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The region's be est businesses; 'The winners of this award fit into this industrial landscape very well indeed'.

Byline: Jenny Waddington Business editor jenny.waddington@coventrytelegraph.net

WHEN we first launched the Coventry Telegraph Business Award for Excellence, the aim was to seek out and honour hard working business people across the region.

In partnership with business advisers and chartered accountants Dafferns we set up a monthly accolade to celebrate those firms whose rich contribution to the business community went largely unrecognised.

But we could not have anticipated the wealth of entrepreneurial skill and world-beating expertise that has emerged as the scheme has progressed.

Dafferns' partner Richard Miller said: "Coventry and Warwickshire have always been in the forefront of innovation, from the ribbon and watchmaking, to the first bicycles and motorbikes and the advent of the motor car.

"The winners of this award fit into this industrial landscape very well indeed."

Here we take a look at some of the highlights of the past year.

Pixel Toys of Leamington is a relatively new start-up in the fast growing world of on-line gaming, but it proved it could punch way above its weight when it signed a deal with Nintendo to develop its 3D game, Super Little Acorns for use on the gaming giant's platform.

Pixel was formed little more than a year ago by games industry veterans Andy Wafer and Alex Zoro, who quit their jobs with established companies to take on the new challenge.

Andy's avowed intention is to move the business further into developing games for mobile phones and other hand-held devices, and says the business is about to launch a new game - Gun-finger - specifically for that market.

Another winner of our prestigious award was ITP of Rugby. This remarkable firm is literally helping China to 'reach for the skies' by providing sophisticated measuring equipment used in the Chinese satellite launch programme.

As well as being an intricate precision instrument, the measuring equipment comes in at a massive 7.3 metres in height - as tall as the average house.

It needs to be that big in order to accommodate a six metre satellite, according to the firm's founder and managing director, Dick Turpin. ITP has carved out something of a niche for itself in highly-specialised areas of industry.

Hard on the heels of the Chinese space deal it announced contracts in the USA and India. The company's customer base includes famous auto industry names like Bentley, Aston Martin, Tata, Kia, Hyundai and MacLaren.

Mr Miller said: "ITP is in on the ground floor of something big. China is already a major global player in a number of key industrial sectors, and the country is merely stretching its muscles."

Exilica of Coventry, based in Coventry University's Puma Centre, aims to make life a little sweeter for us all by tackling an age-old problem - the pong from public loos.

Working alongside Birmingham-based Barkley Plastics, and the fragrance firm Seven Scent, Exilica has developed a polymer floor tile with an in-built perfume which is designed to be long lasting. It also incorporates an anti-bacterial agent for improved hygiene.

The announcement of the ground-breaking product created a minor sensation on the internet, attracting attention from as far afield as India and the USA.

Daniel Lynch, Exilica's academic-turned-entrepreneur who is now the firm's technical director said at the time: "It's been good to be able to work with local companies like Barkley's to create something so unique. "We have carried out searches on the internet, but as far as we can tell there is no-one else out there doing what we have done."

Although Exilica has no immediate plans to enter the export market its products have attracted attention from overseas, even as far as Japan, which extended an invitation to the company to exhibit at a major technology fair in Tokyo.

ParentPay of Coventry also proved a winner. Any parent who has spent time scrabbling through pockets and purses for their child's dinner money will have cause to thank ParentPay's on-line payment system which is currently being used by more than 3,000 schools across the UK.

In many cases, those using the system are also protecting their offspring from the attentions of playground bullies who demand that their victims hand over any cash they have in their pockets. ParentPay calculates that its system, which permits parents to pay for school meals, afterschool clubs, as well as school outings and other activities, handles more than PS350million a year.

Chief executive Clint Wilson said that in the previous 12 months the number of schools using ParentPay's system had increased by more than a thousand.

The rapid growth triggered the firm's recent decision to expand in the city with the opening of a new 70 employee-strong software development centre at the University of Warwick Science Park's Business Innovation Centre in Binley.

There are also benefits to schools in using the system. Massive time savings can be made and admin work can be slashed by up to 80 per cent, releasing staff for education and child welfare. Mr Miller added: "Any-thing that makes life easier for parents, at the same time as helping combat playground bullying, deserves recognition."

And in the space of just 12 months, Key Forensic Services doubled in size and moved into larger premises on Warwick Science Park.

The company offers its services to a number of UK police forces and international law enforcement agencies, and also landed a prestigious role in the establishment of a PS5million national crime lab for Rwanda.

Managing director Paul Hackett said the company had grown at breath-taking speed over past seven years, with operations in Norwich and Warrington as well as Coventry.

The business received a welcome boost from the government's decision to close its own forensic service and outsource the work instead.

Key's share of this work meant the firm needed to recruit more than 100 people to handle the load.

CAPTION(S):

(Above) Richard Miller presents the award to Key Forensic Services' Paul Hackett and Brian Thomas and (right) to Daniel Lynch of Exilica. (Below) The award also went to ParentPay's Clint Wilson

Pixel Toys' CEO Andy Wafer and Alex Zoro receive the award from Richard Miller of Dafferns and (below) Jay Balcombe and Dick Turpin of ITP Group with Martin Gibbs of Dafferns and Sue Langford, commercial director, ITP Group
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 17, 2014
Words:1039
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