Companies flying the flag for regional excellence

THE need for companies to come up with bright new ideas is far greater when the competition gets tough.

THE need for companies to come up with bright new ideas is far greater when the competition gets tough.

And with the economy in decline there has rarely been a time when companies need to be more innovative.

So a lot of entries are expected for the Innovation Award at the North East’s biggest and best business awards this year.

Entries are flooding in to the nebusiness Awards, organised by The Journal and Evening Gazette with support from the North East Chamber of Commerce, before the closing date at the end of this week.

The North East has a tradition of innovation, from Victorian industrialists such as Lord Armstrong and inventors such as Joseph Swan to the leaders in digital technology and engineering who have succeeded in recent decades and the organisers have big hopes for this year’s entries.

Last year’s winner was County Durham firm Tekmar Energy and the judges’ faith was echoed by London investment company Elysian Capital which this year bought the firm.

The deal, understood to have been worth more than £20m, gives the company funds to realise its ambitious expansion targets which it says will see it double its 150-strong workforce.

The Newton Aycliffe-based manufacturer of cable protection systems, mainly for use by the offshore wind sector, was split from its parent oil and gas equipment Tekmar Group at the start of the year.

Tekmar Energy chief executive James Ritchie said: “We had fantastic growth opportunities that didn’t sit with the rest of the company. There are phenomenal growth opportunities.

“The industry has faced a challenge in dealing with sub-sea cable failure during operation and installation, an area we focused on to provide turnkey solutions in combating the issue.

“Key to our success was our dynamic ability to work with our customers and provide cost-effective solutions that work and are reliable in a fast-growing but often demanding and hostile sub-sea environment.

“This is a vision we share with our new investors.”

Tekmar Energy produces the patented Teklink product to protect sub-sea cabling running between offshore wind turbines and the land.

The business’s revenues stood at £7.7m last year – only its second year of trading. That was double the figure for 2009. The company is confident of showing similar growth this year.

Ken Terry, chief executive of Elysian Capital, said: “Tekmar Energy is a young British company at the forefront of a new industry critical to the future energy needs of the United Kingdom and a sector that is strongly supported by Europe-wide government environmental policy and incentives.

“We are excited by the worldwide potential for offshore wind farms. Elysian will be helping Tekmar’s management team to continue to support its customers in this fast-growing and dynamic market.”

The prize for innovation is just one of the 10 categories in the nebusiness Awards which sees hundreds of entries every year.

The wide range of award categories means there is something for everyone.

No matter how small or large your company, no matter which sector you operate in: if you’ve achieved something you’re proud of, there will be a category you can enter, with the best going through to compete for the prestigious title of North East Company of the Year.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer