What a Queen’s Award can do for your business

It’s the crowning glory, in more ways than one. The Queen’s Award for Enterprise is widely acknowledged as the highest official UK-based accolade for a British business.
It showcases outstanding achievements in the fields of either international trade, innovation, sustainable development or promoting opportunity through social mobility.
In 2021, just 17 of these awards were given to companies across the West Midlands, and here in Shropshire we have four of them – all from Telford.
Aviramp and Scanning Pens won for international trade, Reconomy was recognised for innovation, and Landau received its award for promoting opportunity.
In addition to their crystal trophy, and the undoubted kudos which carrying the award crest brings, the winners also get an invitation to a royal reception at Buckingham Palace, and can fly the Queen’s Award flag at their office and use the emblem on their products and marketing materials for five years.
Wellington-based charity Landau has provided supported employment and training services to a range of individuals for 25 years.
The charity – which received a royal visit not so many months ago from HRH Princess Anne – received its Queen’s Award for its range of employment and training programmes and for helping thousands of people to turn their lives around.
It supports 3,000 people a year across the region and beyond into jobs and training.
Chief executive Sonia Roberts said: “It is an absolute privilege for us to be recognised by Her Majesty for our achievements and is a testament to the outstanding work of every single Landau employee and volunteer.
“We are incredibly proud of the work we do and the opportunities we create for thousands of individuals that want to turn their lives around but don’t quite know where to start.
“All of our services are heavily focused around delivering individual interventions. This means we work very hard to get to know every person who walks through our doors so that we can understand their personal aspirations.
“We then develop a pathway to learning or employment, which builds on their existing skills and strengths, so that we can help them achieve their life-long goals.
“So, it is a huge privilege for us to have been recognised in this way and I would like to extend my congratulations to the entire team at Landau. Without doubt, it is their passion and drive that enables us to achieve so much.”
Landau now has training sites across the West Midlands and an online presence that spans the whole of England and Scotland.
Last year it became a nationally recognised Centre of Excellence for its IPS service and the work it does to help people with mental health conditions secure sustainable employment.
The service has also been recognised nationally by The RAND Corporation – an independent research organisation, which guides changes in public policy – and last year became the highest scoring RAND reviewed service in the UK.
Reconomy, the 2017 Shropshire Company of the Year, is based at Stafford Park in Telford and has experienced an unprecedented period of sustained growth during the last five years.
It is now firmly established as one of the UK’s leading providers of outsourced waste and resource management, recycling services and environmental compliance.
Emphasising its growth, the company claimed 47th spot in the most recent Sunday Times PwC Top Track 250 list – a leap of 150 places on the previous year.
Reconomy was recognised in the Queen’s Awards for its innovative business model which has transformed the management of housebuilding, construction, commercial and industrial waste in the UK.
It uses market-leading digital technology to manage waste more efficiently, transparently, safely, and with greater consideration to the environment and sustainability.

