Why should entrepreneurs consider applying for this award?

Firstly, this award is completely free to enter. The process is designed to be rigorous and thorough and to reward excellence without bias.

Secondly, winners will get a significant amount of exposure, both in The Spectator and in podcasts that we’ll be recording later this year.

Finally, there’s the opportunity to make connections and meet like-minded people. This applies to all entrants, not just to winners. Being an entrepreneur can be very lonely, but through this process, you’ll be put into contact with others facing the same problems as you, and you’ll have the chance to learn different ways to approach those problems.

Investec Wealth & Investment (UK) is part of Rathbones, so entrants can plug into networks like Rathbones Inspire for business leaders, to gain access to exclusive content, deep expertise, and networking opportunities.


What types of business should apply?

We’re looking at anything and everything. Last year, we had businesses from graphene manufacturing, to 3D-printed supplements to halal meat, to newts! We saw quite a lot of AI and sustainability-based businesses last year, and expect to see them again this year.


What does the judging process involve?

Step one is the submission, which is done through an online form on the Spectator website.

Step two is the initial round of judging, where we review how innovative these companies are. We look at growth potential, current and proposed financials, uniqueness and disruption, sustainability, purpose, and people.

Step three is, where shortlisted entrants will meet a judging panel at various lunches hosted across the UK. The Panel will consist of Spectator’s business editor Martin Vander Weyer,  myself, and Michelle White the Head of our Private Office, as well as a couple of notable external judges. We’ll have different external judges from region to region (there are six regions), but their role is always to provide judging from an entrepreneur’s perspective.

Finally, all the judges get together to discuss the attributes and merits of each finalist and to decide on the eventual winners.


Marc Wright of Investec Wealth & Investment (UK)'s Private Office
Marc Wright, Head of Entrepreneurs, Private Office

Each judge brings a different perspective. For me, the economics is as important as the innovation.



What are your recommendations for the initial submission?

Firstly, think about who’s reading it and ensure that a layman can understand it. If a judge who is not in your industry can’t understand your application, it can be hard for them to spot a success story.

Secondly, be as descriptive as possible, with respect to the problem you’re solving, the market you’re looking at, your financials, and your fundraising goals. If you want to do fundraising, put that front and centre because that’s something we can help you with. We know a huge amount of private equity partners and companies that can help in fundraising.


What makes an entrant stand out?

Businesses with the following attributes often leap out at the judges: 

  • commercialised their product or service, with year-on-year revenue growth and the potential to expand globally. 
  • added value to society, such as benefitting the environment, healthcare, or education. 
  • made a meaningful difference to people’s lives. 
  • have a management team with varied skills and broad experience. 
  • allowed key executives to build a meaningful stake in the business.
  • hold a competitive edge. 
  • a better product or service than anyone else. 

Each judge brings a different perspective. For me, the economics is as important as the innovation. We want to find companies that might be worth £10m, £100m or even £1bn in the future because there's such demand for this piece of innovation.

One of our winning companies last year signed a billion-dollar memorandum of understanding with a Middle Eastern country the day they won. It’s fantastic to see these genuinely world-changing ideas in judging.

But it’s not just an award for billion-dollar companies and unicorns. Last year we had a finalist that works with graphene. When I went to their lab it was unassuming and an outsider would have no idea that genuine, bleeding edge tech is being developed inside! 


The winners of the 2023 Economic Innovator of the Year Awards

Is there anything that previous winners have all had in common?

The thing that connects them is that they’re all true entrepreneurs, not just doing it for the money but to fix a problem. Every entrepreneur is different, but most don't do well at being told “no”. They push through things and turn a “no” into a “yes” – opportunity is everywhere and entrepreneurs are fantastic at ‘finding a way’.


What’s your involvement in the judging process?

I’ll be reviewing all the entries, reading every submission, and trying to understand the businesses from a growth perspective and an economic perspective. I’ll be involved at every stage of the process, from the backroom judging to the panel lunches where our finalists come and present to us and finally working with other judges to decide the eventual winners.


Do you continue to work with winners beyond the awards?

The team, and myself, remain in touch with many of the winners, and finalists offering support with their personal and business finances where we can. I’ll help with things like, how can we ensure that you’re being as efficient as possible with your money, or how can we structure your assets ahead of any exit?. If I know someone in a similar sector, I’ll connect them. We want to help where possible.


Why has Investec Wealth & Investment (UK) chosen to sponsor the Economic Innovator of the Year Award?

At Investec Wealth & Investment (UK), we believe that entrepreneurship is the driving force behind growth in the UK. We were dazzled by the entrepreneurial talent that applied in the previous two years and we’re waiting in anticipation to see what this year brings. 

We already work with entrepreneurs in various capacities and want to continue our support of the companies and entrepreneurs doing innovative things to change the world. We’re interested in people who are looking at the market and seeing something missing or something that can be fixed. We want to reward that.



Additional information

About the Economic Innovator of the Year Awards

Learn more about the Awards and which companies won in 2023. 

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