New business and international recognition – why Tech Awards are game-changers

With the deadline for entries for the second Tees Tech Awards fast approaching, two of last year’s winners have reflected on their success at the inaugural awards – with one revealing it has directly helped them win new business.

Organised by Tees Business in association with DigitalCity and Middlesbrough Digital, the second annual Tees Tech Awards will again shine a light on the thriving digital sector across the Tees region.

The awards are planned to be one of the first post-lockdown events scheduled following the lifting of restrictions, taking place on the evening of Thursday, July 1, in Wynyard Hall’s Grand Marquee.

The deadline for entries is Thursday April 29.

“The PR on the back of the Tees Tech Awards was absolutely brilliant,” said Danielle Croce, MD of Stockton-based health and safety software business Intasite, who won the Tech Partnership trophy alongside Calm Digital.

“It’s been a game changer actually. We have definitely won clients due to the publicity, especially in the Tees Valley from people who may not have known about us.”

Danielle was taking part in the latest Tees Business Leaders online Q&A with Ian Cornwell, MD of Kraken IM, and Daniel Watson of co-sponsors Middlesbrough Digital.

Ian, whose Middlesbrough-based information management firm was winner of the SME of the Year Award, said it would be easy to dismiss the Tech Awards “as a load of northerners patting themselves on the back, but it’s so much more than that.”

But he revealed: “Kraken got so much recognition outside the Tees Valley for winning our award. It was great for business and people from all over the world – including Australia and America – were congratulating us, even though they probably have no concept where the Tees Valley is.

“For our clients, the fact that we are award winners means we are hitting certain standards. It was well worth entering.”

With the second awards also streamed live on YouTube, the audience reach promises to be huge and offers a fantastic opportunity for companies in the region to really showcase themselves – but they can’t do that unless they enter!

“Some companies are not sure whether to enter, but my advice is to just give it a go,” said Daniel. “It doesn’t take long to fill in the application form and it’s relatively straightforward for each category.

“You need to remember that these may be local awards but I’ve seen the traction and exposure on a national and international basis, so it comes down to the fact that you just don’t know what you’re going to get off the back of it. It’s certainly a great return on your hour-or-so’s investment.”

As well as increasing business opportunities, winning a Tees Tech Award is a free and effective morale booster.

“We are a fairly small team and winning the award gave us recognition for the hard work we put in,” said Danielle.

“When you run a business it’s hard to take a step back and recognise your achievements. You’re always worrying about the next thing you have to do. Writing the application down shows you just how far you have come in the last year and what you have achieved.”

Ian and the team at Kraken were over the moon with their award. “Covid had affected the business at a time when we were expecting huge growth,” said Ian.

“That growth was put on hold and then suddenly things started moving again, so winning the award was the cherry on the top and a great morale boost.”

Daniel has seen first-hand how much winning a Tees Tech Award means to people in all stages of their careers on Teesside.

“It was amazing to see Dom Lusardi become Tech Ambassador, to see how excited Chloe Clover from Wander Films was to get Rising Star and the team at Mabo to win Company of The Year. It gives people and businesses from across the board a huge lift, whether they have been established for ten or 20 years or are start-ups.”

As for rivalry, Daniel laughs: “There is a friendly rivalry, it’s fair to say. A lot of support but definitely a rivalry.

“That’s what makes the awards exciting – to see the moments of joy when one business wins over another, but there’s also a really great community which has built up around the awards and we are looking forward to welcoming entries from new businesses and to those who entered won or were shortlisted last year I’d say please enter again this year.”

• Tees Business Leaders is hosted by Tees Business in association with our partners PD Ports, statutory harbour authority for the River Tees, and owner of Teesport, one of the fastest-growing UK ports. PD Ports is also one of the largest employers in the Tees Valley and is now celebrating 20 years of supporting young people in the region through its apprenticeship programme.