Royal recognition for region's finest

THE East of England has claimed 20 out of a record total of nearly 200 Queen's Awards for Enterprise announced today. More than 1,000 firms nationally applied this year for the awards, which are made annually on April 21 to mark HM The Queen's birthday in recognition of outstanding achievement in the areas of International Trade, Innovation and Sustainable Development.

THE East of England has claimed 20 out of a record total of nearly 200 Queen's Awards for Enterprise announced today.

More than 1,000 firms nationally applied this year for the awards, which are made annually on April 21 to mark HM The Queen's birthday in recognition of outstanding achievement in the areas of International Trade, Innovation and Sustainable Development.

A total of 18 businesses in the East of England are among those honoured in the 2009 awards, including two double winners. The national total of 194 awards is the highest in the 44 years of the scheme, beating the previous record of 175 set in 1990.

Among the regional winners is ThorpeGlen Ltd, based at BT's Adastral Park at Martlesham Heath, near Ipswich, which is honoured in the International Trade category for its export sales success with software for government law enforcement agencies.

The company was originally a telecoms fraud analysis research team inside BT's research and development facility at Adastral Park before it became part of Azure Solutions, a spin-out from the BT Brightstar corporate “incubator” unit.

While part of Azure, a homeland security product was also developed, providing for the surveillance of electronic communications, aimed at the prevention of serious crime such as terrorism or illegal drugs trading.

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In 2006 ThorpeGlen became a stand-alone company through a management buy-out backed by Create Partners, offering solutions cover the collection and analysis of all forms of electronic communications traffic, including email, internet and VoIP (internet-based phone calls).

ThorpeGlen - which has a workforce of nine, mostly still based at Adastral Park - wins the Queen's Award for trebling its exports over a three year period to total value of more than �8million.

Following the Bali terrorist bombings, the company successfully bid to install its solution in South East Asia, and then developed further contracts in its main markets in the Asia-Pacific area. Business was then developed in Europe, allowing the company to invest significantly in developing its technology further which is expected to result in significant further growth in other markets worldwide.

Dave Woods, chief executive of ThorpeGlen, said: “The Queen's Award is a great honour, a fabulous achievement and a credit to the people who helped form and work in the business.

“It is a mark of recognition and has been achieved only through the combined efforts and commitment of the entire ThorpeGlen team, both here in the UK and overseas. We hope this milestone provides additional impetus to drive the business to further success both in our current regions and the new regions we are targeting.”

Boyd Mulvey, chief executive at Create Partners, said: “The team should be very proud to have their significant achievements recognised by the Queen.” And Phil Dance, senior BT manager at Adastral Park, added: “This award is a fantastic achievement by ThorpeGlen and a shining example of a company thriving in the community of businesses at Adastral Park.”

While ThorpeGlen is Suffolk's only winner in the awards this year, there are three recipients from north and mid-Essex, including a double winner in Plextek Ltd from Great Chesterford.

Plextek, which employs just over 100 people, designs and supplies services for complex communications systems and devices, for users including technology start-ups, government bodies and major engineering groups.

The company receives a Queen's Award in the International Trade category for nearly trebling exports over three years to total of �48million, with major customers including US-based LoJack Corp, a leader in stolen vehicle recovery, through which Plextek has displaced Motorola as sole supplier of their in-car units.

It also receives an award in the Innovation category for its continues development of communication systems, including wireless networks, Ultra Narrow Band (UNB) radio devices and novel radar technology.

Products include a low power transmitter system enabling communications between military vehicles in convoys, with minimum risk of enemy detection, designed for the Ministry of Defence.

Another winner from north-west Essex is CHR Travel Ltd, a small tour operator based in Saffron Walden, which provides all inclusive tourist services for overseas tour operators bringing clients to the UK.

The company, which has a workforce of 11, receives a Queen's Award in the International Trade category after increasing its export earnings more than five-fold over the last six years, with its main markets being India, China, the United States, Israel and Russia.

Computer re-use and recycling company R D Trading of Witham, which trades as RDC, receives a Queen's Award in the Sustainable Development category

The company, which employs 175 people, is praised in its citation for providing “an exemplar benchmark for commercially successful, sustainable business operations” and for “demonstrating best practice in terms of both its core business activity and the sustainable management of its operations”.

Norfolk picks up three awards, all in the Internation Trade category, with its winners including Syne qua non Ltd, which employs 107 people in Diss in the provision of clinical data management and bio-statistical services to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

The it has doubled its exports over three years, with its main markets including Switzerland, the United States and Denmark, and with other sales, indirectly, to Japan.

Norfolk's other winners are Aquaterra Energy Ltd and PPI Engineering Ltd, both based in Norwich.

Nationally, the line-up of Queen's Awards winners this year includes household names such as BBC Worldwide Ltd, transport firm Arriva plc and fashion company Paul Smith Ltd.

HRH The Duke of York, the UK's Special Representative for International Trade and Investment, said: “I'm delighted to see so many companies applying for, and winning, The Queen's Award for Enterprise this year. Over the years, I've visited many Queen's Award winning firms, and have seen first hand just what a boost this award brings to their business and their employees.”