Our two stage judging process increases robustness, ensures credibility and enhances prestige for all those recognised for the Growth Investor Awards.

Open to any organisation involved in putting investment to work in UK SMEs, the Awards are judged on information supplied in an online entry form – with questions specific to each category.

Guided by an Advisory Board, Intelligent Partnership’s Research Team conducts an initial shortlist of all entries* to identify finalists – who are announced in July. Finalist entries in each category then go to a second round of judging by at least three people drawn from an independent panel of at least 35 judges** to provide a diverse mix of qualified perspectives. All of the judges’ scores are collated to determine the winner and to generate a personalised Feedback & Benchmarking Report – so all finalists receive insight on areas of improvement. The judges decision is final.


*Please note that all information supplied in your entry is completely confidential and will not be published or shared with third parties.
**To avoid any conflict of interest, sponsors are not invited to judge, entrants cannot be sponsors and sponsors cannot enter the awards.



The role of the Advisory Board is to offer guidance on the judging process to ensure the criteria recognises best practice and awards reflect key industry trends and developments. Bringing a mix of perspectives – and influence across all relevant segments of the SME investment, advisory and business community – the Advisory Board includes:



Innovative Finance



Angel Investor, Entrepreneur &
Non-executive Director
London Stock Exchange


Entrepreneur in Residence
UK Government


Risk Capital Partners


Enterprise Nation


Founding CEO
Egg & First Direct


Director General


Seven Hills



Drawn from within the alternative investment industry and wider business community, our panel of independent judges bring a range of perspectives to level the playing field, increase robustness and credibility, and enhance the prestige of each award presented.

The independent judging panel for 2017 is currently being compiled. Previous judges include..

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Alex Evans

The Supper Club

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Alex Evans is Programme Director at Prelude Group, whose purpose is to inspire an entrepreneurial mindset in all leaders, and is responsible for developing thought leadership projects and associated partnerships. Prelude is home to The Supper Club, an exclusive community for founders and CEOs of innovative, high growth businesses above £1m turnover. The average sales among members of the Club is £17m and the average growth is 34%. The Supper Club supports members at every stage of their journey, from scale to exit and beyond, adapting to their evolving needs. By applying their understanding of entrepreneurs, Prelude also helps directors in all organisations to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset to drive innovation and growth.

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Andy Davis

Alternative Funding Network

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Andy has a longstanding interest in the business finance market, previously as Editor of FT Weekend and more recently as a researcher, commentator and advisor on the game-changing developments unfolding in the SME funding market. In 2012 he published the first comprehensive research on the emergence of Alternative Funding Platforms in the UK.

The AFN provides a much needed forum for harnessing and sharing market intelligence and thought leadership on the issues that matter in SME finance.

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Azhic Basirov

Smith & Williamson

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Azhic has particular experience of capital markets, especially IPOs on AIM and listings on the Official List. He also has experience of M&A and fundraisings from private equity sources.

His clients come from a range of sectors, but he has a particular focus in the technology, resources (including Oil & Gas), leisure, property and investment funds sectors. Azhic acts for a number of companies listed on AIM and the Official List and is a frequent presenter on the issues surrounding publicly listed companies to both clients and the wider business community.

His previous experience includes strategy consulting with The LEK Partnership and corporate finance experience with Kleinwort Benson prior to joining Smith & Williamson. Azhic is Managing Director of Smith & Williamson Corporate Finance and leads its Capital Markets practice.

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Bella Caridade-Ferreira


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Bella has 17 years’ experience in the research and analysis of the UK, European and Asian asset management industries. She set up Fundscape in 2010. Before starting Fundscape, she worked for Lipper FMI as Global Head of Research and Publications and was the author of numerous publications and reports including the popular European and Asian Data Digests, the Fund Market Profile series of reports and the UK Platform guide.

Early in her career she worked in investment banking and a London-based consulting firm where she specialised in market entry strategies for retail and institutional asset managers. She has a master’s degree in International Business and is fluent in four languages.

