Enterprise wins honours

Ian Barkshire of Oxford Instruments Nanoanalysis

Chris Francis of Meech

Kevin Finn of Autologic Diagnostics

The Aurox team

First published in Wantage/Grove Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by , Business Editor. Call me on 01865 425460

OXFORDSHIRE firms are flying the flag for British industry after picking up nine Queen’s Awards for Enterprise. From tiny hi-tech microscope manufacturers to a business which distributes magnets for medical applications around the world, every firm has been proven to be the best in its field after picking up the honour which is seen as the pinnacle of achievement in UK business. The awards are made each year by the Queen on her birthday, April 21. Andrew Smith and Maggie Hartford spoke to the winners...

Siemens MR Magnet Technology, Eynsham: Siemens MR Magnet Technology, of Wharf Road, Eynsham, receives an innovation award for its high-strength magnets, which go into cheaper, lighter magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners for hospitals. It is the company’s seventh Queen’s Award.

Managing director Craig Marshall, pictured, said: “In business it is a question of innovate or die, so I wish to personally thank every member of the team for their contribution to this award – each one has played a part in making this possible.”

The company has more than 400 staff in Eynsham.

Oxford Instruments NanoAnalysis: Oxford Instruments receives an innovation award for developing an X-ray detector to measure an object 1,000 times finer than a human hair, a process used by police forces to detect gunshot residue during investigations.

It is the 13th award for the group, based in Tubney Woods, near Abingdon. The award was for subsidiary Oxford Instruments NanoAnalysis, in High Wycombe, which employs 200 staff led by director Dr Ian Barkshire, pictured.

Marketing manager Neil Kirtley said: “We are an innovation-driven company and winning again is testament to that.

“We are a booming company that Oxford can be proud of.”

MEECH INTERNATIONAL WITNEY: Meech International, which employs 35 people in Range Road, Witney, supplies hi-tech systems to control static electricity.

It receives the international trade award for the second year running. Export sales have grown by 63 per cent since 2008.

Chief executive Chris Francis, pictured, said: “This is testament to the hard work and dedication of our staff, as well as continuous product development.

“We invest year on year in research and development to ensure we can supply products that meet the needs of our export markets.”

Meech employs 35 staff.

Autologic Diagnostics Wheatley: Car electronics firm Autologic Diagnostics, in Wheatley, which receives the international trade award, has enjoyed export success in the past three years Chairman Kevin Finn, right, said: “This is a great honour. The past three years have seen immense growth – we have expanded into new sales territories and emerging markets such as China, India and Eastern Europe, developed market-leading software advances and continued to increase staffing levels.”

Earlier this year the firm underwent a £46m management buy-out.

Autologic employs 95 workers.

ELECTROCOMPONENTS OXFORD: Electronics distributor Electrocomponents, based at Oxford Business Park, receives the international trade award after export sales grew from £474.9m to £825.9m over the past five years.

Chief executive Ian Mason said: “This tremendous accolade reflects the hard work of our employees to continuously achieve growth overseas, and instills great pride throughout our organisation.”

Electrocomponents, which trades as RS Components, supplies a range of 550,000 electronic products to 1.6 million customers around the world. The firm employs 90 staff at its headquarters in Alec Issigonis Way.

AUROX, CULHAM: An Innovation award goes to Oxford University spin-out Aurox, which makes 3D microscope equipment for medical researchers.

Production manager David Rushmer, who assembles the SD62 systems with three colleagues at Culham Science Park, said: “To be recognised in this way is a great achievement for our small team.”

Mr Rushmer is pictured, front, with colleagues Nicolas Perney, left, and Kenny Eggleton. The Culham team assembles up to 10 microscopes each month which are smaller than conventional systems.

Turnover has quadrupled in just two years to more than £1m.

Mr Rushmer added: “Until our equipment was developed, the microscope would probably be shared in one research lab, rather than each researcher having their own.”

OXFORD ROYAlE ACADEMY: Oxford Royale Academy, which runs summer courses in English and other academic subjects, wins an international trade award for growing student enrolments.

It was founded in 2005 by brothers William, left, and George Humphreys, who were then in their early 20s.

William, now 30, said: “I think we are very fortunate to have been chosen.”

The firm, based at the Punt House at St Catherine’s College, employs 29 staff.

It has now expanded to offer courses for students in Cambrdige, as well as Oxford.

PROF RUSSELL SMITH: entrepreneur Prof Russell Smith, a visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University, is one of 11 individuals to earn an award for Enterprise Promotion.

He runs Chinnor company Business Boffins, which supports people who want to start their own businesses, and has also set up the Hamilton Project to help ex-service personnel, and a programme for disabled people and carers.

Prof Smith said: “The award reflects the diversity of projects we have been involved with.

“It has been tremendous to work together with people who would not otherwise have thought of enterprise as a career option.”

Business Boffins has a team of five staff at its office at Chinnor Hill and is working in conjunction with universities in each of the nine Regional Development Agency areas in England to create a national business support and education programme, leading to certificates in small business management.

ONELAN DIGITAL SIGNAGE, HENLEY: Onelan receives the international trade award, after seeing exports soar by 395 per cent in the past three years.

The success has come after an overseas sale drive for its multi-media players and advertising screens.

It employs 21 staff at its Newtown Road headquarters.

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