Real Innovation Awards Judging process

A shortlist of up to five individuals or organisations per category is selected from hundreds of nominations and two final awards are made: the Judges’ Choice and the People’s Choice. 

Selection process and judges 

There are two selection processes:

  • The Judges’ Choice. The Real Innovation Awards are judged by a panel of distinguished experts, who determine a winner in each category. The 2019 winners were announced at London Business School on 14 November 2019.

  • The People’s Choice. Voting for the People’s Choice runs in parallel to the selection of the Judges’ Choice, with the public voting for their favourite nominee throughout September using an online voting platform.

Please see the Terms and Conditions for full details of the judging process. 

Julian Birkinshaw



Julian Birkinshaw is Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and Deputy Dean at the London Business School, and Academic Director of the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and the Academy of Social Sciences.

Professor Birkinshaw has written fourteen books, including Becoming a Better Boss and Reinventing Management. His most recent book is called Fast/Forward: Make Your Company Fit for the Future..

His research focuses on how large companies can become more innovative and agile in today’s turbulent business environment.

He came 45th in the 2017 “Thinkers 50” ranking of the top global business thinkers.

Luis Cilimingras



Luis Cilimingras is an IDEO partner and London’s managing director. He leads global change programmes helping large organisations bring creativity to the core of their business, working with clients like Ford, Mars, and Peru-based Intercorp, where he built an innovation team that’s helping to transform the organisation by designing services based on the needs of the region’s emerging middle class. Before IDEO Luis led the global digital innovation team at Fiat, helped bring the iconic Fiat 500 to market, and launched the first mass-market connected car app.

Charlie Dawson

Charlie Dawson_1


Charlie Dawson is Partner at The Foundation.

He established The Foundation in 1999 and it has evolved into a consultancy helping clients solve their most difficult growth challenges by being more effectively customer-led.

To achieve this means bringing together skills usually found separately, in particular customer and business understanding. He was inspired by working on a new car company launch that did this by happy accident to great effect. The firm has long relationships with HSBC, Visa, M&S, O2 and the Volkswagen Group, and recent projects include helping Jaguar Land Rover keep more customers, helping Morrisons find ways to differentiate and compete strongly in future, and helping ebay get better at creating trust. 

He previously worked in advertising and has a first class degree in Manufacturing Engineering from Cambridge.

Sarah Wren



Sarah Wren MBE is CEO of Hertfordshire Independent Living Service (HILS), a social enterprise that provides home care to elderly and disabled people in Hertfordshire, and more recently in London, operating as LILS.

Having helped to establish the multi award-winning charity in 2007 as founder Chairman, Sarah became CEO in 2010. The business supports up to 2,000 people every day, through a number of services designed to help people stay independent, healthy, and happy at home.

As well as providing over half a million meals on wheels visits each year, HILS’ 240 team members provide nutritional screening; dietetic advice; home-based exercise support; telecare installation; dementia activities; and advocacy. HILS also supports people facing barriers to employment.

Before joining HILS, Sarah lectured on business and management degree programmes and was chair of several charities. Sarah was given an MBE in 2012 for services to the community sector. She was one of the 2016 Real Innovation Awards winners under the If At First You Don’t Succeed category.

Jeff Skinner - Secretary to the judging committee



Jeff Skinner is Executive Director of the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at LBS and leads on many entrepreneurship courses and student innovation initiatives at the School.

Before LBS, Jeff was Commercial Director at University College London where he co-founded more than 30 technology-based spin outs that collectively raised more than £30 million in first round capital.

Prior to this Jeff led technology commercialisation at Hoechst Celanese Photonics in New Jersey and was photonics research manager at General Electric.


He holds a PhD in thin film photonics from UCL and a MBA from LBS.

Rachel Bell - Entrepreneur


Rachel Bell’s journey in innovation has taken her from school leaver to recipient of the coveted Sunday Times Best Leader in 2012. The name of her multiple award-winning PR business, Shine, reflects a guiding vision of success: to be “fantastic” at everything she does. 


Under this mantra and Bell’s stewardship, Shine and its associated businesses today employ 200+ staff with a turnover in excess of £20m.


A long-standing board member of the Public Relations Consultancies Association, Bell is ranked 4th in the UK PR Power Book published by PR Week and is the highest ranking independent practitioner in her field.

Steve McGuirk


Steve McGuirk, CBE, QFSM, DL, MA BA (Hons), BSc, FIFireE

Chairman Warrington and Halton Hospitals Foundation Trust


Steve had a distinguished first career as a Chief Fire Officer and CEO in the Fire and Rescue sector between 1976 and 2015. He was President of the Chief Fire Officers Association from 2006 to 2008, and principal advisor to local government and the National Employers Association.


In recognition of his public work and his leadership managing highly complex, often tragic circumstances, Steve was awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal in 2002 and the CBE in 2005.


Steve embarked on a second, portfolio career in 2015, as Chairman of the Hospitals Foundation Trust and Chairman and Trustee of the Fire Research and Training Trust. He currently holds a key role as Expert Witness to the Grenfell Public Enquiry.


In 2016 he was named Master of Reinvention by London Business School.

Tim Hulse


Tim Hulse is an award-winning editor and journalist.

He is currently editor of Business Life, the magazine for British Airways business customers, and regularly chronicles the lives of the world’s makers, thinkers, doers and dreamers. He also creates content for a variety of clients, including The Economist Group and OgilvyOne, on behalf of leading technology companies such as Facebook, Intel, Samsung and Inmarsat. In the past he has worked for leading UK newspapers and newsstand magazines, and he once went on a date with Kylie Minogue.