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Monday 29th April 2019

The Leeds Digital Festival Awards take place TOMORROW (30th April 2019).

The LDF Awards celebrate the success of the digital and tech industry in Leeds and the wider city region over the last year. The thriving scene is not only home to start-ups and SMEs, but also much larger businesses where tech is at the heart of everything they do.

The awards will celebrate the organisations and individuals who are driving the vibrant industry and making Leeds a fantastic hub of digital innovation. 

With just a day to go until the big night, we thought we'd take the opportunity to get to know our fantastic shortlisted individuals and organisations.

In this blog we find out more about the 'Entrepreneur of the Year ' shortlist, including reasons why they were nominated and some of their thoughts on being shortlisted...


Tim Mercer - Vapour Cloud

Here is a little bit about some of the reasons Tim was shortlisted...

"Tim Mercer is not your average tech entrepreneur. Having spent seven years in the military (including his 18th and 21st birthdays on the front line) he has learned the true meaning of teamwork, and this strong sense of camaraderie is core to the culture among Vapour Cloud’s workforce today. 

Having sold almost everything he owned almost six years ago, he was determined to make Vapour work. Fast forward to 2019 he has gone out and secured £4m of funding, built a team of circa 30 people, and developed a suite of stand-out cloud-first products and services used by small businesses and large household brands alike. The past 12 months have been phenomenal." 

Here's what Tim had to say about being shortlisted...

Anna Sutton - The Data Shed

Here's a little bit about some of the reasons Anna was shortlisted...

"The Data Shed is a consultancy based in Leeds specialising in data integration and analytical projects. Working with a wide range of clients (including TATE, Hermes, Friends of the Earth, GAMSTOP), their focus is always on driving value and insight from any data project. 

As one of the two co-founders, Anna’s marketing and agency background means she brings a commercial background to new projects and clients, alongside the technical expertise of her co-founder, Ed Thewlis. This means that every project and product developed by the technical team has value for the client at its core.

Anna also develops the recruitment and culture strategy of The Data Shed, ensuring  that the original culture of the firm has not been lost during the recent growth. Anna is also keen to encourage the next generation of digital employees and has recruited two recent graduates from the Northcoders coding academy to give them their first role in the sector.

Anna is a strong advocate of women working, or wanting to work, in tech. Only 17% of tech firms worldwide have a female co-founder and Anna has worked with a number of organisations to increase that number."

Taz Aldawoud - Doc Abode

Here's a little bit about some of the reasons Taz was shortlisted...

"Taz was born with an entrepreneurial spirit which drives his passion in everything he sets out to achieve. He works tirelessly on healthcare innovations which bring genuine improvements to NHS patient care.

Taz continues to work as a front-line practicing GP but during his GP training over 10 years ago, he undertook a MBA with Specialism in Healthcare Strategy knowing back then that he wanted to exercise his entrepreneurial talent within the NHS.

Taz is a portfolio GP who holds several roles flourishing innovative ideas in the NHS with the main purpose of reducing health inequalities and improving outcomes for patients. He works within the NHS as a Board member and Chief Clinical Information Officer (CCIO) for NHS Bradford & Airedale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and as Digital Clinical Champion for NHS England.

Taz's main passion however, is through being the Founder and CEO of his Leeds based digital start-up, Doc Abode which in its short life, has already won national awards such as HSJ's Award for Partnership with the NHS and Best Workforce Innovation.

He was the Director of Innovation for Social Enterprise and Urgent Care provider Local Care Direct in 2013 which culminated in winning the Social Enterprise UK Award for Innovation for the Telehealth service he set up delivering remote telemonitoring for over 500 patients over 2 years in Leeds who were suffering with chronic health conditions including Heart Failure and COPD."

Revannth N Murugesan - Carbon Performance

Here's a little bit about some of the reasons Revannth was shortlisted...

" Revannth founded an automotive tech start-up called Carbon Performance, that develops next-generation, smart, 3D Printed environmentally sustainable automotive components that are inspired by Nature, using Artificial Intelligence, Metal 3D Printing, Augmented Reality, and Internet Of Things. Carbon Performance is a disruptive, radical tech start-up that aims to tackle the automotive industry's environmental and consumer experience through the use of in-house deep tech innovations.

Founded a deep tech start-up from bare scratch and grew it to be recognised as "One of the UK's most exciting tech startups" and "one of the top 3 tech startups in Yorkshire and the Humber" in just 11 months.

Revannth came to the UK as a timid post-grad student and worked his way to running a disruptive start-up, that has been recognised as one of the top 20 early-stage tech startups in the UK. Being in a new country with absolutely no contacts in business or the UK's automotive industry, Revannth had to start from ground zero and worked his way up to being recognised as an expert in his field."

Here's what Revannth had to say about being shortlisted...

“It feels overwhelming to have been nominated for two awards and both me and Carbon Performance couldn’t be more grateful for the immense support we have received and continue to receive from the wider Leeds tech community. Having been in Leeds for 3 years now, I am amazed at how the Leeds tech scene has boomed and cannot be prouder to add to the tech scene here in Leeds and Yorkshire.”

Simon Barratt - Cooperative Innovations

Here's a little bit about some of the reasons Simon was shortlisted...

"Cooperative Innovations creates cutting-edge Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technology and content for a wide range of industries – from architecture and training through to games and automotive. 

Co-founder and CEO Simon Barratt (celebrating his 20th year since joining the games development industry recently!) has with his co-founder Brian Marshall built up a diverse 12 person team from scratch, raised $650k in their recent seed round and continues to grow the studio. 

Simon works as a visionary for the studio, combining market and industry knowledge with his technical background and insights from the development team to create new content and technology which are already helping to push the state of the art in VR and AR. 

Simon champions diversity in games – from being an ambassador of disability gaming charity special effect to running the annual Get Into Gaming event promoting women in games development.  

Simon also works with University of Leeds and York across their enterprise, training and course development.  

Simon has sat on the board of industry trade body UKIE (UK Interactive Entertainment) for over 5 years helping steer government policy, build events such as Games London, Digital Schoolhouse (a national educational programme for schoolchildren in coding) 

Here is what Simon had to say about being shortlisted...

“I’m extremely honoured to be shortlisted for the award and to be among such a great bunch of nominees. The entire team at Cooperative Innovations have worked hard this last year and we continue to push the bleeding edge of Virtual and Augmented Reality development and technology.”

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