Mainframe Awards 2021 Winners!

By Charlene Sharp & Hana York - The Mainframe Team

Preview-Mainframe-Awards-2021-4For the fourth year running, Mainframe highlighted Derby & Derbyshire's digital and creative community in style with another visually stunning hybrid Awards event, live-streamed from QUAD.

Despite the unpredictable times and recent challenges, the quality of all the submissions for this year's awards was testimony to the continued resilience and ingenuity of our region's creative people and businesses.

Individuals, start-ups, SME's, entrepreneurs and established businesses were among the thirty shortlisted to be in with the chance of winning across ten categories. Now in their fourth year, competition in each category of the awards has increased year on year. Those shortlisted in 2021 continue to demonstrate both the breadth and depth of digital and creative talent in our region.

Two of our categories which are particularly close to our hearts “Putting Derby/Derbyshire on the Map” and “Creativity for Good” gave this year's judges for these awards a real challenge. Katapult received the “Putting Derby/Derbyshire on the Map” award for their work on the alfresco dining experience in Derby Market Place and Sarah Bulmer from Derby Days Out received the “Creativity for Good” award amidst stiff competition from all those shortlisted.

“Best Digital/Creative Start Up” went to the think3 team whose agency has made a real impact on the local creative landscape in the last two years. At the other end of the business scale, the "Best Digital/Creative Upscaler" award was won by Bulkhead Interactive team recognising their rapid and continuing business growth. This years "Digital Disruptor" award went to Chathura Sudharshan from Chanodil for their innovative fashion supply chain work.

2021 saw a new category in the awards - "Best Local Network" created to recognise the important role communities play in the support and success of digital and creative businesses. The awards was won by Stephen Goddard & Philip Brooks-Stephenson of KuKu Connect who's business support over the pandemic has been invaluable to all involved.

Another hotly contested category, “Make & Trade” was awarded to Claire Zwozny-Bestwick from CRZyBest. Claire has been shortlisted for two years running and this year her persistence paid off with a win.

The "Digital/Creative Unsung Hero" category recognises a creative person who might not normally be in the spotlight but is a hugely valuable part of our community. This year saw Luke Smith recognised for his work with Treetops Hospice and their Light up a Life Ceremony. The “Emerging Digital Star (Under 25) was presented to Gaz Jones of think3, recongnising his part in this emerging agency.

The awards presentations concluded with John Whall Digital Participation Curator at QUAD, presenting the award for "Digital/Creative Ambassador of the Year 2021", passing on the baton as the 2020 winner. This is the only category awarded on public votes and this year's winner was Yvonne Gorman owner at Essential Print Services. Yvonne said;

“The Mainframe awards are a fantastic way of uniting the local creative community so I’m over the moon to have won this, particularly as it was voted for by the public. It’s been such a tough year for everyone and small businesses have faced so many challenges - I’m honored to be representing them.”

Adam Buss, CEO of QUAD, hosted the evening supported by Charlene Sharp and Hana York from Mainframe.  Adam said;

Preview-Mainframe-Awards-2021-8"The Mainframe Awards were established for two reasons – to celebrate the creative talent throughout our city and county and to let the world know how brilliant a place Derby and Derbyshire is. The awards this year once again shone alight on a diverse range of talents from sustainable fashion creators to leaders in the gaming world. Creativity has never been more important and the Mainframe community are primed to rise to any future challenges. As we move forward we must embrace the development of creativity from early years and continue supporting creativity in all its forms to help us as a society change, challenge and succeed".

Preview-Mainframe-Awards-2021-2Mainframe was thrilled to collaborate with The Swap Shop for a pre-awards business skills, services and stuff - live swapping event. Rachel Hayward of Ask the Chameleon, Lee Marples of think3 and Dean Jackson of HUUB brought all the fun of the original show to help kick off the evening with a bang.