Bella is particularly fussy about grammar and punctuation, and loves going to the theatre, disco dancing and pub quizzes.

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Brendan Llewellyn

Adviser Home

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Financial Services strategic and marketing professional consultant with over 30 years senior experience.
50% corporate management and 50% in consultancy, non executive and interim director roles.

Helps businesses – providers and advisers- achieve optimum marketing integration in line with strategic goals. Interest in the relationship between strategy and communications.

Through Adviser Home, helping adviser practices create clear marketing differentiation and run their businesses more effectively.

Armchair Critic – columnist for Incisive Media – on www.ifaonline.co.uk and in Professional Adviser.
Chairman of Judges – Investment Marketing and Innovation Awards

Specialties: Financial services proposition development, brand creation and management, new company development and launch, distribution strategies and implementation, creative innovation, copywriting and management of virtual agencies.

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Chris Hannant


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Chris joined APFA in January 2012 as Policy Director and was appointed as Director

General in June 2013. Chris joined PIMFA when APFA and WMA merged to assist for the

transition of combining the organisations. Chris has 20 years’ experience on public policy

and working with government on a range of business and financial services issues. Chris

started his career working in the, then, Department for Trade and Industry and HM Treasury.

In 2003, he joined the ABI working on regulation and distribution of general insurance and

financial crime. Most recently he has been Policy Director at the British Chambers of

Commerce and Head of Representation at the EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation.

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David Brookes


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David is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and has over 20 years’ experience in tax compliance and advisory work.David is the Head of Tax at BDO in Reading and leads BDO’s specialist team dealing with SEIS/ EIS / VCT, inheritance tax business property relief (BPR) and other tax efficient investments.

He has acted for both the fund promoters and the high net worth investors. He also acts for estates and deals with HMRC queries on inheritance tax BPR claims.

David writes the ‘Venture Capital Taxes’ book which covers EIS, VCT and CVS and also chapters in ‘Revenue Law – Principles and Practice’ and ‘Tax Planning’, all published by Bloomsbury Professional

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Eleonora Ferrero

Mind the Bridge

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Passionate about tech, startups, and entrepreneurial education, I run projects to support the development of an innovative ecosystem where companies can grow.

Currently, I am Director of European Operations at Mind the Bridge Foundation, which I’ve launched in the UK in 2014, where I supervise the Startup Europe Partnership project, a European Commission funded program that aims at connecting startups to corporates.

Experienced strategy, innovation, and change management consultant with over eight years of international experience working with startups, SMEs, multinationals, and international organizations. Qualified business coach, I have supported organizations to reach their organizational goals and define disruptive business models. Since two years I’ve specialized in open innovation consulting for large corporate, focusing on crowdsourcing and startup-collaboration.

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Elizabeth Budd

Pinsent Mansons

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Elizabeth Budd is a partner in the Financial Regulation and Investment Funds Team with extensive expertise advising asset managers, fund managers, depositaries, wealth managers, fund distributors including platforms, and insurance companies on the constantly shifting landscape in the UK and EU.

On the funds side she has established UCITS and AIFs structured as unit trusts, open ended investment companies and limited partnerships, on-shore and off-shore. She has also advised extensively on the distribution of fund and other products.

Elizabeth acts regularly on investment management agreements, custody arrangements and administration agreements for direct portfolios and fund mandates. She also advises on perimeter issues, applications for authorisation and variations of permission, as well as regulatory implications of employment and LLP disputes in authorised firms.

Until recently she was a member of the EIS Association’s Regulatory Committee was involved in the creation of the EIS Diploma, assisting in drafting the syllabus.

Legal 500 describes Elizabeth as respected as a leader in the fund management world and Chambers describes her as highly regarded in the investment fund community for expertise and reliable advice. She is the editor to Sweet & Maxwell’s Collective Investment Scheme: Law and Practice.

