Real Innovation Awards 2017: People's Choice winners

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

Peoples Choice winners image

The 2017 Real Innovation Awards (RIA) People’s Choice winners can finally be revealed after weeks of online voting by the public. The winners, chosen from a shortlist of 27 nominees in six categories, are:

The Harnessing the Winds of Change Award – for those who spot what's round the corner just soon enough to take advantage of it – Paul Villiger, Villiger Entsorgungssysteme. Villiger saw the need for more efficient urban waste disposal and was quick to develop fully integrated waste solutions, including underground storage facilities and automated collection trucks.

The Alexander Fleming Serendipity Award – for a company that has capitalised on an accidental discovery – Hire Space. The company started out trying to help austerity-hit community halls gain extra income, but soon morphed into the UK’s go-to venue sourcing platform.

The George Bernard Shaw Unreasonable Person Award – for an individual who has showed enormous tenacity and stubbornness in pursuing an idea against the odds – Sanjeev Gupta, Liberty House. Building on a bold “green steel” plan, Gupta is revitalising the manufacturing of several metals that appeared doomed, including acquiring large chunk of Tata’s UK steel businesses.

The Best Beats First Award – for an organisation that moved fast to dominate an emerging market category – CREATE Fertility. The IVF provider has innovated to maximise the chances of conception through natural techniques that claim to be friendlier to the body, safer and more affordable than traditional methods.

The Masters of Reinvention Award – for the company that most successfully reinvented itself in the face of disruption to its business model – CaratLane. The brand has changed the traditional jewellery business model entirely to offer its products more widely.

The If At First You Don't Succeed Award – for an individual or organisation who tried something that didn't work out, but provided the stepping-stone for eventual success – Ritesh Agarwal, OYO. Agarwal originally founded a budget accommodation listings platform, before realising there was a greater demand for curated guest experiences and pivoting its business model.

Our expert judging panel has selected its own category winners from these shortlisted entries: their verdicts will be announced at the RIA ceremony at London Business School (LBS) on 2 November. The People’s Choice vote is a separate process that runs in parallel during the month of September.

Julian Birkinshaw, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at LBS and one of the Real Innovation Awards judges, said, "There were many terrific nominations for this year's Real Innovation Awards. Lots of companies in the digital space, of course, because that is where the opportunities seem greatest. But some of the most interesting stories were actually nothing to do with digital technology. A highlight for me was the enormous popularity of the George Bernard Shaw Unreasonable Person Award, where we saw a head-to-head battle in the People's Choice. I am gratified that the notion of being unreasonable is such a positive thing!"

Innovation is fundamental to long-term success in business, but awards are often skewed in favour of visionary leaders or cool new products. The Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurshipat LBS, in partnership with Management Today established the RIA in 2016 to celebrate the messy truth of the innovation process and inspire others to innovate.  Real innovation is haphazard and often requires luck and a willingness to fail. It needs stubborn, persistent, even slightly irrational people who are prepared to challenge the existing order. And it needs good timing – some great ideas come along before the market is ready for them, while others arrive too late.

Congratulations to all six People’s Choice winners! Watch this space to see if the judges agree on which nominees have most impressively demonstrated their powers of innovation.