LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards 2020
The people, businesses and organisations behind the brightest ideas and best new technologies in Britain have been honoured at the second annual LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards.
Among the winners were the creators of a school book – impregnated with seeds that children can plant – an exhibition design agency which works all over the world and a Leicester company that designs a product to keep household goods smelling fresh.
They were all honoured at a night of celebration at the Morningside Arena, home of the Leicester Riders basketball team. The headline guest speaker was space industry entrepreneur and pioneer, former president of Virgin Galactic, Will Whitehorn, while poet Jamie Thrasivoulou gave a rousing reading of his poem “Heart of the Midlands”.
The overall innovation of the year award went to Previsico – picked by the judges because of the important role it has the potential to play in so many people’s lives. It seemed apt that in the midst of the current levels of unprecedented rain that have affected so many parts of the UK, the award should go to a business set up to help people prepare for flooding. Based in Loughborough, its FloodMap Live technology can give risk predictions right down to street level, and has been praised by local authorities, insurance companies and even humanitarian organisations.
A lifetime achievement award went to Les Zellan, the chairman of Leicester based Cooke Optics, for his contribution to Hollywood, Bollywood and beyond. The lighting specialist turned camera and lens distributor bought the business after visiting its Leicester factory in 1981 – realising its future could be just as significant as its past.
He was convinced Cooke’s lenses held more promise than they were being credited for, and raised the money to take the company over. Its lenses – which have been championed by such great directors as Ridley Scott, Martin Scorsese and Ron Howard – were first made in 1894.
Such has been their success that the “Cooke Look” has become a trademarked term – summing up the warm colours, sharp images and lack of harshness which are so sought after by film-makers all across the world. It has even won an Oscar for its technology. Such is the success of the innovation within Cooke Optics, and its reputation around the world, that two years ago an investment company took an 89 per cent share in the business, in a deal which valued Cooke at almost £100 million.
Summing up the awards, LeicestershireLive editor George Oliver said “The businesses and universities of Leicester and Leicestershire are leading the way when it comes to science and innovation. “In a world where technology plays a huge part in pretty much everything that we do, it seems only right to recognise that with these awards.”