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Emanuela Vartolomei

All Street

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Emma is the founder and CEO of All Street. An economist by trade, Emma is dedicated to enabling everyone to get involved in the new financial system that crowdfunding is creating. She brings significant experience in financial services across corporate banking and asset management, an MBA degree from Oxford University and two Masters of Science. She believes in the power of shared knowledge to transform the alternative finance space. Emma’s a whizz at finance and a fan of plain talking. She’s the brains, brawn and buoyancy behind All Street.

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Iain Baillie

Asset Match

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Iain began his career at stockbroker’s Strauss Turnbull and Co and has been involved in UK and European Capital Markets for over 35 years as a trader of both equities and corporate bonds, culminating in heading European credit trading as a Managing Director of Salomon Brothers. Iain was also a founding director of LBDP, a successful agency broker in European credit.

From 2003 to 2007 Iain was CEO of MarketAxess Europe, the leading platform for electronic execution in the credit market. Before founding Asset Match Iain was Head of Fixed Income at Christopher Street Capital.

Aside from his role at Asset Match, Iain is a regular investor in early-stage businesses.

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Jane Gomez

The Supper Club

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Jane Gomez is Director of Prelude Group, whose mission is to help make Britain the most enterprising nation in the world. Prelude is home to The Supper Club, a membership club exclusively for fast-growth entrepreneurs and The Directors Club, offering peer learning and strategic development for directors. Jane has chaired hundreds of events and discussions, giving her an unparalleled insight into entrepreneurial sentiment in the UK and the challenges facing business leaders and their teams. As the strategic leader of the business, Jane works closely with both members and partners to develop greater value within Prelude’s services.

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John Barnett

Burges Salmon

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John has worked at Burges Salmon for over 20 years and is head of the firm’s private client services department.

He provides tax advice to a wide-range of high-net worth individuals and many leading banks and other financial institutions. He has a particular focus on entrepreneurial clients, many of whom are not domiciled in the UK or have business or other interests abroad.

John chaired the CIOT’s Capital Gains Tax sub-committee from 2006 to 2014 and since then has been a member of the CIOT’s governing Council. He was a member of the General Anti-Abuse Rule (GAAR) panel that approved HMRC’s initial GAAR guidance.

He has led the CIOT’s response on a large number of capital tax policy discussions with HMRC and HM Treasury since 2006 including in particular the domicile changes since 2008 and the statutory residence test.

John has been named in eprivateclient’s 50 Most Influential every year since 2014.

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Liz A Brion

Grant Thornton

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Liz has worked at Grant Thornton since 2001 and became a tax partner in 2008. She heads the mid-market corporate tax department in the London Euston office. Liz represents Grant Thornton at the Enterprise Investment Scheme Association (EISA). Grant Thornton is a sponsor of the Association for 2014.

Liz has been a member of the Media and Entertainment team since joining the firm in 2001 and works predominantly with entrepreneurial, AIM listed and offshore media businesses advising them on a range of tax issues including in respect of venture capital and creative tax reliefs.

As partner Liz is responsible for coordinating the provision of tax services across the team’s client base and her role has included planning for efficient structures, planning for transactions (mainly new equity financing) and development of clients eg employee equity participation, restructuring and eventual exit in addition to delivery of tax advisory and compliance services.

With regard to EIS, Liz advises on structuring for EIS, advising companies and funds raising EIS funds as well as EIS investors. Her work includes obtaining HMRC Advance Assurances and reviewing Information Memoranda. Recently she has been involved in discussions with HMRC Policy concerning EIS and media co-productions.

