• Blockchain startup Everledger disrupting blood diamond trade, international money laundering, insurance fraud and art theft, with new provenance tracking technology – wins Innovator of the Year Award.
• Product of the Year award for radical skincare brand Gallinee, founded by Dr Marie Drago. Paradigm shift in skincare, with products based on patented biotechnology, promoting friendly bacteria on the skin.
• Winners chosen from 50 highly innovative nominees for prestigious business awards.
• Big coup for female entrepreneurs – both winning ventures are led by pioneering women.
• Jessica Butcher, founder of Blippar, among 20-strong judging panel of independent experts, pioneers, investors & innovation experts.
Everledger and Gallinée were this week awarded the prestigious Innovator of the Year & Product of the Year titles at the Penrose Awards, held at Camden Interchange, London, in recognition of their radical young businesses in the fields of insurance and skincare.
In its second year running, the Penrose Awards are supported by partners including The UK Business Angels Association, Tech City UK and London & Partners. The award ‘by and for pioneers’ is backed by an elite alliance of entrepreneurs and investors – designed to champion the UK’s most radical startups. 50 nominees were in the running for the prestigious Innovator of the Year and Product of the Year titles. The evening brought together over 200 founders, investors and technology specialists, showcasing exciting inventions, with a panel discussion on AI and the future of the ‘qualification’, led by Jeremy Brown, CEO of innovation consultancy Sense Worldwide. Panelists included Jonathan Margolis of the Financial Times, Steve O’Hear of TechCrunch, Dr Charles Wiles, CEO of ed-tech startup Zzish, and Dr Ali Parsa, founder of Babylon Health, both of which have AI technologies within their burgeoning ventures.
Jessica Butcher, founder of the unicorn venture Blippar, an augmented reality tech startup, was among the 20-strong judging panel, alongside big-name VCs, Angel Investors, Corporate Innovation leads, and pioneer entrepreneurs.
Vernon Hill, billionaire entrepreneur and founder of Metrobank, held a keynote presentation on challenger businesses, innovation and the future of banking.
Speaking of Innovator of the Year winner, 2016 Awards Judge Theo Osborne of Force Over Mass Capital commented: “Everledger is a truly radical business. It is the world’s most sophisticated fraud detection system and a game-changer for the insurance market. It has the potential to eliminate billions of pounds in illegal trade of blood diamonds, as well as arresting billions of pounds in fraud, money laundering and fine art theft. Diamonds are the currency of choice for mafia, gun runners and terrorists around the world. Tracking them on Blockchain is an ingenious way to disrupt this. Everledger is likely to change the way the insurance industry operates globally, and had has amazing success in its 18 months of trading.”
Founded by technology and diamond expert Leanne Kemp, Everledger is a permanent ledger for high value assets (such as diamonds), with their transaction history recorded on blockchain. This means verification for insurance companies, owners, claimants and law enforcement, which helps prevent insurance fraud and illegal trades.
Leanne Kemp commented: “London is at the epicentre of financial services. I feel very fortunate to be working at the forefront of emerging technology such as blockchain, machine vision and smart contracts at a time where what we are building will transform global trade forever. Beyond the tech, being connected to a peer network of inspiring entrepreneurs and working in an environment that recognises brilliance in innovation motivates us to do more, faster.”
When asked what advice she would give to young aspiring girls – entrepreneurs of the future – Kemp said: “Learn to code! There is something genius and beautiful about binary and using this to create software from a simple string of ones and zeroes.”
Product of the Year winner is Gallinée – a radical new brand of patented skincare products, based on advanced biotechnology pioneered by Dr Marie Drago, a doctor in pharmacy with over 15 years’ experience. An expert in the microbiome, the products are designed to take care of the skin and its bacterial ecosystem, the microbiome.
Speaking of the Product of the Year winner, awards judge Dr Ali Parsa, founder of Babylon Health commented: “Gallinee’s patented technology challenges the relationship between humans and friendly bacteria, harnessing powerful natural processes and hard science to create a potent range of products that promotes skin health in a way that many products in this category only promise to do.”
Dr Marie Drago commented: “I think we are reaching a point in the beauty industry where we will see more probiotic products on shelf. We are simply the first ones in what will likely be a wider market. Our relationship with bacteria is a strange one. We tend to recoil, and yet the human body is actually 50% bacteria; many of these are essential to our health and well being. Winning this award means a lot to me because I think it will prime the beauty industry to rethink the way current beauty products are formulated, and to embrace a different line of thinking. The beauty industry has been guilty of doing the same thing for 200 years, filling shelves with products that don’t do what they say on the tin. Now we have the mileage to do something that is different based on real scientific research and thinking.”
Drago continued: “I love the diversity of the people I meet here within the London Innovators network. They are full of crazy ideas and are working on amazing projects – it’s incredibly inspiring and supportive.”
With both winning ventures headed up by pioneering women, this year’s London Innovator Awards is a real coup for female entrepreneurs within the technology industry, where women are among many other under-represented groups succeeding in a predominately white male world.
Douglas Bell, serial entrepreneur and founder of London Innovators (Penrose Awards) comments: “You appoint yourself as an entrepreneur – no one is going chose you. It’s 100% self-made, and self-appointed. The UK startup scene is burgeoning and vibrant; maturing fast. We’re seeing companies with extraordinary growth potential emerge – many run by very young people who recognize that they can do it, and, I’m pleased to say, a growing number run by talented females.
“We don’t profile enough female role models, and when we do, the content is often extremely patronising. I think that’s a real problem. Here we have two incredible winners who should be recognized as great entrepreneurs first. It’s inspiring, and very positive to have two female winners for the Penrose Awards this year – they deserve huge credit, as their businesses are achieving extraordinary things.”
Bell continued: “Some of the smartest ventures around today are headed up by female founders, but all of the Penrose Awards Nominees are solving big, meaningful problems in highly innovative ways. They are ignoring gender politics; rising above it. I am optimistic that the trend will continue.”
Winners of the Penrose Innovation Awards 2016 are automatically enrolled in the Mayor’s International Business Programme, which helps high-growth companies from London’s tech and life sciences sectors to expand overseas with high-level international introductions and mentorship. Membership provides companies with opportunities such as: mentoring from entrepreneurs including Anthony Fletcher of Graze, Sarah Wood of Unruly and Alistair Paterson of Digital Shadows; undertaking trade missions globally (highlights have included meeting Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook and ringing the closing bell at NYSE), as well as access workshops and events in the UK.