We couldn't host the awards without the help and support of our wonderful judges. This year the Mainframe 2021 Awards were judged by :

  • Steve Noss, Head of Creative - Cooper Parry
  • Ruchita Shaikh, Executive Director - Artcore
  • Sam Barrett, Derbyshire Area Manager - Young Enterprise UK
  • Andrew Deighton, Director - AWD Development Solutions
  • Rachael McCormack, Director - Midlands Engine
  • Robbie Kerr, General Manager - Derby LIVE, Derby City Council
  • Roberta Beattie, Website Tech Champion - Digital Culture Network, Arts Council England
  • Robin Johnson, Press & PR Executive - Marketing Derby
  • Bev Crighton, Senior Lecturer - University of Derby

Steve Noss from Cooper Parry said:steve-noss-bio

“If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that creativity must be front and centre of our post-pandemic fightback. On the evidence of this year’s awesome Mainframe Awards, the DE postcodes are in great hands.”

Throughout the evening the audience was entertained by the musical talents of the always wonderful Will Pearson of Hot House Music. We also couldn't let this year pass without making mention of the technical aspects of bringing a complex, hybrid event to bear. Andrew Lindley from Lindley Productions said;

Preview-Mainframe-Awards-2021-5"During the technical design stage we wanted to create an online environment that made it feel like everyone was in the same space, all be it virtually. We also wanted to help the Mainframe team create a bigger and better event from the previous year, as engaging online audiences becomes increasingly challenging. We were able to integrate several platforms such as Zoom, YouTube and Vmix alongside the live hosts in QUAD’s cinema to create a proper event. High-quality pre-recorded video and beautifully designed visuals is what tied all the elements together.

Full list of winners:

  • Best Local Network: Stephen Goddard & Philip Brooks-Stephenson - KuKu Connect - Judges: Bev Crighton & Lily Smith (University of Derby)
  • Make & Trade: Claire Zwozny-Bestwick – CRZyBest - Judge: Robbie Kerr (Derby LIVE, Derby City Council)
  • Digital Disruptor: Chathura Sudharshan - Chanodil - Judge: Roberta Beattie (Digital Culture Network, Arts Council England)
  • Digital/Creative Unsung Hero: Luke Smith - Judge: Robin Johnson (Marketing Derby)
  • Best Digital/Creative Start Up: think3 - Judge: Andrew Deighton (AWD Development Solutions)
  • Emerging Digital/Creative Star (Under 25): Gaz Jones - think3 - Judge: Sam Barrett (Young Enterprise UK)
  • Digital/Creative Upscaler: Bulkhead Interactive - Judge: Rachael McCormack (Midlands Engine)
  • Creativity for Good: Sarah Bulmer - Derby Day's Out - Judge: Ruchita Shaikh (Artcore)
  • Putting Derby/Derbyshire on the Map:  Katapult for Market Place Derby - Judge: Steve Noss (Cooper Parry)
  • Digital/Creative Ambassador of the Year: Yvonne Gorman - Essential Print Services - Judge: Public Vote

Watch the 2021 Awards

Missed the big night? Want to watch the action again? See the night in full here!

Mainframe CHampions

Mainframe launched an exciting new initiative on the night looking to ensure their continued reach into all sectors of the regions diverse range of creative industries.

Mainframe Champions will represent their sector within Derby and Derbyshire with Mainframe helping to keep the Champions apprised of local and national news, policy and activity influencing the creative industries. In return the Champions will update their own sector and networks, ensuring a strong two-way dialogue on the issue of the day.



Could you be a Mainframe Champion? Apply now!

Apply To Be A Mainframe Champion

Thank You

A huge congratulations to this year's winners and as ever thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination - it's all of you who make these awards happen.

Mainframe has everything crossed for an in-person awards event in 2022 and after the challenges of  2020 & 2021 they hope it's going to be their biggest celebration to date!

Preview-Mainframe-Awards-2021-12Mainframe is an initiative that aims to bring together a community of digital and creative businesses across Derby and Derbyshire, enabling real business growth and jobs. Mainframe is part of The Big House project, a collaboration providing sector-specific support across the D2N2 area. The Big House aims to make it easier for digital creative business to understand and access the free help available in the region.

For more details about the free business support available to creative and digital businesses in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire through The Big House project, visit

This project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund 2014 - 2020