Edinburgh Napier University spinout company Celtic Renewables was recognised as the “Emerging Business of the Year” at this year’s Scottish Business Awards. The most outstanding companies and entrepreneurs from across the country were honoured at the star-studded awards ceremony, which featured Oscar winner and Hollywood icon George Clooney as the guest speaker.
Over 2,000 delegates attended what is believed to have set a record as the UK’s largest ever business dinner, which was held at the EICC in Edinburgh. The awards were hosted by TV comedian Rob Brydon and the guests were treated to more than an hour of storytelling from Hollywood legend George Clooney, who was interviewed on-stage by celebrity broadcaster (and new Top Gear presenter) Chris Evans.
The Scottish Business Awards recognises excellence in Scottish business and celebrates those who are building, and leading, successful, growing and dynamic businesses in Scotland. The Best Emerging Business Award honours Scotland’s best new and emerging businesses which are achieving success and have outstanding potential for growth. Celtic Renewables were awarded the accolade for an exceptional year in which they produced the world’s first ever samples of an advanced biofuel – biobutanol – from the production residues of the Scottish malt whisky industry, for which the company was also named the most innovative biotech SME in Europe at the Parliament in Brussels. The University startup company was the recent recipient of a grant of £11 million from the Department for Transport which it will use to co-finance a commercial scale demonstration facility at Grangemouth.
Company founder and President, Prof Martin Tangney, who is Director of the Biofuel Research Centre at Edinburgh Napier, and CEO Mark Simmers were presented with the coveted award by Britain’s greatest ever Olympian, 6 times gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy. Prof Tangney commented “It is an incredible honour for the company to be recognised with this prestigious award in the presence of so many exceptional people, such as Sir Chris, who have achieved so much in their lives. We are determined to prove ourselves worthy recipients of the award and to bring our innovation in sustainability to a commercial reality”.
The gala awards evening is a not-for-profit event, with100% of the event’s profits donated to charity. This years supported charities included “Not On Our Watch”, a charity set up by George Clooney together with other Hollywood stars Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, and the Scottish charity “Social Bite” - a food chain which donates 100 per cent of its profits to support the nation’s homeless and is partly staffed by formerly homeless. Mr Clooney created a local media scum when he took some time out of his schedule to visit the Social Bite Café in Edinburgh before the glamorous awards dinner. The gala evening included a charity fundraising auction, which featured prizes including lunch with Arnold Schwarzenegger and golf with former US President Bill Clinton, with the evening generating more than £1million for supported charities.
As well as being winners of the Emerging Business of the Year Award Celtic Renewables were also shortlisted as finalists in the Innovation of the Year Award. Company CEO, Mark Simmers, said; “This exceptional recognition reflects the hard work and dedication of the team at Celtic Renewables who are committed to growing this business and taking our place amongst the leading companies in Scotland”.