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Innovator of the Year

Copyright: BBSRC

Call status: Closed
Previous call: 16 November 2016 – 15 February 2017

This competition recognises and rewards individuals and small teams who have harnessed the potential of their excellent research.

The competition has four award categories:

  • Commercial Impact
  • Social Impact
  • International Impact
  • Early Career Impact

It is designed to recognise the full breadth of impacts that BBSRC investments in research have, from creation of spinout companies, to working in collaboration with business, to social enterprise and NGOs, to working with policy makers, both in the UK and abroad.

Winners in each category will receive a £10,000 award, with a further £10,000 for the overall winner, the BBSRC Innovator of the Year.

The awards will be presented at a high-profile event in London on 24 May 2017 in front of an invited audience of leading figures from the worlds of investment, industry, government, charity and academia.


The competition is open to all researchers funded by BBSRC within the past six years, including:

  • PhD students and postdoctoral researchers funded by BBSRC through studentships, fellowships or research grants
  • Principal investigators or co-investigators on a research grant funded by BBSRC
  • Holders of any BBSRC-funded fellowship
  • Researchers in institutes receiving strategic funding from BBSRC

For team entries, at least half of the team should meet the above entry requirements. Where there are non-eligible individuals who have played a significant part in helping deliver impact, their role in assisting the eligible individual(s) should be made clear in the application.

For all entries, applicants must demonstrate the connection between their BBSRC-funded research and the impact generated or expected.

How to nominate or apply

This call is closed to applications.

  • Do you know a BBSRC-funded researcher who is passionate about the impact of his/her research?
  • Do you have a great story to tell about your own research impact?
  • Maybe you have worked with a researcher who has stepped outside the lab to help realise the impact of their research?

Before nominating or applying please read our Terms of use: Key Survey.

Nominate or apply for Innovator of the Year 2017

Nominate an individual, partnership, or small team; or apply directly.

You can choose to nominate anonymously, or provide the applicant with your name. We welcome nominations at any time up until a week before the application deadline.

Eligible BBSRC-funded researchers may apply to the competition directly via the above link.

Links to the online application form will be distributed upon receipt of the above form. Nominations make no difference in the assessment of the application – we simply find that it helps encourage applications.

If you are unable to use the online forms, please contact us via email (see below) with your nomination or for an electronic document version of the application form.

Application downloads (for reference only)

Innovator of the Year 2017 – guidance notes (PDF 72KB)

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Innovator of the Year 2017 – frequently asked questions (PDF 59KB)

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Assessment panel

Dr Belinda Clarke (Chair) – Agri-Tech East & BBSRC Council
Dr Keith Binding – Independent
Professor Tom Brown – University of Oxford
Professor Joanna Chataway – University of Sussex
Dr Jonathan Clarke – John Innes Centre
Professor Curtis Dobson – The University of Manchester
Dr David Hughes – Syngenta
Dr Sandra Knapp – Natural History Museum
Dr Fiona Marston – Absynth Biologics Ltd
Dr Lawrence McGinty – Independent
Dr Sue Sundstrom – University of Bristol
Dr Caroline Woodside – University of Glasgow


Application deadline 15 February 2017
Proposals shortlisted 27 March 2017
Finalist interviews 23 and/or 24 May 2017
Award event 24 May 2017

Previous awards: 2016

Copyright: BBSRC
Professor Tom Brown

Overall winner: Professor Tom Brown
Commercial innovator: Professor Tom Brown
Social innovator: Dr Barrie Rooney
Most promising innovator: Dr Martin Pule

Professor Brown said: "I’m amazingly proud to have been chosen for this award given the remarkable array of innovators who were finalists – I was particularly impressed by the global nature of some of the innovations up for the award. It has been BBSRC’s long term and consistent support which has allowed the science to flourish that has led to my innovation."

Fostering Innovation 2016 (PDF 7.45MB)

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Previous awards: 2015

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Professor Ian Givens

Overall winner: Professor Ian Givens
Commercial innovator: Professor Andrew Hopkins
Social innovator: Professor Ian Givens
Most promising innovator: Travis Bayer

Professor Givens said: "I am honoured and very surprised to be named the BBSRC Innovator of the Year. Innovation is at the heart of research at Reading, and I am lucky enough to work in one of the best possible research environments of its kind. Much of my research in this area has been supported by BBSRC DRINC which is an excellent model for integrating research with industry."

