The Finalists!

Meet the North East Entrepreneurial Awards Finalists for 2022!

Emerging Talent

Kimberley Cattin, WBCo

Kimberley Cattin, WBCo

Since starting WBCo with mum Donna in 2016, Kimberley has used her stellar business experience to grow an outstanding cosmetics company that now employs 28 people, ships globally, is stocked in prestigious stores like Liberty London and Harrods, and is a favourite with pro makeup artists and celebrities alike.

Chloe Clover, Wander Films

Chloe Clover, Wander Films

Chloë Clover is the co-founder/director of Wander Films. Wander is an award-winning video production and content marketing company known for creating next-level visual content for brands to #beatthescroll™.

Clover made the prestigious Forbes 30 Under 30 list and led Wander from two girls with a broken GoPro to a team of 17 working with brands all over the world.

Clover, who dropped out of school, is an enterprise advisor at Northern School of Art and is on the board of Power of Women, a community interest company dedicated to encouraging young people to follow their dreams. 

Richard Shell, The Doxford Group

Richard Shell, The Doxford Group

Richard is the owner and director of The Doxford Group, an award-winning, family business delivering the most spectacular weddings and events at Charlton Hall and Doxford Barns.

Having worked in the hospitality industry as a child before moving to the Edinburgh to pursue a career in banking Richard quit the city to return to the rural idyll where he was born, in Doxford Farm, Northumberland, to launch his first business Doxford Barns in July 2015 at the age of only 24.

2018, saw Richard launch his second wedding venue, Charlton Hall, an 18th century stately home. After growing up on the nearby farm, Doxford Farm, Richard had always envisioned owning Charlton Hall as his own wedding and events venue.

Scale-up Entrepreneur of the Year

James Hill, Polar NE

James Hill, Polar NE

James is the Managing Director of Polar NE, a company he has grown by an impressive 60% in the last year alone.

With a focus on people, James’s vision for Polar NE is to improve the lives of everyone in the Polar family, creating an environment where everyone loves getting up on a Monday morning and where work has meaning.

He is passionate about the products and services, and the lifesaving impact Polar products bring. His vision for the future is for Polar to reach as far as possible, improving people’s lives across the globe, while creating opportunities in the North East.

Rob Mathieson, ION

Rob Mathieson, ION

Rob has been an entrepreneur since he set up his first business back in 2008. Having a background in internet technologies, he has been building technology solutions for nearly 20 years and founded ION in 2016 with the aim of providing Salesforce CRM services to local businesses.

As the company evolved it became the clear there was a growing need to provide mid-market CFO’s with financial technology, infrastructure and transformation services. Rob has directed the growth of the business and helped transition through a number of pivots, with the business now one of the UKs leading financial technology businesses partnering with some of the leading fintech companies in the world, including Sage, Stripe and FinancialForce.

ION is Newcastle based, but provides services to companies across North America and the middle-east.

Dale Smith, The SDDE Smith Group

Dale Smith, The SDDE Smith Group

Dale is a property entrepreneur with over 15 years first-hand experience in residential, commercial and holiday home property investment, property development, and holiday home management. He has grown what is now The SDDE Smith Group from one holiday home in March 2017, to a group of six customer facing brands including real-estate related services, construction, interior design and ongoing property management, with over two hundred and fifty employees and a forecasted group turnover of over £25million for 2022. 

Dale is passionate about the North East, and has developed a true purpose for the SDDE Smith Group, which is to push boundaries to create better places to live, work, and stay 

Tim Ward, OPPORTUNI

Tim Ward, OPPORTUNI

Tim has spent over 15 years in the procurement, bids and tendering industry, winning more than £20 Billion worth of contracts, often for the underdog. 

A forward thinker and visionary on a global mission to transform the procurement ecosystem, Tim and his co-founder Bill are building tech-based products at scale to level the procurement playing field, making opportunities accessible and winnable for any aspirational company. 

OPPORTUNI has made multi-million-pound investments in shaping the industry for future generations with a mission to redirect £225Billion worth of contracts per year to small and medium-sized businesses.



Entrepreneur of the Year (Supported by Ward Hadaway)

Sara Davies, Crafter's Companion

Sara Davies, Crafter's Companion

More details to follow...

Charlie Hoult

Charlie Hoult

Charlie has started several businesses since he set up a foraged field mushroom stall selling to visitors on Holy Island in the school holidays. Across his companies, he currently employs around 500 people in Opencast Software, Hoults Yard Hubs and Futureheads Recruitment.

He also started Dynamo North East, the corporate network that champions the region’s tech economy. These are all collaborative ventures, so three cheers to partners in action!

His personal LinkedIn page boasts more readers than The Journal.

Mike O'Brien, Opencast Software

Mike O'Brien, Opencast Software

Mike has worked in a variety of software development and senior exec roles in enterprise technology. After spending 10 years in software development for the NHS, he joined a Newcastle based start-up, helping to grow the firm to an 800-person global investment banking consulting and software company with 14 offices around the world. The company was acquired by Capgemini in 2010.

2012 saw Mike start Opencast Software, a modern, forward thinking and independent alternative to the traditional corporate consulting models focused on enterprise clients in the banking and government sectors. They work closely with clients to design, build and support complex software systems. Often dealing with many billions of pounds worth of transactions and data.

With 350 permanent staff Opencast’s hybrid working model utilise their four UK bases. Clients include Barclays, the NHS, JPMorgan, HMRC, Defra, Sage, and the Ministry of Justice.

Mike is a founding member of Dynamo and an early stage investor in Atom Bank.

Steven Rawlingson, Samuel Knight International

Steven Rawlingson, Samuel Knight International

Founder and Group CEO of Samuel Knight International, Steven is a seasoned executive with high growth (over 50% year over year), global P&L, M&A, and extensive international management experience.

A strong track record of successful leadership in global corporations across STEM solutions, project manpower and executive search sectors. Steven has over 20 years of extensive industry experience in helping create, build and fund fast-growing specialist international project solution companies within the Renewables sector.

Mentor of the Year (Supported by Malhotra Group)

The winner of the Mentor of the Year award is decided by the Entrepreneurs' Forum board and kept a closely guarded secret until the night! 

Lifetime Achievement (Supported by ION)

The most prestigious award of the evening, our Lifetime Achievement award is decided by the Entrepreneurs' Forum board and remains top secret until the winner is announced on the night! 

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