Seven Northern Ireland companies have been honoured at the fifth annual Aer Lingus Viscount Awards in London. The Awards, in association with Ulster Business, were held in the Royal Automobile Club and awarded those companies who have best demonstrated a positive impact on the Northern Ireland economy and a strong collaboration between Northern Ireland and Britain.
The seven-strong judging panel deliberated over 100 of the province’s most entrepreneurial and innovative companies before deciding on the eventual winners. The panel comprised Valerie Abbott, Commercial Manager of Aer Lingus in Northern Ireland; Symon Ross, Editor of Ulster Business; Tracy Meharg, Managing Director of the Innovation & Capability Group at Invest NI; Roseann Kelly, Chief Executive of Women in Business NI; Adrienne McGill, Business Editor of the News Letter; Gary McDonald, Business Editor of the Irish News; and Alan Taylor, Managing Partner at Arthur Cox.
Most Innovative Company of the Year: Williams Industrial Services. The judges were impressed by their ability to leapfrog European competition in order to design a state of the art anaerobic digestion plant, specifically to suit the Irish Farmer.
Exporter of the Year: Sepha, a business that has grown its export sales to account for approximately 99% revenue outside of Northern Ireland, by investing significantly across all areas of their business including product innovation, marketing and staff training.
Small Company of the Year: The Deluxe Group, who have invested almost half a million pounds in new state-of-the-art design machinery to expand exports in 2012 and who were recently awarded a £2 million contract against international competition for works to a major theme park in Paris.
Medium Company of the Year: Brookevent. This company was chosen because of its ambitious export strategy, culminating in the development of eight new markets and their innovative range of new mechanical ventilation systems.
Large Company of the Year: Kainos Software, who witnessed significant growth in 2012 with the creation of 120 new jobs as a result of taking on landmark projects for the UK Government Digital Services to help transform public services with their digital technology.
Outstanding Contribution: This award recognises the outstanding contribution a person, group or company has brought to the future success of Northern Ireland and was awarded to Mark Huffam CBE of Generator Entertainment. The judges acknowledged that his company’s presence in Belfast has been a decisive factor in luring studio productions such as Game of Thrones and Your Highness, who utilise hundreds of local extras and crew.
Entrepreneur of the Year went to Peter Hannan of Hannan Meats, who was described as: “a passionate foodie who has brought success to his business through his commitment, innovation, energy and vision”.
Aer Lingus Viscount Award for Overall Excellence: Andor Technology.
Valerie Abbott, Aer Lingus Commercial Manager Northern Ireland, said: “We were hugely impressed again by the calibre of this year’s entrants and while only seven companies may be crowned Aer Lingus Viscount Award winners, all are a reminder of the immense talent creating prosperity across Northern Ireland and, indeed, across the world.
“As an airline we are proud to connect businesses with opportunities internationally every day via our Belfast City to Heathrow and Gatwick routes, and are pleased to see so many of these businesses pursuing global growth opportunities with a forward-thinking approach.
“As these winners attest, Northern Ireland has a great deal to be confident about.”