash is a business that strives to ensure employees are able to achieve a good work-life-balance. Flexible working hours are available alongside hybrid working spaces – giving team members control over when and how they work. When the pandemic hit, this arrangement made it possible for the Atomic Smash team to transition to working from home with ease and confidence.
During the pandemic, Kingston Barnes worked hard to help employees maintain morale and strong mental health. The business ensured that employees were in regular contact with management and each other, to help avoid isolation – and held a variety of virtual events to provide team members with a sense of socialisation that was sorely missed while working at home. Kingston Barnes’ flexible working policy was also a great help employees who needed to balance work and home responsibilities.
Sift has worked to create a working environment that is truly collaborative, and in which every member of the team feels secure and valued. Employees are regularly consulted on ways the company can improve, and are given the space to control their own work. Members of the team are supported by Sift through a range of benefits the company offers – including enhanced maternity and paternity leave, flexible working, and mental health counselling.
Thornbury Community Services
Thornbury Community Services worked hard to support its employees during the pandemic, and help them manage the pressures of providing care during a pandemic. The business set up a wellbeing calendar, with a variety of events across the year that supported employees with different areas of mental health. TCS also supports team members in their efforts to learn and improve – with mentorship schemes, training programmes, and job swap schemes that help employees find the right role, and flourish in it.
IAMBOB Special Award, sponsored by Bristol Waste Company
In 2020, BusinessLive and parent company Reach Plc launched a campaign called IAMBOB to help support the growth of the UK’s black economy. IAMBOB is part of the work Reach is doing to represent all the communities it serves around the UK and includes a monthly newsletter full of news and views from Britain’s black business community. This award follows on from the work they have been doing throughout the year to champion the success of Britain’s black businesses. The award will go to an individual or business that has demonstrated a real spirit for entrepreneurship and innovation, and can show determination and concerted planning to achieve further success for their business.
Originally starting as a motivational course, Street2Boardroom has since developed into a company that provides former offenders with support and a chance to make a new start. Street2Boardroom offers mentoring, networking, and the chance to build skills across a wide range of sectors and subjects – with the aim of helping people enter the corporate world or even set up their own business. Street2Boardroom also works with local businesses, to help them improve their inclusion practices.
Founded in 2017, luxury handbag brand Amschela began on Instagram. In the years since, the business has grown impressively – showing at London Fashion Week, and becoming a member of the British Fashion Council. Amschela is also a business dedicated to sustainability – launching a vegan handbag range, using sustainable packaging, and working to become a 100% vegan brand over the next twelve months.
Arima & Co
Arima & Co is a business that works with other companies to help them create marketing that is truly inclusive. Arima & co has already worked with clients like Coke, Adobe and Nationwide – all after making the impressive jump from social media management company to consultancy, in the midst of the pandemic.
Local Business Hero, sponsored by In Your Area
Amy Steele – Funky Pigeon
Amy Steele launched the ‘Believe in Happy’ campaign after her own experiences suffering with post-natal depression a few years ago. The idea is to provide people with important mental health information, and break the stigma around mental health. The range of cards contains information on who to contact in the event of a mental health crisis – with 30% of sales going to the mental health charity Mind. Since launching, more than 35,000 cards and gifts have sold and the campaign has raised around £33,000 for Mind, as well as much-needed awareness of the importance of mental health.
AL Accounting Solutions
AL Accounting Solutions is a company that has dedicated itself to supporting the African Caribbean community in Bristol. The business has worked with organisations like the Sierra Leone Bristol Association, the Sierra Women Independent Group and the African Voices Forum – providing support in a range of ways, from webinars on financial literacy to free auditing services.
Throughout lockdown, The Plough ran a volunteer scheme dedicated to providing struggling families with much-needed fresh fruit and veg. Reliant on the donations of strangers, the programme saw thousands of boxes delivered throughout Bristol. The Plough was also one of the driving venues behind the Bristol Rules campaign, which aims to educate people on enjoying city nightlife safely.
Business Person of the Year, sponsored by Kingston Barnes
Samantha Seaton – Moneyhub
As part of the team at Moneyhub, Samantha Seaton is dedicated to helping consumers achieve financial control and wellness. She has worked on a number of projects to open up banking and financial services, including the creation of the world’s first QR code-based open banking payment. She collaborates with various organisations to help open up the financial world and is a member of the advisory board at the Big Exchange, the Digital Advisory Panel at Newbury Building Society, and is a non-executive director at the Charities Aid Foundation bank.
