Apprenticeships, Training & Skills Award
Based in Middlesbrough, Intelect is a business that provides engineering solutions and expertise to clients in the process, renewables and heavy industries. To ensure that its work stays at a high standard, Intelect recognises the need to invest - in equipment, infrastructures and employees. The business has run apprenticeships since 1998 - having trained more than 100 people over 24 years. Offering courses in accountancy, design (CAD) and mechanical engineering among others, Intellect has formed invaluable working relationships with providers, to ensure that learners get the support and quality learning they need. The business also provides work experience to young people in the local area, to give them a chance to develop work skills and better understand the world of business.
PD Ports owns and operates Teesport - the UK’s fifth-largest port and a key facilitator of trade. With more than 22,000 employees, PD Ports is dedicated to developing talent and helping young people reach their full potential. The business has run an apprentice program for more than 20 years and currently employs 51 apprentices - with eight taken on in 2021 alone. PD Ports strives to ensure that apprentices get the support they need to kick start their careers - with 44% of all engineering staff having started as apprentices. The business has also engaged in a variety of projects to provide young people with a chance to develop their skills - including the founding of a charity that helps deliver internships and work experience to young people in Teesside.
Vianet Group PLC
Based in Stockton-on-Tees, Vianet Group PLC provides telemetry services to a range of industries - including the hospitality, unattended retail vending and remote asset management sectors. With 145 employees, Vianet is part of the North East Apprenticeship Ambassador Network (NEAAN) - working to provide people of all ages with the chance to launch their careers. The business saw eight apprentices graduate in 2022 - securing permanent roles and helping Vianet stay on the cutting edge. Vianet has also launched a dedicated training portal called SmartAcademy - providing employees with a wide range of training opportunities via e-learning videos, face-to-face courses and bespoke in-house courses. This platform gives employees the ability to learn and develop at their own pace, in a way that works for them.
High Growth & Ambition Award
Founded in 2011, Cleveland Containers is a family-owned business that supplies shipping containers to clients across the UK. Since it was first founded, the business has consistently demonstrated a consistent ability to achieve impressive results and growth. In its first year the business achieved a turnover of £1.1m - a figure that grew to a record-breaking result of £60m in 2022. Between 2021–2022, Cleveland Containers grew its profit from £4.4m to £10m, and increased its employee count by 29%. The business has consistently pursued growth through investment - in 2020 it invested £1.2m in a new headquarters, and in 2021 it launched a new division of the business - supplying other companies with site accommodations such as offices, canteens and toilet blocks.
Host and Stay
Host and Stay is a holiday home management service provider that helps holiday home owners maximise their investment. Founded in 2018, the business provides a range of management services - including housekeeping and maintenance, communicating with guests and marketing properties. When Host and Stay was first founded it worked with nine properties - which has grown over the years to more than 500. The business has also achieved a significant growth in its employee count - increasing the number of employees by almost 3000% in three years, as well as increasing revenue by 684% in that time. One way Host and Stay plans to grow in the future is through the development of a Host & Stay Academy - which will provide training to new and existing employees.
Made For Trade
Made For Trade (MFT) is a business that produces aluminium roof lanterns, sliding and bi-folding doors - employing more than 150 people and shipping products across the UK. Over the last 10 years the business has seen impressive growth - increasing turnover by 31% for 2021, increasing its employee count to 12, and producing a record 32,000 bespoke units in 2021. MFT also established a new 52,000 square feet premises in Hartlepool, to help it further expand its production capacities. MFT invested in a variety of ways to improve its service and drive growth - starting its own lantern courier service to reduce damage and loss, launching a project to standardise processes across the business and become more efficient, and investing in CRM software to improve customer experience.
Small Business Award
For more than 35 years, Exis Technologies has provided the maritime industry with digital solutions to help them meet compliance, efficiency and safety standards. With clients in more than 100 countries, Exis has helped these companies transport dangerous goods safely, playing a vital part in global trade. The business also provides e-learning services designed to help businesses ensure compliance - currently used by more than 100,000 students worldwide. In 2020, Exis launched Hazcheck Detect, a real-time cargo screening tool that allows for the identification of undeclared or misdeclared hazardous goods - screening more than 500,000 items a day. The introduction of Hazcheck has helped Exis grow - with an increase in turnover of 30%, and a rise in employee count of 40% in the last three years.
