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A tale of one city, innovating with a brazen creativity that is truly inspiring

AS THE LAST echoes of applause fade from Stadium MK following the tenth annual Milton Keynes Business Achievement Awards, we have taken a moment to reflect on an incredible evening of celebration writes awards chair Nicholas Mann (pictured above).

The energy in the room was palpable as more than 750 businesspeople from across the region came together to honour the innovation, resilience, and success that fuel our community.

A decade of MKBAA has not only showcased the extraordinary achievements of our peers but also reinforced the spirit of collective ambition that propels our city forward. And as we look to the horizon, one thing is clear… we are just getting started.

Forever Innovative: Milton Keynes Leading the UK’s high-tech future was a fitting theme for the tenth awards. This is a city that does not just adapt to the latest technological advancements; it actively seeks to push boundaries, redefine what is possible and innovate with a brazen creativity that is truly inspiring.

The tale of Milton Keynes reads like a roadmap to technological glory. In 2010, the city etched its place in history by becoming the pioneering testing ground for public electric vehicle charging points.

It was not merely a symbolic gesture. It was a sign of things to come, a harbinger of the times when green technology would meld seamlessly with daily life.

Fast forward to 2018 and Milton Keynes was home to the largest self-driving car project backed by the British government: the UK Autodrive Project. The streets of our burgeoning metropolis witnessed the final trials of autonomous vehicles – a watershed moment highlighting the city’s commitment to evolving infrastructure in tandem with cutting-edge innovation.

While the Autodrive Project captured global attention, it was the tip of the iceberg. Starship Technologies, the trailblazing company behind emission-free delivery robots (pictured left), started in Milton Keynes and has since expanded its fleet nationwide.

Each gliding robot is a testament to the city’s ability to nurture technology from conception through to international success – and it will not be the last.

For the tenth anniversary, it was fitting that the coveted Business of the Year award went to Bletchley Park. One of the most iconic sites in our midst, Bletchley Park was the setting of a watershed moment in history due to the innovative genius of the codebreakers and once again made headlines last year by hosting the world’s first AI Safety Summit.

The UK government chose Bletchley Park to host the global AI Safety Summit in November.

Beyond the headlines, Milton Keynes consistently features as an economic powerhouse, a hotbed for start-ups and established companies alike. It is not by chance but by design as the city’s policies and infrastructure are tailored to support these burgeoning tech enterprises, cementing its reputation as a start-up haven.

The MKBAA awards serve as both a barometer of success and a platform for recognition. Over the past decade, the city has seen an unprecedented surge in economic growth, leading the charge in sectors ranging from clean energy to Artificial Intelligence. With each passing year, the awards have tracked Milton Keynes’ meteoric rise through its themes, celebrating the innovative enterprises, small businesses and entrepreneurs who have transformed the city from a suburban vision of the future to a true, pulsating nexus of technological excellence.

Celebrating the industry luminaries and rising stars during the awards, we have done more than just pat ourselves on the back. We assume the mantle of responsibility, understanding that with every accolade comes the expectation of further progress.

Milton Keynes has proven it can be the incubator of unprecedented tech; now is the time for us to live up to the title of ‘Testbed Location for Innovation’ with sustained, groundbreaking work that not only propels the city forward but also enriches the national and international tech ecosystem.

Here’s to ten years of excellence, and the next decade of milestones, growth and MKBAA.

Nicholas Mann is chair of Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership. The Milton Keynes Business Achievement Awards are organised by MKBLP in association with events management specialist Evolution and full service marketing agency Interdirect.

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