Taking off Graham Corfield founder and chief executive of Aviramp

The sector has long garnered a reputation for being antiquated and ‘analogue’ in its business practices, with very little consideration given to exploring new ways of working – but Reconomy has digitised the process of managing waste from end-to-end.
Chief executive Paul Cox said: “This is an incredible honour for everyone associated with Reconomy and a landmark day in the journey of our business.
“The Queen’s Award for Enterprise is the most prestigious, sought-after award that any UK business can receive and is an incredible testament to the hard work of all our people.
“The development and roll-out of new technology underpins every aspect of our business model, and this award acknowledges our continued commitment to innovative thinking.
“It demonstrates that we are not only at the forefront of the outsourced services industry, but are also a leading light across all sectors as we pursue our ambition to be the leading provider of technology-enabled services to drive the circular economy.”
Even in the weeks since receiving news of the Queen’s Award, Reconomy has been back on the acquisition trail, taking over another Shropshire-based business.
It now owns ReBOUND, a technology platform which supports retailers like ASOS, Gymshark, Missguided, JD Sports and Sweaty Betty to manage their returns sustainably in the wake of surging volumes.
Founded in 2014 by Graham Best and Phil Smith, ReBOUND works with these brands to understand what is being sent back to them and why, as well as providing a range of options on what to do with them.
It specialises in working with fashion brands to offset the environmental impact of packaging, shipping and processing returns, helping brands calculate the most carbon-efficient routes, eliminate wasted transport miles and recycle goods wherever possible.
For Aviramp, the Queen’s Award is the culmination of a 10-year journey for a company which has gone from early version prototypes drawn up on the back of a beer mat to a worldwide supplier.
Its celebrated range of aircraft passenger boarding ramps – a replacement for air-stairs – are now exported worldwide to the USA, South America, Australasia, the Far East, Africa, Europe and Scandinavia.
It was the particularly sharp growth in overseas trade over the past three years which helped the company to win its royal accolade.
Founder and chief executive Graham Corfield revealed he took a ‘huge risk’ and put his house on the line in those early years as he battled to finance the business, create working prototypes which he hoped would allow him to break into a very conservative industry.
Aviramp’s innovative design is now considered a disruptor in the aviation industry and a go-to solution in the ground handling sector. It improves passengers turnaround efficiencies and safety, while helping airports and airlines to reduce costs and deliver an all-inclusive passenger experience.
The system means airlines can offer unrestricted and easy boarding access for passengers with reduced mobility, or families with young children and babies, thanks to its unique all-weather non-slip ramp floors and gently sloping gradients.
“It’s a dignified process, which means the disabled passenger doesn’t have to be taken away from everyone else to be boarded on a basic catering truck, and can stay instead with their family,” Graham said.
“We had a great deal of help from EasyJet in the early years, who helped me to bring the idea to reality, and by 2016 things really started to gather momentum, and we gained a lot of international customers.”
Most recently, Graham and the team have introduced an element of solar power to make Aviramps more eco-friendly, and reduce the need for high lift trucks at airports.
“This prestigious award feels like a huge victory for the whole team; each plays a vital role in the business and are all passionate ambassadors of the brand,” he said.
The aviation industry, of course, has been crippled by the Covid-19 global pandemic, and Aviramp has felt the ripple effect.
But Graham said: “Things obviously went a lot quieter for us, but we are seeing the green shoots of recovery now.
“We are just starting to get inquiries back from the US and Japan, but it has also made us concentrate a bit more on the UK market, as 95% of our sales were previously overseas.”
Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for economy, David Wright, is among the company’s fans, saying: “Since supporting Aviramp back in 2019 with a Business Growth Programme Grant for £70,000 we have seen their business go from strength to strength with the need to employ seven new members of staff to enable their successful growth rate.”
Scanning Pens Limited, which brought in revenue of around £10 million last year, is based on the University of Wolverhampton’s Priorslee campus – and is another business which has built a global customer base.
The company was created in 2003 by Oxford Brookes university graduates Jack Churchill and Toby Sutton, and supplies text-to-speech devices to help people with literary difficulties such as dyslexia.
Chief executive Jack, who is himself dyslexic, has worked tirelessly for the past decade to establish the company at the heart of the global dyslexia community.
One of the company’s most popular innovations, the ExamReader pen, allows everyone to access questions on exam papers through a secure text-to-speech technology pen which is also being used across businesses, and in prisons.
Jack said: “We’ve been very fortunate in the past few years to have won a few awards, but to be recognised by the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise is the highest honour in business.
“Compared to some of the other winners we really are a minnow, but I think the fact that we’ve won gives other companies the belief that they could fill in the application too, and go for it.”
He added: “It has been a long haul for us, but we saw something in this technology – a very small, portable device which just runs over text and reads aloud to you.
“We knew there was something in supporting children and adults to read independently on their own, and not always be reliant on having an adult next to them.
“In the last six years we have worked with a Swedish partner and developed this new technology which has taken off, and has been approved for use in exams like GCSEs or A levels.”
He added: “During the fallow early years when we didn’t turn over much, we were testing and trying different things, and it has helped to hone our business to be very refined today.
“We now have 100 people working for us, in the UK and overseas, with bases in the US, Canada, Australia and India. The business has grown dramatically, and exporting has been a very important part of that.”

The four Shropshire winners came together at Oswestry’s own award-winning business, Aico, when it hosted the official launch of the 2022 Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the county.
The aim of the event was to celebrate the achievements of the 2021 winners, and encourage other Shropshire companies to follow in their footsteps.
Among the audience were representatives of Queen’s Award for Enterprise supporters such as the Marches LEP, Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, and the Federation of Small Businesses.
The Queen’s official representative in the county, Lord Lieutenant Anna Turner, was the VIP guest of honour.
She said: “Our county has a wealth of successful activity which deserves to be rewarded and brought to the attention of a wider audience.
“The awards and the QAE logo are recognised globally, and the royal seal of approval is a tremendous honour for any business or organisation to have.
“And regardless of whether you win an award, completing the application process is an excellent opportunity to scrutinise your business with a critical eye and focus on new ideas.”
She added: “Shropshire is perceived to be a rather sleepy, beautiful place, but we have so many top quality businesses that are working so hard. The diverse range of businesses spread right across our county is quite incredible.
“These winning businesses have all got one thing in common, and that is that they are doing exceptional things, which are promoting Shropshire.”
To be eligible for a Queen’s Award, a company must be based in the UK, have at least two full-time UK employees or part-time equivalents, and file its company tax returns with HMRC.
It must also be a self-contained enterprise that markets its own products or services under its own management, and demonstrate strong corporate social responsibility.

Fancy adding your company’s name to the Shropshire hall of fame? To enter, go to www.gov.uk/queens-awards-for-enterprise/how-to-apply, or see the website www.qaeshropshire.co.uk