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Prolific North Tech Awards judges share what makes a winning entry


The judging panel for the Prolific North Tech Awards – Early Bird entries for which close on August 13th – have shared their tips on what makes an excellent entry.

Entries are open now for the Tech Awards, which recognise top talent all across the region’s growing and thriving tech sector. Enter before the 13th to make the most of the Early Bird discount on administration fees.

The judging panel includes names from Tech Nation, UKBlackTech, The Tech Ladder, KodyPay, Bruntwood SciTech and many more. They will come together to pick the shortlist and ultimate winners, who will be revealed on October 21st at Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry.

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Judging is an independent, rigorous two-step process which will pick the finalists for each category – which encompass awards for innovations and projects, teams and businesses, and individuals. Nominations for the individual awards – Tech Entrepreneur of the Year and Tech Mentor of the Year – are free to make, and the winner will be decided by a combination of judges’ scoring and a public vote.

We’ve talked to a selection of the illustrious panel about what they’ll be looking out for when they come together to consider all the entries for the Tech Awards.

Enter the awards today to get a chance to have your work seen by a judging panel of industry leaders and experts.

Liz Scott, Head of Entrepreneur Engagement, Tech Nation

I genuinely enjoy judging awards with real credibility like the Prolific North Tech Awards. The level of competition is always fierce and it’s so important that applicants do themselves – and their story – justice. I know it sounds obvious but you’d be amazed at how many entries I’ve seen where there is very little detail given that actually addresses the questions being asked.

It can be tempting to copy and paste some generic marketing speak about you or your product, but it always shows. It’s always so much more effective when applicants take the time to answer the question that’s being asked – and make sure you answer them all!

My other top tip would be to make sure that you use every question as a chance to showcase a new element of what you’ve achieved. I’ve seen promising applicants get overly hung up on one element of company success or product accolade, for example, and repeat it in the answers to multiple – sometimes all – questions.

Use as many facets of your amazing story as possible throughout the application to really show us the breadth of your success.

And lastly, I’d recommend having someone outside of your immediate team read through the application to make sure it objectively sets out why you’re a winner. As judges, we’ve all got masses of experience but might not be deeply involved in either your vertical or enabling technology. Make sure you’re not caught up in overly technical jargon that makes sense to everyone inside of your organisation or vertical, but could be unfamiliar to a judge. We judge entries collectively so you want as many as possible fully understanding your entry. Best of luck!

Martin SFP Bryant, Founder, Big Revolution

While the work you’ve done and the results you’ve achieved are what wins you an award, communicating those achievements clearly to judges is vital to being in with a shot. It’s amazing how many entrants for awards have created great results but don’t take the time to persuade judges just how great the results really were.

A good entry persuades the judges by describing the impact your work has had. Why does what you’ve done stand out from your rivals? Why does it matter more? If you transformed your client’s business, or you generated real social impact with your work; if you broke new ground in your field or generated an incredible public reaction… these are some of the things that can turn a good entry into an excellent one.

Aim to leave the judges excited by your work after they read your entry and you’ll be in with a good chance of success. Awards are about more than just hype though, so make sure your entry is still backed up by solid evidence that supports your words. 

Chris Dymond, Co-founder and Director, Sheffield Digital

Product-wise, above all I’m looking for a really great idea, excellently executed across all the crucial dimensions: business model, brand, user experience, service offer, technology stack, and so on. Also, whether it’s successful already – what’s the trajectory? Has it found its market?

Then, I’m looking to see how the core offer has been extended, for instance to a different audience or with partnerships, and how the technology is being leveraged: What else are they doing with the data? Is there an API? Are they building a broader platform rather than just a single application?

The narrative is important as well – the origin story and how the team has been built. How has it worked together to achieve product market fit, have they pivoted, has the business model changed, how have the finances stacked up, what kind of funding have they received, and how have they used it?

I’m looking for products that are solid in all these areas, and have a good story to tell, and then I’m leaving some room at the top for things that really surprise me – the unexpected, beautiful, and transformative. I’m hoping to discover one or two of those, for sure!

Deb Hetherington, Head of Innovation, Bruntwood SciTech – Leeds

There is so much talent, leadership and innovation in the North, particularly in the digital tech sector, and these awards are a great opportunity to highlight that. I have had the honour of judging several awards within this space, and there are definitely submissions that stand out, for both good and bad reasons.

Submission word limits can be frustrating, but look at it as an opportunity to sum up the impact of your work, quickly. Strike a balance between statistics and narrative, and evidence the impact you have had on your sector. Outlining your results in a digestible and attractive way is a surefire way to get a judge’s attention.

Avoid copying and pasting from your website, pitch documents or PR material. Focus on Answering the question! The worst submissions are those that haven’t taken time to address the points required, and instead have shoe-horned existing material into the application.

Lastly, be bold and confident in portraying your successes. As Northerners we are almost predisposed to be modest and unassuming, but awards submissions are no place for modesty.

Phil Benson, Co-founder, UKBlackTech

My advice is to be authentic and tell your story and truths!

The best entrants will really connect beyond the surface and showcase what makes what they’ve achieved unique, special and differentiated.

We obviously want to hear about successes, but being authentic means where there has been adversity, we can understand how you have come out the other end to reach your stated goals.

Tech represents inspiration, transformation, innovation and collaboration – this should be reflected in the stories and journeys we hear from all the applicants.


To make a start on your entries, click to register for the awards portal – you can save and return to your submission at any time.

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