10th anniversary of the BEEAs: A decade of excellence – 2013

Written by: Tom Austin-Morgan | Published:

The British Engineering Excellence Awards were launched in 2009 to champion and celebrate design innovation and excellence. Since then, the BEEAs has grown, as has the number of companies entering to win the foremost engineering accolade for design.

The BEEAs has been highlighting the breadth and depth of the UK’s design engineering community and how it is competing on a global stage for the last 10 years. Winners of the Grand Prix, the best-of-the-best of each year, have ranged from individual engineers doing outstanding work both in their industries and communities, to small companies with staff numbers in the single-digits, to larger OEMs.

Each year, hundreds of entries are debated and analysed by a judging panel of industry experts, which includes the winners of the previous year’s Grand Prix and Design Engineer of the Year Awards.

RS Components has been a sponsor of the event since 2009. Mike Bray, VP of DesignSpark said: “Celebrating excellence in engineering is crucial in the quest to educate and inspire aspiring engineers. The BEEAs play an important part in this, and as passionate ambassadors for innovation and excellence in engineering, we are proud to be supporting the young design engineer category each year. The objective of the BEEAs is closely aligned with our own ethos to promote STEM uptake and champion innovation, and to secure the future of engineering in the UK.”

In retrospect

This is the fifth in a series of features looking back at the past winners of these awards and seeing how winning has affected them and their business.

The fifth British Engineering Excellence Awards ceremony took place at a gala luncheon on 24 October 2013 at 8 Northumberland Avenue in Central London.

Where are they now?

To win Start Up of the Year, a company must cover a lot of ground in a very short space of time. Mere innovation isn’t enough, and neither is potential. The company must demonstrate successful commercialisation of its products, too. Versarien, the winner in 2013, ticked all those boxes.

Versarien produces advanced materials that have game changing impact on various sectors. VersarienCu, its bio-inspired, high performance thermal interface material, has an open cell micro-porous structure that has the capacity to radically change how thermal management is executed in modern electronic designs, as it is an order of magnitude more effective at transferring heat energy than conventional micro-channel heatsink solutions of equivalent size.

The company’s management team identified in its business plan the possible advantages of acquiring complementary businesses – envisaging that a substantial step in growth could be achieved, while being careful of the potential drain on cash. As such, since 2013, the company has acquired Total Carbide for £2.3million, 2-D Tech Ltd for £5.5m, AAC Cyroma for around £1.4m, and Gnanomat for £2.6m.

The winner of the Grand Prix at the BEEAs is selected from the winners of each category. But how do you compare an Electronic Product with a Young Engineer; a Design Team with a Start Up and so on? It’s a difficult task, as the Judges find out every year.

2013 was the first time the Judges agreed unanimously on the winner of the Grand Prix. They said: “It is absolutely no insult to the other competitors to say he was head and shoulders above them – he was that good.”

Sebastien Cuvelier Mussalian (Pictured right), also the winner of Design Engineer of the Year, has built an international reputation for the design, development and industrialisation of innovative, robust medical devices. As well as many major roles on other projects, he was lead engineer on the OrganOx perfusion system, which keeps donor human livers ‘alive’ before being transplanted, which won Team Consulting Consultancy of the Year in 2012.

He says: “It was totally unexpected. Engineers tend to work in the shadows even if projects are successful, that’s especially true in the medical sector. For other people to relate to the role of an engineer can be quite difficult, but I think that’s changing and engineers are becoming cool with the rise of the maker movement and YouTube making engineering more accessible.

“It felt great because we as a team worked so hard, so many weekends, because we knew we were doing something that would make a difference.”

It was also Mussalian’s contributions to the design profession, in particular working on a variety of community projects with schoolchildren and young engineers, looking to give them the skills needed to think through future challenges, that impressed the Judges.

“When you get an award like that and you feel recognised you feel like you can do anything. Winning gave me the confidence to start my own business.” Mussalian founded his own consultancy, Pix Medical, in 2014 that produces connected app and device technologies for the medical industry.

We will be covering the 2014 Awards in the June issue. Entries for the ‘10th anniversary’ awards will open soon, so why not visit www.beeas.co.uk to pick up some top tips on entering your submissions.

2013 winners

Grand Prix
Sponsored by: Findlay Media
Winner: Sebastien Cuvelier Mussalian, Senior Engineering Consultant, Team Consulting

Consultancy of the Year
Sponsored by: Eureka
Winner: Bytesnap Design

Small company of the Year
Sponsored by: D Young & Co LLP
Winner: Oxford Digital

Start Up of the Year
Sponsored by: Cambridge Consultants
Winner: Versarien

Design Team of the Year
Sponsored by: Anglia
Winner: Zytronic
Highly commended: Land Instruments International

Green Product of the Year
Sponsored by: national instruments
Winner: Nampak Plastics

Materials Innovation of the Year
Sponsored by: engineering materials
Winner:Sensor Coating Systems
Highly commended: Versarien

Electronic Product of the Year

Sponsored by: Digi-Key
Winner:ftdi chip, ft800

Mechanical Product of the Year
Sponsored by: igus (uk)
Winner: Fugro Seacore

Young Design Engineer of the Year
Sponsored by: RS Components
Winner:Jack Bolton, Selex ES
Highly commended: Rosie Linehan, Surrey Satellite and Adam Malpass, Dialog Semiconductor

Design Engineer of the Year
Sponsored by: Mouser Electronics
Winner: Sebastien Cuvelier Mussalian, Team Consulting

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