Lucid Technology Solutions
Starting off as Yarm Computers in 1989, Lucid Technology Solutions came about through the merger of three companies - Yarm Computers, Dotuk and Synergy. The business offers a wide range of technology solutions - including It support, telecoms and connectivity solutions to name a few. When it first started out, the business had two employees - a number that has grown to 20 over the years. Despite its small size, Lucid has been able to achieve impressive growth - with its 2021 turnover increasing by more than £500,000 compared to the previous year. Lucid plans to continue on this trend - planning to establish a new office in Newcastle, grow the development team from 9 to 15, and grow its IT support team from 11 to 20,all over the next 12 months.
Project Escape Ltd
Project Escape Ltd is a business that owns and runs escape rooms across Middlesbrough. When the business first started in 2017, it consisted of one room - which has grown to three rooms operating in the Dundas Shopping Centre, and two rooms in Hexham. Despite the difficulties of the pandemic, Project Escape was able to persevere during this time - and actually continued to recruit people through 2020 and 2021. The business also worked to support the local community during this time - donating toys to charities like Cash4kids, and making contributions to the MFC Foundation. Project Escape plans to grow even further over the coming year - with ambitions to open two new rooms at its Hexham site, and develop its app with online escape room games.
Based in Middlesbrough, Big Bite provides businesses with digital solutions based around the WordPress platform - helping clients improve the way they publish digital content, and make the most of the platform. Established in 2011, Big Bite has grown to a team of 28 over the years - working with clients including Gumtree, the New York Post and Amnesty International. The business has achieved impressive results in recent years, with a 60% increase in turnover for its last financial year - a success that has allowed it to continue recruiting and grow its team, with six new hires over the last year as well as two work placements for local students.
Great North Air Ambulance Service
Since 2002, the Great North Air Ambulance Service has operated as a charity that provides vital air ambulance services to ill or injured people in the north. Operating two helicopters 365 days a year, the air ambulance covers around 8000 square miles - and in its 20 years of activity has responded to more than 23,500 incidents. Great North Air Ambulance also offers a night service based around rapid response vehicles. Despite the pandemic having a serious impact on its fundraising, the charity kept its vehicles airborne to ensure people would be able to receive treatment - developing safety procedures to ensure that responders and patients were kept safe during this time.
Vianet Group PLC
Vianet Group PLC provides telemetry services to a range of businesses in the unattended retail vending, remote asset management and hospitality industries. With more than 2,300,000 devices attached to its software platforms, Vianet works with a wide range of clients - including brands like Lavazza, Greene King and Coca-cola. Vianet strives to provide a high quality service that meets the needs of clients in insightful and innovative ways. This was vital during the pandemic, when Vianet was able to utilise its expertise and adapt to new requirements from clients. This included the development and testing of new, high-value contactless payment machines within a week - to facilitate the easy sale of covid test kits in locations like airports.
Founded in 2019, BuildASpa is a manufacturer of acrylic spas, specialising in garden hot tubs and pre-made units. The business works with clients to help produce the perfect spa for them - with every part manufactured in-house. BuildASpa has achieved impressive results in its first three years - starting off with a turnover of £300,000 for its first year, which has grown to £6m for its third year. This is due in part to the business’ determination to constantly be improving and innovating its process. BuildASpa has invested in robotically-applied machinery, to ensure that the products it creates are consistently of the highest quality. Despite its quick growth, BuildASpa is also determined to be an environmentally-sound business - using recycled materials where possible to reduce environmental impact.
Made For Trade
Made For Trade is a business that designs and manufactures aluminium roof lanterns, sliding and bi-folding doors. With more than 200 employees, the business serves over 2000 trade customers each year - reaching a turnover of £36m in 2021, up from £2m in 2011. Made For Trade operates from three purpose-built fabrication units, measuring more than 250,000 square feet - giving it the capacity to control every part of the design and manufacture process, and ensure a quality product. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Made For Trade was able to persevere - producing a record 32,000 bespoke products, and increasing its revenue for 2021 by 31% compared to the previous year.
