• George Oliver

Six myths about the Queen’s Award for Innovation

Updated: Oct 27, 2020

Eleven Leicestershire organisations have received the Queen’s Award for Innovation in the last decade. The county enjoyed vintage years in 2016 and 2017 as three innovative businesses took the prize each year. There remains plenty more opportunity for others to get a Royal seal of approval for their work. Think about what that might do for your promotional activity. Here, for example, is some of the coverage of Jackloc's award three years ago. So why are more businesses and not-for-profits with big ideas not entering?

I was recently speaking to Ian Borley, who chairs a committee established by Leicestershire's Lord Lieutenant Mike Kapur. The committee is tasked with promoting the awards to local organisations and encouraging them to apply. Committee members include various local business leaders who can help organisations complete nominations and review their forms. Innovation is the second most popular of four categories in the wider Queen's Awards for Enterprise*. Mike is now encouraging Leicestershire innovators to come forward so that the county gets the national recognition it deserves. After all, as events such as the LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards demonstrate, the county is rich in new ideas and enterprising organisations.

So what is stopping potential nominees? Ian and the panel find there are several common myths:

1. It’s only for large companies

It isn’t. 90% of the awards are made to SMEs. Ian and his team are looking to hear from organisations which have been established for a minimum of two years and which have seen commercial success through rapid sales growth. Companies should also be able to demonstrate a return on their original investment.

2. You need to be nominated

You don’t. If your organisation fits the bill you can contact the Lord Lieutenant’s Office and they will advise on what to do next. Alternatively, you can express an interest through the channels below. The committee will support suitable candidates with their application.

3. It is expensive to enter

It’s free.

4. It is an honour which is bestowed

It’s not. There is an application process. There were 665 applications for the 2020 awards, of which 220 were winners. But only one came from Leicestershire. Mike is now looking for more, saying: ‘It’s rare for me to come across a local organisation that knows about the Queens Award for Enterprise and yet we have some incredible businesses here.’

5. It takes too much time

While it does take a little time to complete the application, there is the chance of a big return on (time) investment. For winners, the awards are valid for five years. Previous winners have reported benefit from increased sales and sales enquiries, worldwide recognition, increased commercial value, better relationships with customers and suppliers, greater press coverage and a boost to staff morale.

6. Now isn’t the right time to apply

It is. The process is annual. The 2021 application process closed in September. But now is exactly the right juncture to give yourself time to start preparing a nomination for the next round. As Mike adds: ‘It’s time for Leicestershire to start to feel good about itself and for our  businesses to be properly rewarded for their great achievements by gaining the highest accolade in the UK and I’m committed to making this happen.’ 

So what are the benefits?

Firstly, you will be invited to attend a reception at Buckingham Palace. You will also be presented with the award and a crystal trophy from the Lord Lieutenant at your business premises. Furthermore, you will be entitled to use a royal emblem as you seek to differentiate from your competitors. This has been found to support the increase of sales and speed of growth. There are other benefits too - not least flying the Queen’s Award flag on your premises.

Which Leicestershire firms have won the Innovation Award?

Previous winners include: Newtons (2010); Zeeko (2011); DPD Group (2015); Comm Agility, Sublime Science, Winbro Group Technologies (all 2016); The Jackloc Company, MSA Engineering Services, Qdos Holdings (all 2017); Trunet (2019); EEC Performance Systems (2020).

How to apply

Any business wanting to know more should visit the Queen’s Awards website or contact the Lieutenancy Office for information and tips about the application process and eligibility criteria (Lieutenancyoffice@leics.gov.uk). The official details are here. Alternatively, you can learn more during this event, which is being held on 3 November 2020 as part of Leicester Business Festival. It will feature Mike, Ian and two local winners who will describe their own experience.

* the others are international trade, sustainable development and promoting opportunity through social mobility.

1284 director George Oliver and former Leicester deputy mayor Rory Palmer will be joined by guests including Professor Ivan Browne, Leicester’s Director of Public Health and FSB area lead Jenny Cross to discuss Build Back Better at an event for Leicester Business Festival. Free tickets for the event, hosted by 1284, are available via the festival’s website.

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