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Innovator of the Year

Call status: Closed
Next application deadline: 2015 TBC

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

The competition has three categories:

  • Commercial
  • Social
  • Most promising

It is designed to recognise the full breadth of impacts that BBSRC-funded research can have.

Winners in each category will receive a £15,000 award, with a further £15,000 for the overall winner.

The awards will be presented at a high-profile event in London on 31 March 2015 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 BBSRC-funded scientists, including:

  • Postgraduate and postdoctoral scientists funded by BBSRC through a studentship, fellowship or research grant
  • Principal investigators in universities who have been an applicant or co-applicant on a research grant funded by BBSRC or a BBSRC-funded fellowship
  • Scientists in institutes receiving strategic funding from BBSRC who, over the preceding five years, have received BBSRC funding through a core strategic grant, institute strategic programme grant, research grant or fellowship

For team entries, the majority of the team should meet the above entry requirements.

For all entries, applicants must demonstrate the connection between their BBSRC-funded research and the innovation.

"These awards recognise the impact of bioscience both on the economy and society, through driving innovation, training highly-skilled people, improving businesses and public services and attracting foreign investment."

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts (2010-2014)

How to nominate or apply


The call for nominations is closed.

Have you worked with a BBSRC-funded researcher who has stepped outside the lab to realise the potential of their research?

Nominate them, or a small team, using the 'Nomination form' (see application downloads below). Complete the form and email to the contact below by 27 October 2014.

Nominations are open. Please allow time for the nominees to prepare their application. Eligible BBSRC-funded researchers may also apply to the competition directly.


The call for applications is closed.

Applications should be submitted using the application form. This form and further information are available below in application downloads.

Submit your application via email to the contact below by 3 December 2014.

Application downloads

Application timeline

Nomination deadline 27 October 2014
Application deadline 3 December 2014
Proposals shortlisted 10 February 2015
Finalists: supplementary information deadline 24 February 2015
Judging interviews 31 March 2015
Award event 31 March 2015


An assessment panel will select the best applications under the following 3 categories:

  • Commercial innovator
  • Social innovator
  • Most promising innovator

Selected applications, which will progress to the competition final, will be required to submit supplementary information. They will be assessed by a separate judging panel who will choose the winners of each category. One of those winners will be the overall Innovator of the Year.

Previous awards: 2015

Copyright: The London Event Photography Company
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 3.25MB)

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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 2.75MB)

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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 1.57MB)

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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 (PDF 7.24MB)

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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 1.71MB)

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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 556KB)

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