Some of the region’s most innovative organisations have been acknowledged for their achievements at Keele University’s Breaking the Mould awards, part of the University’s commitment to developing an inclusive open innovation community in the region.
Breaking the Mould celebrates the successes of the hundreds of local businesses, not-for-profits, charities and entrepreneurs that have collaborated with Keele University to develop products, services and people that have had positive impacts not only locally, but across the country and beyond.
The awards culminated in an online ceremony hosted by award-winning TV presenter and Countryfile host Anita Rani and which featured performances from New York brasshouse group Too Many Zooz and Keele’s student Acapella Society. The awards themselves were designed exclusively for the event by artist Jessica McMillan and featured hand embroidery representing the essence of each award category.
The award categories were carefully curated to represent the wide-ranging collaboration opportunities available with Keele University. As well as covering key areas such as sustainability, social inclusion and the development of talented and employable students, this year’s awards also recognised the contribution that local organisations have made in the wake of the coronavirus in the form of a dedicated ‘Pandemic Response’ award.
The winners of the eight award categories were announced as follows:
• Focus Games – Health and Wellbeing Award, sponsored by Caja
• Laundry Efficiency – Sustainability Award, sponsored by ENGIE
• YMCA Crewe – Social Inclusion Award, sponsored by Synectics Solutions
• Mondrem – Cultivating Talent, sponsored by we are aspire
• Cobra Biologics – Keele University Science and Innovation Park Company of the Year
• Moneyshake – Leadership Award
• Realise – Pandemic Response Award, sponsored by ITS Test Kits
• Eureka Inventions – Collaboration of the Year Award, sponsored by Staffordshire County Council
Professor Trevor McMillan, Vice-Chancellor of Keele University, said:
The focus of Breaking the Mould is to celebrate the remarkable achievements of the businesses and graduate employers that we at Keele are proud to partner and work with, especially in what has been an unusually challenging and difficult time for all. 2020 has, more than ever, seen the need for transformation and innovation from all organisations. And the applications put forward for this year’s awards have highlighted the ways in which many of our local community have adapted in order to address not only their own changing circumstances, but also those of everyone around them. At Keele, we aim to support organisations by providing an environment that allows creativity to thrive, and we want to encourage a diverse business community across Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire and beyond. We encourage all people within our communities to have the confidence to access the support to help them to flourish, and to do so in socially and environmentally responsible ways.
All of the finalists for this year’s Breaking the Mould awards had demonstrated the positive impact that their relationship with Keele University had enabled them to deliver. But there was one organisation whose achievements in 2020 have the potential to impact the lives of billions of people worldwide.
Cobra Biologics, which has two facilities on Keele University’s Science and Innovation Park, is one of the manufacturing partners for AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford’s Covid-19 vaccine. The production agreement is part of a programme to ensure broad and equitable supply of the vaccine throughout the world, meaning that Cobra will be playing a significant role in the fight against the virus by being part of a manufacturing process that could see up to 3 billion doses produced by the end of 2021.
After being named as winner of the Science and Innovation Park award, Peter Coleman, Chief Executive of Cobra Biologics said:
I am incredibly proud of Cobra and everything we do. We’ve been doing what we do on the Keele campus for 30 years, and what we specialise in has been given a global profile this year. The recent clinical trials of the Covid-19 vaccine are an important moment, but I think everyone is happy with the positive news about all the vaccines. We’re in a situation where everyone just wants to get back to normal again, and we’re also working on an additional five promising follow-up vaccines that will hopefully enable us to do so. Thank you for the recognition, we really appreciate it.
The Collaboration of the Year category, which acknowledges the most productive University-Enterprise partnership, was also awarded to a health-related collaboration. Eureka Inventions have developed a novel device to count surgical swabs to avoid the risk of their retention during surgical or obstetric procedures.
Collaborating with Keele’s Business Bridge programme, the company now has a CE marked product which could prevent patient discomfort and could also save the NHS millions of pounds annually in repeat surgical procedures and litigation costs.
Accepting their award, Dr Aditi Desai from Eureka Inventions said:
We’re a group of clinicians who have worked in this area for 25 years, and it’s been a huge team effort to get to this point. It’s an innovation that Keele has really helped us to foster, and I’d like to thank the Keele ecosystem where innovation, academia, healthcare and business support flourish towards real-world solutions to make lives better. We’re absolutely delighted and very thankful for this award, which we dedicate to all the midwives, nurses, healthcare assistants and doctors who work tirelessly.
To find out more about the Breaking the Mould awards, please visit the University of Keele website.