“We think we might have started something big.”
The Star editor Nancy Fielder hailed the energy and enthusiasm at the first Sheffield Digital Awards, on a gala celebration evening that crowned the city’s new tech royalty.
Some 200 people attended the ceremony at the new tech hub Kollider at Castle House.
Speaker, David Richards, co-founder and chief executive of WANdisco said: “I think the turnout is amazing.”
He then outlined the scale and rapid growth of the sector: Sheffield has 22,034 tech jobs worth £684m-a-year and each employee is worth £120,000 turnover. There were 97 tech ‘births’ last year alone.
He added: “I came to Sheffield in 2010 and my peers in the South East thought I was mad. But Sheffield is a very important part of our global strategy and it has served us very well, it is home to our best engineers.”
And after setting out the incredible power of artificial intelligence, he said education needed to change.
“Values, skills, independent thinking and beliefs, those soft skills a computer will never have. Education should focus on that, it shouldn’t be based on the ability to remember stuff.”
Kollider director Nick Morgan: “It’s amazing to see you all here. Your stories, ideas and potential are the reason why this building exists.
“Big thanks to The Star for having the idea and supporting us and letting us support them.”
The awards were sponsored by XLN for business, Barclays Eagle Labs, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield City Council and BHP Chartered Accountants. And supported by Sheffield Digital and Kollider at Castle House. The event was livestreamed by Sheffield company Stream7. Maxons Sheffield provided the sweets.
Best online personality: Helen Milner, chief executive of Good Things Foundation
Helen is founder and chief executive of the country’s leading tech-for-good charity whose ambition is a world where everyone can benefit from digital. Not only is she leader of the Sheffield-based organisation, but she is also influential in the field of digital inclusion on a national and international scale, bringing its transformative power to people across the world.
She is a champion of social equity and has spent her career campaigning for everyone to have access to the skills that can enable them to take advantage of the opportunities they deserve.
Best web or mobile application: The Circle app by Joi Polloi
Joi Polloi built an app which enabled viewers of the Channel 4 reality TV programme to influence the outcome through. It was extremely popular, hitting the top of the free app charts on the day of the live final.
Best video game: Crackdown 3 by Sumo
Crackdown 3 was published by Microsoft Studios and released worldwide in February. It is an action-packed third-person shooter where you play as super-powered agent Terry Crews in a sandbox of mayhem and destruction.
Best economic support initiative: Myhrtoolkit
Myhrtoolkit provides a simple web-based software system that dramatically reduces admin and enables managers to focus on more mission-critical tasks.
Rated as ‘Excellent’ on TrustPilot, is used by more than 1,000 organisations.
Best use of tech in industry: Performance Engineered Solutions
PES provides 3D scanning services, taking information from the physical world to the digital to cut inspection or product development time, or extend the life of equipment and vehicles.
Best digital arts and culture project: Playground by The Children's Media Conference
The two week exhibition introduces young people to the concept of digital as a creative discipline. Some 1,200 delegates come to Sheffield in July to attend the conference.
Best tech for good: Good Things Foundation
Sheffield's Good Things Foundation aims to achieve social change through digital. Since 2010, its has reached more than 2.5m people and helped them gain digital skills through the 5,000-strong Online Centres Network, the award-winning Learn My Way platform, and a range of projects and focused on having a real impact on improving the lives of socially and digitally excluded people.
Most innovative use of digital tech: The Floow
In March 2017, The Floow received £13m investment to develop its telematics insurance platform, FloowDrive.
It puts the firm’s capabilities into a white-labelled platform for insurers to help reduce the number of claims through education, feedback, rewards schemes and a driver coaching programme, FloowCoach.
Best international success: Zoo Digital
Over the last 12 years ZOO has become a supplier to the largest buyers of TV and movie content including all of the ‘Big Five’ studios. It also works with 5,500 translators worldwide and provides cloud-based subtitling, dubbing and digital distribution.
Young entrepreneur of the year: Anna Bollinger
Anna has founded two companies and one social enterprise, making an impact on Sheffield’s digital ecosystem and beyond!
She has also given talks on entrepreneurship at universities and provided young women with work experience.