A host of innovative startups, focusing on reducing plastic waste and developing online tools to root out prejudice and bias, were among the winners at the 2019 Bright Red Sparks awards.
The awards, led by Edinburgh Napier University’s Bright Red Triangle enterprise arm, recognise and celebrate innovative products and services developed by startups, spin-outs, fledgling companies and entrepreneurs.
Selected from a shortlist of 16 finalists over two judging rounds, six winners were chosen at the awards ceremony, held at Edinburgh’s Balmoral Hotel on Thursday evening.
The winners will share £10,000 in prize money, with winners in the Going for Growth, Bright Ideas and Business for Good categories also sharing £14,000 of in-kind legal support from law firm Shepherd and Wedderburn.
Commenting on the awards, John Morrison of Shepherd and Wedderburn, said: “The quality of Bright Red Sparks entries was once again very impressive, demonstrating the innovative thinking and drive needed to build successful businesses and charitable ventures.
“We wish all of the winners, and indeed all of the finalists, the very best of luck for the future.”
The Winners Shortlist
Bright Ideas: Barbara Melville, BiaScan
Barbara Melville received the Bright Ideas award for her work developing an early-stage business, BiaScan.
The company offers businesses a web-based “spellchecker for prejudice”, which aims to help with recruitment and increase diversity, productivity, innovation and profit for businesses.
Commenting on Melville’s award, John Morrison said: “Businesses are ever-more focused on how they can improve the diversity of their workforce and BiaScan is a welcome tool to assist with that, and as such, will likely be of significant interest to businesses.”
Business for Good: Shannon Fontius, echo shoppe Ltd
Napier University graduate Shannon Fontius’ early-stage startup aims to reduce plastic pollution by enabling customers to lead a more low-impact lifestyle. The company offers consumers a wide range of practical, ethically-sourced zero waste and refill products.
The finalist judging panel described Fontius’ startup as being a “very well defined idea with both social and environmental impact that has demonstrated how to supplement existing businesses.”
Going for Growth: Tom Inglis, Wildcat Applications Ltd
Cenefits, the latest project from web and mobile applications developer, Wildcat Applications’, helps public sector organisations manage and assess social and community benefits added to contracts.
In the long term, Inglis hopes to extend the service offering to private companies that issue their own tenders. Judges noted that Wildcat has a “solid track record with high profile customers”, and that the startup offers a “clearly defined opportunity for sales growth, with clear goals”.
Other winners on the night include:
- Geraint Florida-James, academic lead at the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland in the Enterprising Educators category
- Maximilian Brooks in the Creative Consultants category, and
- Isabel Dosser, Dignity Boxes in the Active Citizens category
Kirsty Irvine, business development senior manager at Johnston Carmichael – sponsor of the Going for Growth Award – said: “Bright Red Triangle plays a key role in Edinburgh’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, offering invaluable support to entrepreneurs and companies at the early stages of their growth journey.
“As an accountancy firm that works with some of the country’s most innovative and high growth businesses, Johnston Carmichael were thrilled to help judge the Going for Growth award. All finalists showed great promise, spirit and business acumen, and Johnston Carmichael looks forward to helping the winner exploit future opportunities, overcome potential challenges and scale their business in Scotland and beyond.”