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Louise Mountford


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Louise is part of PwC’s Venture Capital tax team. She builds relationships with companies and funds looking for SEIS and EIS investment. Louise works closely with these companies to help them understand the complexities surrounding the tax legislation and provides support from dealing with HMRC to advising on transactions to ensure the qualifying criteria is met and maintained

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Martin Fox

Bulleting Marketing

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Martin has been in financial services marketing all his working life! After a range of roles at Legal & General, he became Marketing Director at Prolific, and then General Manager Marketing at Pearl.
He then took the opportunity to set up the strategic marketing arm of a London agency, where he launched ABN AMRO into the UK retail market, and launched Just Retirement from scratch.
Today he runs Bulletin Marketing, and has a wide portfolio of financial services clients, across product providers, banks, investment houses, EIS managers, wealth managers, family offices and service providers. Bulletin provides research and marketing consultancy and support to enable companies to become more profitable.
He is one of the judges of the Sustainable and Ethical Investment Awards run by Incisive Media, and he also chairs the judging committee of the EIS
Association awards and is chair of the EISA Financial Planning Committee.

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Nathan Elstub


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Nathan has been involved in venture capital and private equity investment in high growth businesses for almost 20 years and has successfully backed companies in a wide range of sectors and from start-up stage through to buy-outs.  Originally an engineer, Nathan is a Chartered Accountant and previously worked at Arthur Andersen, Barclays Private Equity and Social Finance.
Nathan is also an advisory board member and founder mentor of Emerge Education, a leading ed-tech accelerator, on the investment committee of the Shared Lives impact investment fund, an active business angel and non-executive director of a number of businesses.

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Nicholas O' Donohoe

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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Nick O’Donohoe joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in January 2016 as Senior Adviser for Blended Finance, where he originates, executes and manages blended finance transactions.

Between 2011 and 2016, Nick served as the founding Chief Executive of Big Society Capital. Nick helped to produce the blueprint for the government-backed social investment wholesaler and became its chief executive when the organisation was launched.

Prior to that Nick was Global Head of Research at JP Morgan. He was responsible for the firms Equity, Credit, Interest Rate, FX and Commodities research groups in addition to the firms Economics research department. He was also a member of the Management Committee of the Investment Bank and the Executive Committee of JPMorgan Chase.

Nick joined JP Morgan in 1996 and became Head of European Equity research in 1999. A year later, he assumed overall responsibility for European and Japanese Cash Equities and, following the merger with Chase, became Head of Cash Equities for Europe, Middle East and Africa. He was appointed Global Head of Equity Research in 2002 and Global Head of Research in 2005.

Prior to joining JPMorgan Nick worked at Goldman Sachs where he served as Resident Manager of its Zurich office, Head of Alternative Investments in Europe and Head of International Marketing at GSAM.

While at J.P. Morgan, Nick was also the senior sponsor for the firms Social Finance Unit, which invests in and delivers capital markets services to Social Enterprises around the world.

He is a board member of the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN).

Nick has a B.A. in Mathematical Economics and Statistics from Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

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Paul Herman


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Paul is the founder of Bluebox. He is a chartered accountant with a wealth of experience in both selling private companies and preparing them for sale. He has sold over 50 private businesses for values ranging between £2m and £200m across a range of sectors including a number of well-respected UK businesses such as Models Own, Gü, Princess Yachts, Mappin & Webb, Smythson, Watches of Switzerland and Vapestick.

Paul originally qualified as a Chartered Accountant at PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) where he specialised in Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) and private company valuations. In 1998 he moved into private equity with an award winning London-based team before joining a corporate finance boutique in London where he was promoted, over a 13 year period, to become one of the Senior Partners.

In 2012, James Caan, backed Paul to start Bluebox, having experienced first hand the value that he helped create for two of his own private disposals.

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Paul Richardson

The Share Centre

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After a first career as a RAF Regiment officer, Paul has had over 16 years’ experience in numerous roles within financial services primarily in the marketing and sales processes of products. This has included being an equity broker with Redmayne Bentley, a banker with RBS, through to being the Divisional Sales & Marketing Head for an investment house in the City where he was responsible for their monthly magazine that not only covered the FTSE but also fledgling British companies. He has also been the Chairman of a London Chamber of Commerce whose membership was mainly SMEs and where he assisted these companies to grow and develop. In his latest role at The Share Centre as Head of Corporate Sales & Relationships he is responsible for the Department that provides the administration and custodial services to an ever growing number of EIS, Investor Relief & BPR fund managers. Furthermore, he is a contributor of articles to magazines & websites on the Alternative Investment sector.

