The strong performance of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire businesses in the 2019 Queen’s Award for Enterprise has been praised by Local Enterprise Partnership chairman David Frost CBE.
The LEP area is home to five of the 17 West Midlands firms honoured this year – plus one in the Tamworth area that is just over the county boundary – and the winners range from a software firm specialising in digital forensics to the creators of the world’s first plastic trombone.
David Frost commented: “The breadth of innovation, creativity and ambition demonstrated by these firms illustrates what a great place Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire is to do business, invest and grow. Our can-do attitude, motivated and skilled workforce, and pivotal location at the centre of the country are creating a thriving and diverse economy, with more and better jobs for local people.
“I congratulate all our Queen’s Award winners for the drive and commitment that is putting our region on the national and international map.”
The Queen’s Award winners in the Innovation category are Semantics 21 Ltd, based at Dunston Business Village, near Stafford, and Warwick Music Ltd, based just outside Tamworth.
Semantics 21 has been honoured for its development of innovative software that delivers streamlined digital forensics investigations of child sexual abuse images. The three-person company has crateded software using artificial intelligence and specially-developed algorithms to help police to identify perpetrators.
Warwick Music has been honoured for developing the pBone – the world’s first plastic trombone and now an international best-seller. The company, which employs just eight people, claims to have “saved the trombone from extinction” through the development of a plastic trombone. The firm redesigned the inner workings of the trombone to enable it to sound like a traditional brass version and been so successful that it is now branching out into other instruments.
Four businesses – Synectics Solutions, of Newcastle-under-Lyme and Burslem, Aviation News, based in Trent Vale, Allett, of Hixon, and Conversion Rate Experts, of Rugeley – have won the Queen’s Award for International Trade.
Synectics Solutions has developed products that prevent fraud in the online finance industry, including technology which can detect and identify new methods of fraud. Some 120 major financial services brands use Synectics’ technology, and it is estimated that the company, which employs 350 people, has helped to prevent £3bn in fraud.
Allett Ltd design and manufacture of specialised mowing systems for sports surfaces and prestige lawns, and supplied mowers for the last football World Cup. In 2018 the firm expanded into larger premises, after seeing overseas earnings grow by nearly 300 per cent to £2.25m over a six-year period.
Aviation News specialises in aviation finance and leasing. It owns and runs seven conferences and two exhibitions around the globe, as well as operating two daily digital news services and has seen overseas sales rise from £403,000 to £2.3m since its launch in 2010. business is international. Its top five markets are Ireland, the USA, China, Germany and France. It has recently entered new markets in the UAE and Israel, and 88 per cent of its business is international.
Conversion Rate Experts works with international businesses, including Amazon and Google, to boost website performance and sales. In the past three years, the Rugeley-headquartered company has entered new markets in Israel, UAE, Sweden, Hong Kong, Cyprus, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Indonesia. Overseas sales have risen year on year by a total of 86 per cent and overseas sales now account for 80 per cent of total sales.
Business secretary Greg Clark commented: “These prestigious awards help shine a light on all that is great about UK business today. I am extremely impressed to see such a wealth of talent and innovation from across the UK being recognised today by Her Majesty the Queen.
“Many of these winners are small businesses – the backbone of our economy – and we are backing them to grow, increase their productivity and create more jobs and opportunity across the UK through our modern Industrial Strategy.”