Richard Kirk of PolyPhotonix, who gained the accolade at an awards ceremony held at the Hilton Hotel, Gateshead, last week, will be invited to MADE: The Entrepreneur Festival 2015 in Sheffield in October to compete for the BQ National Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year title.
Richard Kirk is chief executive of PolyPhotonix which he founded in 2009 and is based at CPI in Sedgefield. It has two divisions, one develops treatments for macular eye disease among other medical applications and the other is focused on developing process solutions for manufacturing organic electronic devices in large volumes. Its phototherapy eye mask, which is worn during sleep, uses light therapy to treat diabetic retinopathy and will save the NHS more than £1bn a year.
He said: "It’s not only a great delight to have won the North East BQ Emerging Entrepreneur award, it’s a great recognition of the strength and calibre of the PolyPhotonix team and the innovation.’’
Fifteen years ago he was an artist living in Paris, with a successful career as a painter with a number of works in national collections. He moved to London where at a chance meeting in a Soho pub he was shown a small piece of electroluminescent material, which illuminated when powered by a battery.
He recalls: "Despite having no scientific experience I was intrigued and embarked on a journey that has culminated in the development of medical devices to treat some of the most common causes of blindness.’’
Shortlisted entrants were chosen on the basis of entrepreneurial character, business performance, business strategy, business impact, innovation and personal values. The three others on the North East shortlist were: Daniel Robson of Green Digit; Jamie Cooke and Ben Ridgway of iam-sold; and Yaqoob Ishaq of The Punjab Kitchen.
Last week’s event was hosted by Mark Easton, BBC home editor, and the guest speaker was Stephen Kee, managing director of Saks, the Darlington based national award-winning hair and beauty salon group.
Bryan Hoare, director of Room 501, which publishes BQ magazine, said: "Congratulations to Richard who was the worthy winner in an extremely strong field of contestants who bear testimony to the vibrant entrepreneurial culture we have in the North East. BQ magazine is all about profiling and encouraging entrepreneurs and we are delighted to be able to showcase them at the awards and to give Richard such an important national platform as the MADE festival, which has been described as a Glastonbury for business.’’
Judith Doyle, principal and chief executive at Gateshead College, which was headline sponsor and partner of the national dinner, said: "Supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial thinkers is at the core of our strategy at Gateshead College and we were delighted to be part of the BQ event.
"Recognising those individuals that are embracing their ideas with commitment and ambition and helping to create employment and economic prosperity is extremely important. At Gateshead College we are inspiring our students to leave college not only with the qualifications, skills and knowledge within their chosen fields, we also want them to possess the confidence, strong work ethic, personality and softer skills that can make a real difference to the businesses they develop or the organisations they go on to join."
Other sponsors on the evening included Irwin Mitchell, Quantum Law, Lloyd Newcastle BMW & Mini, Chromazone and U Name It Promotions.
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