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Businesses come out in support of showcase initiative across the region

With the award presentation fast approaching, the ecosystem in Cambridge and across the East of England are rallying in support of the #21toWatch campaign.

We initiated the #21toWatch programme in 2018 to raise the visibility of some of the up and coming people, companies and ‘things’ across our region. From the inaugural event in 2019 the list of nominations across all sectors has grown throughout the year, and with it has come the increase in support of sponsors and partners – the latest we are proud to announce, is HSBC alongside our host partner, Arm. Here is why our sponsors choose to support the campaign and awards.

Maria Peyman, Legal Director at Birketts LLP said: “We are delighted to once again sponsor cofinitive in support of their #21toWatch initiative. Supporting our local business community is at the heart of what we do at Birketts. We recognise that small business success is essential to growing our economy and to creating new opportunities for all. Recognising innovation and supporting our diverse and creative entrepreneurs at events like this throws the spotlight on them; which can help to attract investment and get the right business advice so they can thrive and develop in this tough economic climate. After all, these innovations are solving the issues and challenges of our future.”

PwC are also proud to again support #21toWatch as it supplements their ongoing commitment, as Business Development Manager John Dow explained “At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. Our Cambridge team works across artificial intelligence, life sciences and AgriTech industry sectors with businesses in the region, so sponsorship gives is a unique insight into all these sectors, whilst maintain our commitment to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services.”



As new entrants are showcased on the list, the campaign also encourages engagement from those who have something to offer the Top 21. Foresight Group’s Senior Investment Manager, Matt McLoughlin said “Foresight is one of the most active private equity houses in the UK, and recently launched the £100 million Foresight East of England Fund targeting equity investments of up to £5 million for SMEs in the region and beyond. We are delighted to be supporting #21toWatch which celebrates many of the most exciting future opportunities being created in the region.”

Founder of cofinitive, Faye Holland says “What started as an initiative to help elevate many of the lesser known exciting new companies and individuals in the ecosystem, has turned into a highly respected activity and we are truly honoured to receive such support from our sponsors and partners.”


Another new supporter for 2020 is Price Bailey who have been operating across the region for over 50 years. “Price Bailey is committed to supporting the community and businesses of East Anglia” said Chand Chudasama, Partner in the Strategic Corporate Finance team. “We see our sponsorship of the #21toWatch campaign as a great way to support this aim. Campaigns like this help to highlight the achievements and innovation in the region and we relish playing our part in how businesses grow. We are excited to be working with Faye and the team and see which people, companies and ‘things’ grow across Cambridge and the East of England.”

Observers of #21toWatch will have seen a great demonstration of the region’s ecosystem in action. By convening the individuals and companies at the sharp end of innovation, with the investors, entrepreneurs, professional services companies, service providers and support networks, the campaign is a great demonstration of how businesses can galvanise to help our homegrown companies excel. Speaking of the 2019 cohort, Faye explained “The outcome we were seeking was to facilitate those vital collisions that would propel opportunities forward. So far, we have had companies receive new levels of funding, interest from clients and targets, partnership opportunities and so on – not bad for the first year.” She continued “Many have also found new mentors and some have engaged board directors and that’s as a result of the campaign enabling the right conditions for people to come together.”


This approach was one of the reasons why Faye McDonough, Principal at BOOST&Co Cambridge chose to be involved. She told us “Supporting innovation and entrepreneurship is at the heart of everything BOOST&Co does, so we’re delighted to sponsor this year’s cofinitive #21toWatch Awards. We’re passionate about working with local companies and proud of our connection with Cambridge, so this is a great opportunity for us to support the business community and its brightest new stars.” Boost&Co have written a blog post on their involvement in the #21toWatch campaign which you can read here.


As reported earlier this month Cambridge represents well over half of all the entries to date on the #21toWatch longlist so it is almost a no-brainer that Cambridge Judge Business School would also choose to be involved. Executive Director of the Entrepreneurship Centre, Bruno Cotta said “We are delighted to be sponsoring this year’s #21toWatch. Identifying and supporting the next generation of promising innovators and entrepreneurs is central to our mission at the Entrepreneurship Centre and this initiative from cofinitive is a perfect opportunity to do just that. I look forward to seeing these talented people recognised for pursuing their new business ventures in Cambridge and beyond.”

Whilst celebrating the vibrancy of the Cambridge market, Gemma Dorling, project manager of #21toWatch was keen to mention that it is important to recognise that the campaign is across the whole of the East of England – from Hertfordshire to Norfolk, up to Peterborough and down to Essex. It is therefore exciitng to note that we have engaged other partners across the entire region including Tech East, Invest Essex, Tech Nation, Engage East and the Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor.

Linn Clabburn, programme director of the Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting this celebration of the diverse and innovative tech community we have here in East Anglia. At the Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor we’re committed to helping our companies reach their full potential, and #21toWatch provides a fantastic platform to shine a spotlight on their work, as well as promoting the region as a top-tier destination for the best businesses and tech talent from around the world.” She continued, “It’s great to see so many names from Cambridge, Norfolk and Suffolk on the longlist and we look forward to discovering who is chosen for the final 21.”

Other returners from 2019 include Invested Investor, Penningtons Manches Cooper, Impact Women’s Network, The Bradfield Centre and St John’s Innovation Centre. Cambridge Independent also return as media partner for the campaign, as a natural extension of the cofinitive sponsorship of their Science and Technology Awards.

Nominations close at midnight on Friday 31st January 2020 and can be submitted via the form on www.cofinitive.com/21toWatch. There are three categories – People, Companies and ‘Things’ from which the final #21toWatch (seven from each category) will be selected by an independent judging panel and announced at a bespoke event on Thursday 5th March 2020.