Breaking the Mould shines a spotlight on the growing innovation-led organisations, businesses, not-for-profits and charities that have benefitted from the suite of innovative support programmes that are available from Keele University.

The awards celebrate Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire’s engaged collaborative community, and will culminate in an exciting online celebration of local enterprises that are the best in their field.

The 2020 Breaking the Mould Awards took place online on 2 December 2020 and were hosted by award-winning TV presenter Anita Rani.


Thank you to all of the sponsors of Breaking the Mould 2020:

Award design

We are delighted to reveal this year's Breaking the Mould awards - hand and free motion embroidered pieces that represent and symbolise each award category, designed exclusively for the event by Jessica McMillan

Jessica’s artwork focuses on the act of noticing the unnoticed, the mundane and the ordinary. Her practice aims to recognise the overlooked yet beautiful things in our world and re-present them in such a way, that shines new light and offers a new perspective of the once overlooked; this could be cultural, social or observational. She is 'breaking the mould' of how we see the world. She tries to innovate traditional media to bring a new life to her work for example finding new ways to use the traditional medium of embroidery.

Award categories

Breaking the Mould 2020 will be recognising local organisations across eight award categories, details of which are available below:

Health & Wellbeing Award

Award for the most innovative new healthcare product, service or process that has or will have a substantial impact on the effectiveness of the delivery of healthcare and/or wellbeing, improve the effectiveness, safety or experience of patients, healthcare professionals and/or staff in the workplace and benefit the regional economy. This award is open to new or established businesses or social enterprises.

Sustainability Award

Award for the most innovative new sustainable and/or low carbon product, service or process that has or will have a substantial impact on carbon emissions, materials circularity and/or the protection of biodiversity. The innovation should be economically and financially sustainable and benefit the regional economy. This award is open to new or established businesses or social enterprise.

Social Inclusion Award

Award for the most innovative new product, service or process that has or will have a substantial impact on social inclusion. For example, This could for example be an improvement in opportunity, education, services provision, life or work experience of disadvantaged minorities or communities. The innovation should be economically and financially sustainable and could tackle an issues of inequality on a local, national or global scale.

Cultivating Talent Award

Award for the new or established business, enterprise or social enterprise that has provided the best student placement experience. This should have helped to improve the skills and attributes gained from their degree, enabled them to apply subject knowledge and theory to real-world practice, explored career options and significantly improved their chances of getting a graduate job.

Collaboration of the Year Award

Award for the most productive Keele University-Enterprise collaboration. This should have demonstrably brought together the different contributions of academia and enterprise, in an innovative and impactful project that has the potential to deliver benefits to the region, nation or globally. The winner will be poised to thrive in the coming years and be resilient to the challenges of climate change, social inclusion, growing healthcare needs and rapid technological change. An ambassador for the University, our region and the future.

Leadership Award

We are looking for the exceptional business leader that may have grasped an opportunity to develop a successful new enterprise or transformed the performance of an existing business. The most exceptional leaders also show leadership outside their area of authority. For example taking the lead in developing their business sectors, their regional economy, helping the next generation of entrepreneurs or catalysing corporate social responsibility.

Pandemic Response Award

The Coronavirus pandemic has affected each and every one of us. Many businesses have acted innovatively in order to maintain their service provision, whilst others have switched focus in order to support the local and national response to the virus. This award recognises those that have adapted successfully to the ever-changing situation.

Keele University Science & Innovation Park Company of the Year Award

Keele University’s Science and Innovation Park is one of the largest and most established sites of its kind in the UK, and is home to more than 50 of Staffordshire’s most innovative companies. This award recognises those tenants that have demonstrated inspirational, motivation and meaningful growth over the past 12 months.

Please note that all Science and Innovation Park tenants will be automatically nominated for this award – no nomination applications are required.


We are proud to successfully collaborate with partners on projects that are mutually beneficial and meaningful, whilst also supporting partners’ strategic aims, as well as meeting our own academic and charitable objectives.  Keele University has a highly-respected and valued reputation for partnering with organisations, businesses, charities, and public sector partners.

We are inviting companies, charities and not-for profits who have benefitted from any of the suite of innovative support programmes available at Keele, including:

  • Internship programme
  • Smart Innovation Hub programmes (including the Mercia Centre for Innovation Leadership (MCIL) programme and the Keele Research and Innovation Support Programme (KRISP))
  • Smart Energy Network Demonstrator (SEND)
  • Business Bridge
  • Student placements
  • Collaborative research 
  • Any organsation based on the Keele University Science and Innovation Park.
Organisations who submitted nominations for last year's Breaking the Mould awards are still eligible to submit entries for this year's awards.
The deadline for receipt of nominations was 11.59pm on Sunday 1 November 2020.
Please note that we reserve the right to refuse sponsorship or entry from any organisation that does not reflect the ethos of the University or who could negatively impact on the reputation of the institution.