The #21toWatch Campaign and Awards

People, companies and the ‘things’ they create, across Cambridge and the East of England are setting the standards in innovation and entrepreneurship across the globe. #21toWatch is a dedicated campaign to showcase and highlight the maybe lesser known, recognising those exciting new entries across all market sectors, and celebrating the very best work going on today in the region. With such diversity and ingenuity amongst the #21toWatch cohort, the attributes each submission is assessed on are Innovation, Challenge, Influence, Viability and Memorability.

We collate a list of the people, the companies and the ‘things’ throughout the year – these are the key dates you need to know. The longlists are updated on a rolling basis, with a nomination window open between 1st November and 31st January each year, the shortlist is announced at the start of February, with the annual#21toWatch Top21 are unveiled in a unique event the first Thursday in March (please note the scheduled event for 5ht March has been postponed due to COVID-19).

In our inaugural year, many on our list (not just the Top21!) have gone on to achieve great things, including enhanced promotions, additional investment, new clients and a variety of other opportunities. Our sponsors and partners also view the cofinitive #21toWatch campaign as a key investment for them as they support new ventures and opportunities.

The Lists

The 21toWatch Lists

The annual list are divided into three categories – The People, The Companies, The ‘Things’. Click on the boxes below to see the 2020 cohort (entries closed 31st January 2020). Please note that these lists are updated regularly, and new entries are showcased across social media channels using #21toWatch.

As the shortlist is announced in February, those companies will be marked as such on the list, and after the awards ceremony, the winning #21toWatch will also be marked.

Meet the Candidates #21toWatch in focus

As part of the ongoing campaign we will be highlighting many of those on the longlist to share their work and help to raise their profile.

Here we are featuring Loubna Bouarfa CEO of OKRA Technologies. Hear her talk about she does and what being part of the #21toWatch campaign means to her.

To view the 2019 longlist, please follow this link.


Be or nominate the #21toWatch

If you would like to submit a person, company or ‘thing’ to the #21toWatch list, please complete this form and we’ll be in touch to confirm receipt and next steps.

Everyone who successfully qualifies for the longlist, shortlist, and Top21 will all receive a promotional icon to use in their own communications.
You can also email us at 21toWatch@cofinitive.com, and don’t forget to join the discussion via @Cofinitive #21toWatch

The deadline for the current cohort closed on January 31st 2020 – any submissions after this date will be considered for the 2021 listing.

Sponsors & Partners

Thank you to our sponsors and partners

We are proud to be supported by a range of sponsors and partners who share our ambition of showcasing the #21toWatch and the longlists that identify them.

Interested in Sponsoring?

Fill in the form to download our sponsor brochure here.


Our 2020 judges

All nominations to the annual longlist are then triaged down to a shortlist, assessed on five criteria – Innovation, Challenge, Influence, Viability and Memorability; as well as being financially assessed through the Companies House service and their investment status on Crunchbase.

A shortlist is then provided to an independent set of judges who will select the top seven from each of the three categories that will make up the #21toWatch Top21.2020

Each year the judges will rotate (2019 judges – Priya Guha, Merian Ventures; Bill Thompson, Technology Journalist; Dr Shima Barakat, Entrepreneur and academic; and Simon Mead, CW) to maintain diversity and inclusivity.

Our 2020 judges are:

  • Isabel Fox General Partner & Co-Founder Luminous Ventures188

    Isabel Fox

    General Partner Luminous Ventures

  • Bruno Cotta 188

    Bruno Cotta

    Executive Director Cambridge Judge Business School's Entrepreneurship Centre

  • Siddhi Trivedi 188

    Siddhi Trivedi

    Entrepreneur and multi-award-winning disruptor

  • TechEast - Tim Robinson 188

    Tim Robinson

    Chief Operating Officer Tech East


Interested in attending as a guest?

The longlist is available to anyone who wishes to view it – call it part of our pay-it-forward work to ensure those that qualify on the longlist achieve as much as exposure as possible.

The annual awards event in March* is a specially curated event, where attendees are hand-selected as those individuals that can help the #21toWatch achieve even more. As such the audience is a mix of investors, professional services, entrepreneurs, business executives and other relevant businesses. Our sponsors and partners are also able to attend and recommend other potential guests within their network. We welcome requests from the above companies to be added to the invite-only list once qualified.

However, we also believe in inclusivity so for each event we will allocate a number of tickets for those with a genuine interested outside of the above criteria.

If you would like to be considered, please email us at 21toWatch@cofinitive.com

*The 2020 date is currently on hold due to COVID-19