Sheffield tech firm enters two categories in Vision 2021 Awards honouring businesses that led in the pandemic

A Sheffield tech firm has seized the chance to enter The Star’s Vision 2021 Awards – set up to honour the businesses and organisations that led the way through the pandemic.

By David Walsh
Thursday, 25th February 2021, 5:03 pm

Airship is one of the first in the contest, which has 12 categories to reflect the full breadth of innovation by Sheffield companies in a uniquely challenging year.

The firm, based at Park Hill flats, entered the ‘Best Lockdown Innovation’ and ‘Best Tech’ categories after using its expertise in two projects that supported the hospitality sector.

Last summer, it developed the ‘’ app in just six days ahead of pubs reopening after lockdown. It allows businesses to log visitors in an efficient, safe and GDPR-compliant way. To date 23m people have been recorded at 11,000 locations, while the firm has donated 20 per cent of revenue to industry charity Hospitality Action.

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Vision2021 Awards.

Airship also made its Toggle app free. The platform allows venues to set up web shops and sell merchandise and giftcards as a way to make money despite being closed.

Between March and May 2020, some 163 businesses signed-up and to date Togglers have generated £1m in sales. The move cost the firm £200,000 in fees.

Boss Dan Brookman said they had wanted to step up.

He added: “With the expertise to deliver a valuable and effective solution, sitting back and doing nothing was simply not an option.”

Dan Brookman boss of Airship.

‘Vision 2021’ aims to highlight those who, through their efforts and ideas, have improved lives, secured jobs and created a blueprint for post-Covid success.

Widespread working from home, shuttered shops, pubs and restaurants; booming online delivery services and a love of homegrown and independent businesses are all new.

Some firms were forced to change direction while others triggered long-held plans to survive. Sheffielders pulled together like never before. Now, it’s time to honour their achievements.

The winners will receive the kind of publicity only the region’s largest multi-media organisation can generate, with a five-minute video on your company, a feature online and in the newspaper, social media support, a podcast and invitations to a round table and audio visual seminar.

David Walsh, business editor.

The categories:

1. Best Work From Home Employer - For the company that has gone the extra mile to help staff forced to work from home. This could include emotional and mental health support, extra allowances, equipment, recognition or help with childcare and staff socials

2. Best Reinvention — Recognising firms that were forced to pivot – completely change direction - to survive and have made a success of it

3. Best Lockdown Innovation - Companies that have introduced new products or services, perhaps putting into action long-held ambitions, to remain viable

The contest was set up to celebrate those who led the way through the pandemic and met extraordinary challenges with extraordinary innovation.

4. Lockdown Launch - Celebrating the most successful start-up who launched despite - or perhaps because of - the most trying circumstances

5. Best Home Delivery Service - The company that helps keep independent and homegrown businesses in business. Delivering products, revenue and satisfaction with the best and easiest-to-use service

6. Business Champion - Providing services that have helped other businesses to survive, whether through direct advice, helping them to develop a new strategy, or signposting

7. Community Champion - The business or organisation that has had the most impact supporting charities and the wider community with donations, free products or expertise, innovations or hours worked

8. Best Tech - A new app or platform developed during the pandemic to help companies stay alive and thrive

9. Manufacturing Innovation - The best new product to combat Covid, be it a spray, mask, dispenser, ventilator or even software

10. Best Covid-Safe Office - The firm that has gone above and beyond installing, implementing and maintaining safety systems producing the happiest and most secure staff

11. Big Idea - The new project with the biggest potential impact on Sheffield, for the better

12. Best Property Conversion - The best, most ambitious, most impactful scheme that breathes new life into a beloved building and offers the most potential benefit to both occupiers and the city as it stages a recovery.

Nominated companies/people must be based in Sheffield. Entry to more than one category is permitted.

Email entries to: [email protected]

The Best Reinvention Award is sponsored by Future Life Wealth Management, one of the country’s top financial planning firms.

It has been listed in the New Model Advisor Top 100, a national list of the top financial planners, every year since 2013.

Based in Renishaw, it was established by Jillian Thomas in 2009 and today employs 11.

The Lockdown Launch Award is sponsored by Launchpad, a programme to inspire and support new entpreneurs in Sheffield City Region.

Launchpad has helped more than 7,000 people to transform their ideas into a commerical reality and has delivered nearly 70,000 hours of business support in workshops, one-to-one training and mentoring delivered by experienced business advisers based in the Sheffield City Region.

It is delivered by a consortium led by Barnsley Council, with Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster and Bassetlaw councils and The Prince’s Trust. Funding is provided by each partner and the European Regional Development Fund.

The Business Champion Award is sponsored by Finance for Enterprise, one of the most trusted and respected alternative lending providers in the North.

The company delivers the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme and Start Up Loans, helping new business owners access up to £25,000.

Over the past five years, FFE has provided £37m in loans, helping to create more than 1,400 jobs, safeguard 1,800 and boost the economy by more than £140m.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper.

Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.