Press On Vinyl
Dedicated to providing clients with the best audio quality, Press On Vinyl is a business specialising in the production of vinyl records. With a team of experienced engineers, Press On Vinyl works to ensure that records are printed to a high standard every time. Despite only having been active for a few years, the business has achieved impressive results in a short time. Opening a pressing plant in 2021, Press On Vinyl can manufacture up to 50,000 records each month - helping it meet rising demand for this product. The business has also managed to grow even during the pandemic - with plans to hire 46 new workers - thanks to investment from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.
Heart of the Community Award
Based in Hartlepool, LilyAnne’s CIC is a coffee house that works to make a difference and improve community wellbeing. Creating a friendly environment, the company provides a non-judgmental space, and companionship designed to help those who may be struggling with their mental health or social isolation. LilyAnne’s also works to reduce the stigma around mental health, in the hopes of encouraging more people to be open about the subject. The company gives support to those in crisis, through companionship or assistance in pursuing specialised help - working with people who may be struggling with drug addiction, housing issues, financial difficulties, loneliness and more. In doing so, LillyAnne’s hopes to combat the social isolation that can negatively affect communities.
Nite Lite CIC
Started in 2020, Nite Lite CIC is an organisation that works to help people in poverty acquire basic essentials through a “pay it forward” scheme. People can donate drinks, food, snacks or hygiene via the website - which can then be collected by those in need from cafes and bistros that are partnered with Nite Lite. Originally set up to help the homeless, Nite Lite has since expanded its services to anyone who is facing poverty. The company also runs free market stalls where essential items can be collected, and goes out into the community to engage with people in need. Nite Lite has received a positive response from the local community - with six local businesses partnering with it to help those facing poverty.
Perimenopause Support UK CIC
Perimenopause Support UK CIC is a group that works to provide support and information to people experiencing perimenopause and menopause symptoms. Through its Facebook group, Perimenopause Support UK offers advice and information - as well as hosting live sessions with experts in a range of fields from GPs to nutritionists. In doing so, it provides a safe space to learn and understand the process of menopause better. Since its launch in May of 2021, this page has reached a total of almost 9000 members - providing a real community for those who may be struggling with menopause. Perimenopause Support UK plans to grow even further - aiming to host sessions around the country, while also working with businesses and schools to improve awareness and understanding of menopause.
Newcomer of the Year
Dash Media Ltd
Dash Media Ltd is a business that provides web design and marketing services to clients - offering bespoke websites that are designed to meet a client’s specific needs. With six independent divisions, Dash Media works with clients every step of the way - giving them a dedicated project manager, designer and developer to ensure quality at all times. The business also provides conversion rate optimisation (CRO), SEO, social media and marketing services among others - to provide support even when a website is finished, and make sure it performs as desired. Dash Media’s commitment to its clients has helped it grow impressively during a short time - going from a team of two to 22 in the space of just two years.
Established in 2019, MAAS Marketing is a business that works with learning and development departments - helping them become far more effective through an understanding of marketing. Despite only having been active for three years, MAAS has worked with more than 50 clients in 11 countries - with 65% returning for additional services. Dedicated to helping any business upskill its L&D department and better understand the importance of marketing, MAAS also holds educational webinars - as well as creating a podcast about marketing in learning that has amassed more than 4000 downloads. MAAS Marketing’s dedication to boosting the L&D industry and providing quality saw it named Start-Up Training Provider of the Year at the 2022 Learning Awards.
Secure Schools is dedicated to keeping schools safe, providing cyber security services to the UK education sector. In 2019, the business was selected for the National Cyber Security Centre’s Cyber Accelerator - designed to support new cyber companies - and has since worked with more than 300 schools on their cyber security. Secure Schools works to provide effective and innovative cyber security solutions that help schools stay ahead in a constantly changing environment. This was particularly important during the pandemic, as many schools switched to remote learning, and depend much more on cyber security. Secure Schools has also worked to ensure that cyber security processes are included in funding requirements for academies - helping keep schools on top of such a vital area.