Darrell Irwin – Cre8ion
Darrell Irwin launched brand marketing agency Cre8ion in 2016, making it independent after spending years as the design branch of a charity. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, he remained undaunted, setting up two companies during that time – the software company Di9ital, and HUM4ANS, a platform dedicated to helping people flourish and reach their full potential. Throughout, he has remained dedicated to the idea of achieving something meaningful and having a positive impact, rather than chasing profit.
Start-Up Business of the Year, sponsored by Future Leap
Imaginatal is an ultrasound clinic dedicated to providing top-quality care and information to help parents through a pregnancy. The company provides a variety of scans that cover all stages of the pregnancy and other areas, including fertility scans and NIPT Blood Tests. During the pandemic, Imaginatal worked with the NHS to ensure that patients were safe, and could get peace of mind regarding their pregnancy during a troubling time.
ChoirCast is a virtual choir designed to help people connect and continue to enjoy singing during the pandemic. With 30-50 members, the ChoirCast group took on a variety of projects that gave people a much needed outlet to socialise and take part in something creative during a difficult year. Based in Bristol, the business strove to form strong ties between its singers, creating a community of people from all walks of life.
Mila Plants is a houseplants and homeware business that aims to bring the wellbeing benefits of nature to people’s homes. Founded during the pandemic as a small project, within months Mila Plants was trading at St Nic’s Market in Bristol. In December, the business opened its first physical store – stocking a wide range of plants and homewares, and supporting more than 20 local craftspeople by providing them with a retail platform.
SME Business of the Year, sponsored by Opportuni AI
Plume is a business that provides custom e-learning platforms, designed to help learners and providers get the most out of a course. Founded in 2014 as a web design agency, Plume began specialising in e-learning in 2018 and since then has delivered 170 projects and served 4.9 million users worldwide. When the pandemic hit, the increased need for e-learning provided a significant opportunity for Plume and it experienced a significant growth in revenue, as well as its team doubling from four to eight.
With more than 40 years of experience, Halsall is a construction contractor committed to high-quality work. Halsall strives to create a positive working environment, implementing a health and wellbeing strategy to support employees, and providing apprenticeships training programmes for members of the team to develop and grow. The business has also been given the ROSPA gold award five years in a row, for outstanding control of risk.
The company offers clients a range of flexible funding solutions to best suit their business. During the pandemic, the funding that Optimum provided was extremely important to some of its clients – with the work it facilitated including the supply of partition walls to Nightingale hospitals, and reusable medical gowns to NHS workers. Despite the hit that the pandemic delivered to the invoice finance market, Optimum grew its list of clients in 2021.
SpiderGroup is a business that offers a variety of services, from IT support, to web design, to digital marketing – to help a business become more efficient, capable, and connected. SpiderGroup worked hard to support other businesses during the pandemic, helping many of them utilise digital resources properly to grow and evolve – creating a free, weekly online networking event that let businesses collaborate during a difficult time.
Large Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Grant Thornton
Huboo’s operating system lets SMEs handle inventory warehouse, channel and courier management easily – allowing them to compete against big businesses on a global scale. Since 2018, Huboo’s annual turnover has risen from £61k to £4.2m – and a result that has already been outdone for 2021. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Huboo hired 149 new employees in 2020, grew its warehouse space and now plans to expand into Europe and create hundreds of new jobs.
Etex Building Performance
Etex is a business that is firmly committed to serving employees, the community and the environment. The business is currently working on a £150m investment to build a new plasterboard line, providing jobs and boosting the local economy. Etex also began a technical operator programme designed to help employees develop their skills, and began taking on apprentices. The business is also committed to sustainable practice, delivering zero landfill waste over the last year.
Outstanding Contribution To Bristol Award
Marti is a Bristol-based lawyer and entrepreneur, who has been advising SMEs on corporate and commercial law for more than 20 years.
She is currently a partner at national law firm Bevan Brittan and also co-owns Bristol nightclub and music venue Lakota, which she bought with her brother in 1994.
Marti sits on a number of boards including the Bristol Cultural Development Partnership and Bristol City Council’s Economy Board where she represents ‘Bristol @ Night’ – an advisory panel set up to bring together people working in the city’s night time economy.
She is the former chair of the St Pauls Carnival and current chair of the Black South West Network – a black-led infrastructure organisation that has worked extensively with black and minority ethnic communities across the Bristol city and wider region.