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Rebecca Burn-Calender

The Telegraph

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Rebecca Burn-Callander is the former enterprise editor of the Daily Telegraph, and now writes about entrepreneurs, start-ups, SMEs and fast-growth businesses for the British press. Former web editor of Management Today Magazine and deputy editor of small business advice website Smarta, she is one of Gorkana’s top 100 UK journalists to follow on Twitter.

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Russel Buckley

Spring Partners VC

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Sarah Abrahams

Grant Thornton

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Sarah leads Grant Thornton’s national Growth Finance division, providing a range of support services to businesses seeking up to £5m in external finance and representing the firm in the early-stage investment community.

Prior to this, Sarah led the national investor relations activity at Grant Thornton for its government-backed GrowthAccelerator service, which supported SMEs in raising over £210m of external finance during its operation. Sarah worked closely with participant companies to identify suitable funding strategies and facilitating targeted introductions to investors.

Sarah regularly speaks at industry events on topics such as the issues around raising finance for SMEs, how to best access external finance, SEIS/EIS, as well as general commentary on the national funding landscape. Outside of Grant Thornton, Sarah is a member of various angel syndicates including Angels 5k and Angel Academe and also mentors early-stage businesses on accessing and preparing for external finance.

Sarah is a member of the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments (CISI), the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) and is an active member on the Advisory Committee for the Enterprise Investment Scheme Association (EISA).

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Simon Webber

Thomson Taraz

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Simon is responsible for the strategic direction and management of Thompson Taraz Managers, supporting real estate and venture capital fund managers, as well as business angel networks, through fund support services including consultancy, outsourced fund management and fund administration. Simon has been a Director or Board Adviser to a number of high-profile, multi-national fund management and funds services businesses.

As well as fund management, he has been involved in smaller company development, fundraising and corporate finance for more than fifteen years. He also has particular expertise in strategic compliance and risk matters and sits on the Institutional Committee of the Association of Professional Compliance Consultants. Simon has twice acted as a ‘Skilled Person’ appointed to prepare reports for the UK regulator.

Simon’s sector knowledge, clarity and perception allows Thompson Taraz’s clients to concentrate on what they do best, secure in the knowledge that they have considered and expert support to call on as needed.

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Stephen Herring

Institute of Directors

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Stephen is Head of Taxation in the Institute of Directors’ Policy Unit. He graduated from Manchester University with an honours degree in Economics & Politics. He is a member of both the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Chartered Institute of Taxation. Stephen has specialised in taxation for over thirty years and, before joining the IoD in September 2013, he was a partner in three global accounting firms (Grant Thornton, Ernst & Young and BDO) for a total of twenty-eight years. He was appointed by the Exchequer Secretary as one of the (then) eight independent members of HM Treasury’s Tax Professionals Forum. He often speaks on taxation and related matters at conferences and regularly appears in both the national and tax technical press and on the broadcast media. He is a strong supporter of tax simplification and reduced tax rates for both businesses and individuals and believes that it is imperative that the misconceptions about tax planning which are regularly asserted by anti-business lobbyists are aggressively refuted.

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Stephen Smith


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Stephen is a tax partner specialising in advising privately owned and PE backed businesses. He also leads our national Venture Capital taxes business.

Steve has been with PwC for over 20 years and recently returned to the Midlands after two years in Belfast and the last four years in London.

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Steve Gazzard


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Steve Gazzard has over 30 years experience in financial services across a diverse range of professional bodies, platforms, banks, advice businesses, and life & pension providers. He has operated a number of leadership roles including; board membership, operational management, financial management, education governance, policy, strategy, sales & business development across a range of channels. Following his seven years as COO and then Interim CEO at the Institute of Financial Planning, he set up S J Gazzard Consulting Ltd which offers consultancy services across a range of financial services disciplines including strategy, policy, professional standards, distribution, and governance.

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