Innovation and Technology Award
Founded in 2011, Big Bite provides digital solutions centred around the Wordpress platform - helping clients optimise the way they publish digital content and strengthen their brand. Big Bite’s team is constantly looking for ways to innovate its processes, and find unique solutions to fit a client’s specific needs. This has included launching content hubs for brands like Gumtree - or the development of two new plugins for the New York Post. Big Bite’s innovative and professional approach has helped it build a global reputation and grow its customer base significantly - leading to a 60% increase in turnover for its last financial year, and a consistent growth of its team even during the pandemic.
With more than 20 years of experience, PD Ports owns and operates Teesport - the UK’s fifth-largest port and a key figure in trade. PD Ports is dedicated to helping trade flourish through innovation - developing the Port Community System (PCS) in 2021, in partnership with the Port of Rotterdam. The PCS is designed to provide dynamic, real-time information - including live shipping movements and weather forecasting. The PCS had accrued more than 200 users in its first four weeks, across a variety of participants including terminals, towage providers and boatmen. In 2021 PD Ports also launched a website designed to showcase the river Tees - collating a wealth of information that has been used by river users, stakeholders and potential investors to understand the river’s operations better.
With clients in more than 100 countries, Exist Technologies plays a vital role in the safe transportation of hazardous goods. The business provides digital solutions to help maritime companies meet compliance and safety requirements - working with 90% of UK ferry operators, shippers and more. Exis is always working to innovate and improve the accuracy of its work - developing new solutions in the process. The business produced Hazcheck Detect, a real-time cargo screening tool that can identify misdeclared and undeclared dangerous goods - screening more than 500,000 items each day, and preventing around 50,000 high risk containers from being shipped each week. Exis is also working on a standardised industry library of terms and rules, to ensure a consistency of cargo appraisal across different businesses.
Company of the Year
With its head office in Stockton-on-Tees, Cleveland Containers has more than a decade of experience in the manufacture and supply of shipping containers. A family-owned business, it currently operates out of 15 depots across the country, and ships more than 300 containers each week. In 2021 Cleveland Containers also began providing businesses with site accommodation units - such as canteens, offices, toilet blocks and more. The business has continued to invest in itself, and spur growth over the last decade. It has achieved a customer growth of 53% since 2020, increased its employee count by 29% over the last year - and hit a turnover of £60m for the financial year ending February 2022, compared to a turnover of £1m in 2011.
Great North Air Ambulance Service
The Great North Air Ambulance Service is a charity dedicated to providing ill and injured people with the care they need. With two helicopters covering an 8000 square mile area, the organisation has attended to more than 23,500 incidents in its 20 year history. During the pandemic, funding for the air ambulance service was severely impacted - yet it continued to provide its vital services, responding to 1,620 incidents in 2021 alone. It also added two new helicopters to its fleet - improving its response capacity and the quality of care and treatment that it is able to offer. In the years to come, Great North Air Ambulance aims to expand its operations further - hoping to provide a 24/7 service, and expand its training programmes for external agencies.
Made For Trade
Founded in 1979, Made For Trade is an experienced and reliable manufacturer of aluminium roof lanterns, sliding and bi-folding doors. The business serves more than 2000 trade customers every year - hitting a turnover of £36m in 2021, up from a turnover of £2m in 2011. Made For Trade handles every part of the manufacturing process in house - so it can ensure that clients are receiving a quality product that is right for them. Operating from three purpose-built fabrication units, the business was able to produce a record 32,000 items in 2021 - delivering direct to building and trade sites. Made For Trade plans to expand even further in the coming years - preparing two new products for launch, investing in its machinery and working to become a more sustainable business.
Razorblue is a business that provides clients with a range of IT services designed to help them become more efficient and maximise their potential. Founded in 2006, the business offers clients IT, connectivity, cloud and cyber security solutions among others - working with more than 500 clients across the UK. Razorblue provides 24/7 end-to-end support, to ensure that clients are always able to get the help they need. This commitment to its clients has helped Razorblue see significant growth since it was founded - with a team of 140 people across 7 offices, it saw turnover increase 39% in the last year alone. The business also recently launched its own apprenticeship academy in partnership with local educational institutions - helping strengthen the region and investing in its future.