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Queen’s Award for Innovation: Sweet Success

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Assessors, Innovation, Judges, Lord-Lieutenants, Recipients

Simply Doughnuts received its Queen’s Award for Innovation on the basis of its efforts to develop products with an exceptionally long shelf-life. Our unique manufacturing processes produce foods that stay fresh for much longer than competing products, extending shelf-lives from 2 days to between 27 and 30 days.

This longevity greatly reduces waste – not only in terms of the food itself but also in terms of packaging, energy and road miles. This UK-developed technology therefore makes an important contribution to sustainable development goals such as reducing global food waste.

Business overview

Simply Doughnuts was founded in Blackburn by our managing director Shiraz Master. With years of experience in the garage forecourt sector, he knew that retailers were under pressure to sell fast-moving bakery produce. They generally bought in frozen goods, which required on-site freezers and needed to be thawed before being displayed on shelves. Shiraz recognised that a fresh, long-life alternative could help to keep shelves stocked without all the costs, space and effort associated with freezing and thawing.

He therefore set about building a company that would focus on premium quality doughnuts. In 2012, he began an intensive period of R&D that led ultimately to the processes and recipes that won us our award for innovation. The Simply Doughnuts brand has grown quickly and our products are now old by major retailers including Tesco, One Stop, Iceland and more. The company employs 36 staff and we’re growing steadily.

Why did we apply for a Queen’s Award for Enterprise?

We serve very demanding retail clients, including well known supermarkets and, as a relatively new brand, we felt that we needed a recognised stamp of credibility; something to really distinguish us and draw more attention to what we do. We felt that nothing would achieve this so effectively as a Queen’s Award and so we submitted an application for the 2019 Awards. That first attempt was unsuccessful, but the Award Team’s feedback was invaluable. It encouraged us to reapply and showed us what we needed to demonstrate in order to have a good chance of winning. This we did, and we are (of course) delighted with the result.

What has winning the award meant to us?

Winning a Queen’s Award for Enterprise has been fantastic. It is a really prestigious accolade and it certainly causes people to sit up and take notice. Our Award for Innovation has done exactly what we’d hoped: it has given us more recognition; it has raised our market profile and it’s opened up new doors. Importantly, it has also been a great boost for our staff; it’s helped to show that all their efforts really have helped to create something remarkable.

Advice for future Queen’s Award applicants

A Queen’s Award is a great business asset so if you feel you have something genuinely distinctive to offer, then it is certainly worth making the effort to apply.

The entry process is rigorous, so you’ll need to devote time to it and you’ll probably need input from various members of your team. The application demands a lot of detail; it is clearly designed to give the Awards Team a proper insight into your operations, your achievements and what makes your business truly different. There is plenty of guidance and it’s important to follow it all, without ‘ducking’ any awkward questions.

Tenacity is important, too. Our 2019 entry was unsuccessful, but the feedback showed us exactly why. By addressing those omissions and updating our entry, we made a successful application the following year.

Lastly, focus on the facts. It might be tempting to write your application as though it were a sales document, but the entry process is very much about detail and reality. Think about what is really being asked and make your answers as clear and factual as possible.

Evita Dambrauska

New Product Development Manager, Simply Doughnuts Limited

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