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The Real Innovation Awards

Nominations for the 2018 awards are now closed. We are in the process of shortlisting nominees in all six categories, named to reflect the ways in which we think innovative products and services really come into being, driven by inspired individuals, teams and organisations.

About the awards

We started the Real Innovation Awards in 2016. They were designed to highlight and celebrate the real, messy business of innovation – a process that’s a world away from what most people imagine it to be.

Innovation is the wellspring of change. Without a constant supply of clever, creative and fresh ways of doing things, the engine of economic progress would grind to a halt.

There are many innovation awards on offer, but they tend to describe a simplified, sanitised and inaccurate view of the process. Yes, whizzy new products and visionary leadership are important, but they aren’t the whole story: real innovation is messy, uncertain and serendipitous. And so the Real Innovation Awards were born – an award scheme designed to showcase the authentic, haphazard and exciting business of real innovation and to identify and celebrate those people and organisations who exemplify the way it really works.

Who made the shortlist in 2017?

The 2017 Judges’ Choice winners were announced at the awards ceremony at London Business School on 2 November. Find out who triumphed on the night and who got the most votes from the public.

What's in it for the winners?

Winners will be feted by LBS, with an exclusive awards presentation ceremony to be held at London Business School in November – plus appearances in LBS’s own journal the London Business School Review and website. Winners and shortlisted entries will be promoted online and through our social media feeds (#RealInnovationAwards).

Six reasons why you should enter:

1. Get the market recognition your innovations and vision deserve

2. Give your unsung heroes the chance to step into the limelight

3. Enhance your reputation with current and potential clients

4. Get greater European and British recognition for your global brand

5. Join esteemed previous winners such as Deliveroo, DubSmash, OYO and Hire Space

6. Enjoy extensive media coverage by London Business School


There are six categories in the Real Innovation Awards.

  • The If At First You Don’t Succeed Award celebrates learning through failure.
  • The Masters of Reinvention Award is for the individual or company that most successfully reinvented itself through cannibalising its existing business.
  • The Best Beats First Award is about taking an idea, running with it and becoming the leader.
  • The winner of the George Bernard Shaw Unreasonable Person Award is an individual who has shown ridiculous obstinacy to get their idea or product to succeed.
  • The Alexander Fleming Serendipity Award celebrates success sparked by an accidental discovery.
  • And because sometimes timing is everything, we give the Harnessing the Winds of Change Award to an individual or venture that grabs what’s coming round the corner and makes it their own.

Selection process

A shortlist of up to five entries is selected for each category. The shortlist is announced online in September when the judges meet to decide on the final winners and the public vote for the People’s Choice goes live.

Please see the full Terms and Conditions for further eligibility criteria and details of the process.

There are two selection processes running in parallel:

  • Judges’ choice: A panel of expert judges will pick the category winners from the shortlisted entries.

  • People’s choice: The public will be invited to vote for their favourite nominee using an online voting platform.


“Real innovation happens at every level of business”

Watch this short film to see what else our 2017 winners had to say on the night they were presented with their awards.


Innovation case studies

Read our case studies to discover what impressed us so much about these innovative companies that we gave them an award

Read More

Real Innovation Awards 2017: Judges' Choice winners

03 Nov 2017

Our judging panel has reached its verdict. Did our experts agree with the public?

Read now

Real Innovation Awards 2017 People's Choice winners

03 Oct 2017

The public has had its say. Which of this year’s shortlisted nominees earned the most votes?

Read now