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The Real Innovation Awards

Congratulations to our 2018 winners

Leadership and whizzy new products are just part of the story. Real innovation is messy, uncertain and serendipitous.

All of these qualities were on display in the stories behind the shortlisted firms of 2018, and eventual winners in both the People’s and Judges’ Choice categories. The Real Innovation Awards have been about the real, messy business of innovation since 2016 – celebrating 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. These awards identify and celebrate those people and organisations who exemplify the way it really works. The awards ceremony for 2018 may be over but real innovation never sleeps nominations for the 2019 shortlist will open in February.


What's in it for the winner? 

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).


Read about the past year's winners


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.The 2018 Judges’ Choice winners were will be announced at the awards ceremony at London Business School on 1 November 2018


  • People’s choice: During September the public is 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 2018 winners had to say on the night they were presented with their awards.


People's choice winners

Read about the Real Innovation Awards 2018 People' Choice Winners

Read More

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