Innovator of the Year 2015 (PDF 741KB)

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Previous awards: 2014

Luke Alphey
Professor Luke Alphey

Overall winner: Professor Luke Alphey
Commercial innovator: Dr Curtis Dobson
Social innovator: Professor Luke Alphey
Most promising innovator: Professor Cathie Martin and Dr Eugenio Butelli

Professor Luke Alphey said: "It is such a great honour to win Innovator of the Year – particularly when there is such stiff competition. Tonight really showcases how innovations from UK bioscience are tackling such a huge range of challenges."

Fostering Innovation 2014 (PDF 2.55MB)

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Previous awards: 2013

Dr Ryan Donnelly
Dr Ryan Donnelly

Overall winner: Dr Ryan Donnelly
Commercial innovator: Dr Anna Hine
Social innovator: Dr Simon Gubbins, Professor Peter Mertens, Dr Carrie Batten
Most promising innovator: Dr Ryan Donnelly

Dr Donnelly said: "I'm delighted and very surprised. I knew for a contest like this there was going to be very strong competition. To win something like this at such an early stage of my career, well it's the highlight of my career, it really is."

Fostering Innovation 2013 (PDF 2.60MB)

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Previous awards: 2012

George Lomonossof
Professor George Lomonossoff

Overall winner: Professor George Lomonossoff
Commercial innovator: Professor Jim Murray
Social innovator: Professor Russell Foster
Most promising innovator: Professor George Lomonossoff

Professor Lomonossoff expressed his delight at winning, saying: "You want to hope but you don't dare. It's a big surprise; rather like winning an Oscar."

Innovator of the Year 2012 (PDF 1.48MB)

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Previous awards: 2011

Jason Swedlow
Professor Jason Swedlow

Overall winner: Professor Jason Swedlow
Commercial innovator: Professor Chris Lowe
Social innovator: Professor Jason Swedlow
Most promising innovator: Professor Keith Waldron

Professor Swedlow said: "It is a great honour to accept this award. The support we have received from BBSRC, as well as the Wellcome Trust, during the early stages of the research has been invaluable. Our vision has always been to create a global standard for imaging software and the community that has grown up around the open source development is extraordinary. In reality I am receiving this award on behalf of a large group of extremely talented people who share a common commitment to innovation through team work, collaboration and the process of creating something new and exciting as a community."

Bioscience for Growth 2011, pages 1-25 (PDF 3.92MB)

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Bioscience for Growth 2011, pages 26-47 (PDF 3.89MB)

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Previous awards: 2010

Shankar Balasubramanian
Professor Shankar Balasubramanian

Overall winner: Professor Shankar Balasubramanian
Commercial innovator: Professor Shankar Balasubramanian
Social innovator: Professor Dave Goulson
Most promising innovator: Dr Michael McArthur

Professor Balasubramanian said: "I am delighted to accept the award of BBSRC Innovator of the Year and I do so on behalf of many people who have made important contributions at many stages of the Solexa project. I would particularly like to acknowledge my departmental colleague, Prof David Klenerman, who I co-founded Solexa with in 1998.

"None of this would have happened without the support of BBSRC. Their backing was essential for the blue skies research that gave rise to our original inventions. The continued funding of fundamental science by BBSRC will be an essential part of future enterprises and ultimately, wealth creation."

Innovator of the Year 2010 (PDF 1.72MB)

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Previous awards: 2009

Professor Steven Jackson
Professor Stephen Jackson

Winner: Professor Stephen Jackson
Runner-up: Dr Luke Alphey
Runner-up: Professor Jeff Errington

Professor Jackson said: "It's a tremendous honour to receive this prestigious award. It really reflects that science, like that funded by BBSRC in my group over the years can yield both exciting science and commercial and social applications. I think this award is a showcase for how funding of science by BBSRC is able to provide major tangible benefits not only the UK science base but also the biotech and pharmaceutical industries."

Innovator of the Year 2009 (PDF 567KB)

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Related calls: innovation people