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Who's who in British business revealed: An inside look at UK's longest running business awards programme

14 min read

11 July 2018

Editorial Director

Everything you need to know about this year's Amazon Growing Business awards, from its 20-year legacy to the 125 finalists for 2018.

The Amazon Growing Business Awards are back. Here’s everything you need to know about 2018, from our 20-year legacy to the top 125 finalists for 2018.

Update (1 October 2018): The Amazon Growing Business Awards announces finalists for 2018. Skip ahead to read about the 125 ambitious growing British businesses that made the cut. 

A 20-year legacy: What do Bill Gates, Revolut, and Innocent Drinks have in common?

Bill Gates is known for many things, but attending business awards ceremonies isn’t one of them. Yet he was one of the VIPs who graced the Growing Business Awards over the years, along with the likes of Gordon Brown and Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

Now the awards programme is in its 20th year, and UK’s ambitious growing businesses have the opportunity to join the ranks of some of the most disruptive British SMEs of all time.

Over the past two decades, winners of the Growing Business Awards have gone on to build multi-million-pound businesses that have put British entrepreneurship on the map. The awards have celebrated remarkable disruptive businesses, with past winners including Innocent Drinks, Go Ape, Zoopla, and Fever-Tree.

“At Amazon, we are passionate about supporting growing businesses – large or small, urban or rural, up and down the country,” says Doug Gurr, UK country manager, Amazon.

“Amazon.co.uk launched in 1998, and 20 years on, tens of thousands of SMEs across the UK have joined us in innovating to improve customer choice and experience. We look forward to shining a spotlight on the best of British business.”

This year, the event will be returning to the Brewery, London, and will take place on 28th November.

“We’re thrilled to once again be supporting the Amazon Growing Business Awards – celebrating the stories of the brightest scale-up firms who are making a substantial contribution to the UK economy. SMEs make up 99% of the UK’s private sector businesses and the majority of UK employment.” – CBI Innovation Director, Tom Thackray.

The winners’ circle

Previous winners have grown to become some of the UK’s most recognisable and successful brands, including Revolut, Go Ape, Innocent Drinks, Betfair and Fever-Tree. Signifying the importance of these awards and the value of the SME sector to the UK economy as a whole.

At last year’s awards, London-based makers of nut butter, Pip & Nut, won the award for Consumer Business of the Year. Since winning, Pip & Nut has gone onto further success by launching across 800 Tesco stores in May 2018, meaning Pip & Nut products are now stocked across the four largest UK supermarkets – Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons and Asda. Pip & Nut also raised a further £1m investment in April 2018, allowing the business to accelerate export plans.

“I was thrilled to win the Consumer Business of the Year Award last year, amid such a strong set of dynamic brands on the final shortlist,” Pip Murray, founder of Pip & Nut, says.

“At a time when consumer experience and satisfaction are outmost importance, I’m pleased to see this category called out in its own right for a dedicated award.” – Pip Murray, founder, Pip & Nut.

“Over the past year, I have met so many fellow entrepreneurs who take pride in delivering a quality consumer product or service. So I’m sure there is no shortage of excellent consumer businesses deserving of accolade at this year’s Amazon Growing Business Awards.”

The Amazon Growing Business Awards have a passionate and dedicated alumni network of finalists and winners, many of whom have gone on to become internationally renowned success stories.

Top triple bottom line businesses: Celebrating positive impact

A new category has been added to the mix for 2018; the Bridges Positive Impact Award.

The award is backed by Bridges Fund Management, a specialist sustainable and impact investor, and has been introduced to recognise growing businesses that put people and planet alongside profit.

“Over the last 15 years, we’ve seen first-hand that business – powered by the right insight and investment – has a remarkable ability to drive positive social and environmental change,” says Philip Newborough, managing partner of Bridges.

“Around the world, there’s a growing recognition that this is the future of business. We hope that the new Positive Impact award will highlight some of the amazing British companies that are helping to bring this new paradigm to life – and making the world a better place in the process.”

2018 Amazon Growing Business Awards finalists

Among the businesses shortlisted, more than one in five businesses were from Britain’s technology industry. These include businesses such as Imaginera, a software consultancy which offers bespoke software development services to the reinsurance sector; ENSEK which creates software products that enable better billing systems and data management in the UK energy industry and Giacom, Europe’s largest reseller-only channel for cloud services.  

[tabs] [tab title=”Mike Wardell, Giacom”]“We’ve had a great year at Giacom and to receive a nomination for an Amazon Growing Business Award is a fantastic bonus. It’s encouraging to know that businesses like Amazon and organisations like the CBI and Real Business value the work done by our team and we’re really excited to attend the awards ceremony in London on November 28th.” [/tab] [tab title=”Jon Slade, ENSEK”]“We’re delighted with the nomination. To have your work recognised by Amazon, the CBI and Real Business is both rewarding and humbling. The Amazon Growing Business Awards is the leading awards programme for businesses in the UK and we’re all hoping we bring the award back to Nottingham.” [/tab] [tab title=”Michelle Crawford, Imaginera”]“Being shortlisted for an Amazon Growing Business Award is a fantastic achievement for the team at Imaginera and we’re thrilled to get this recognition from Amazon and Real Business. Our company has been growing strongly and consistently over the last five years and this award nomination is a testament to the hard work and dedication of all those involved. We’re really excited to attend the big event on November 28th.”  [/tab] [/tabs]

Entrepreneur of the Year 

As well as company honours, the Amazon Growing Business Awards recognises the achievements of individual entrepreneurs in the category of Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Finalists this year include:

  • Rachel Jones, founder of Edinburgh based IP monitoring business SnapDragon
  • Darren Fell, founder and CEO of Brighton based Crunch, an online accounting firm making it easier for people to run their own business
  • Craig Bunting, co-founder and director of BEAR, an independent coffee, kitchen and bar with sites across the Midlands
  • Andrew Preston, CEO of Knutsford-based GRI, entrusted with the management of £1billion in recruitment spend
  • Christopher Fagan, director of Access Installa smart metering operator based in Liverpool
  • David Spencer-Percival, CEO of London-based No1 Rosemary Water, the world’s only drink containing pure rosemary extract
  • Dr Graeme Malcolm, CEO and Founder of M Squared, a photonics and quantum technology company based in London
  • Richard Potter, CEO of Manchester-based artificial intelligence business Peak

Young Company of the Year

Read more about the finalists in this category here.

Micro Business of the Year

The Growing Business of the Year: Smaller Company (Turnover up to £10m)

The Amazon Business Growing Business of the Year: Mid-sized Company (Turnover £25m-£50m)

The Santander Growing Business of the Year: Smaller Company (Turnover £10m-£25m)

The Santander Growing Business of the Year: Larger Company (Turnover £50m+)

Creative Industries Business of the Year

Family-Owned Business of the Year

Rural Business of the Year

The Amazon Marketplace Export Champion of the Year

The Amazon Web Services Digital Business of the Year

The ECI Partners B2B Business of the Year

The ECI Partners Consumer Business of the Year

Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Innovator of the Year

The Bridges Positive Impact Award

The Amazon Growing Business Awards is headlined by Amazon and sponsored by Santander, Bridges Fund Management and ECI Partners. It is supported by CBI, the Department of International Trade and Real Business. This year, the awards partnered with Beanstalk, a charity that recruits, trains and supports volunteers to provide consistent, one-to-one literacy support to children aged 3 to 13.

Bookmark this article to keep up-to-date on winners and more. 

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Learn more about the Amazon Growing Business AwardsInterested in attending the Amazon Growing Business Awards?
Get your ticket or book a table here. 
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