Higher quality makes up for fall in quantity of Queen's Awards

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The annual Queen's Awards for Enterprise, published today, saw a steep fall in applications for the 2004 honours.

The annual Queen's Awards for Enterprise, published today, saw a steep fall in applications for the 2004 honours.

However, the quality of the applications this year was judged to be much higher, meaning that the number of awards actually granted was only slightly down on 2003.

As ever, a huge range of companies picked up the 112 awards made for 2004, from a Scotch whisky producer to Wolfson Research Laboratories at the University of Birmingham. The honours cover three different categories - for "outstanding achievement" in international trade, innovation and sustainable development.

The number of applications for the 2004 awards dropped to 737, from 1008 in 2003 - which was a record in recent years. But the number of awards made dropped by just 11 from last year's 123.

David Moore, secretary to the advisory committee that judges the applications, said: "Despite the lower number of applications this year, which was likely to be due to the difficult trading conditions seen since September 2001, the quality this year was particularly high."

Although the companies applying for the biggest category, international trade, was down by 82 to 280 compared with 2003, the number of awards granted was four higher at 66.

Among the smallest companies to win this year was the grandly named Monarch International, based in Slough, which has just three employees - led by Alan Stephenson and his son Craig. Picking up an award in the innovation category, Monarch has created a solution to the irritating problem of securing wall plugs (for screws) in oversized holes. The company came up with a quick-drying plaster that is wrapped around the plug, before inserting it into the wall.

The Macallan, producer of the famous single malt whisky, collected its sixth award - for international trade. Between 2000 and 2003 The Macallan established 13 new markets, including Russia, Mongolia and Panama. Last year, it became the first Scotch whisky brand to open a sales office in China.

This year also produced the largest ever winner of an award, with Prudential, the financial services giant, winning for its record in growing its overseas earnings. The award recognises the increase in the contribution made over a three-year period by Prudential's overseas businesses in the United States and Asia, which between them contributed 74 per cent of the group's sales and 70 per cent of new business profits in 2002, compared with 55 per cent and 61 per cent, respectively, in 2000. During that period, Prudential Asia's sales increased fivefold and its new business profits more than doubled.

For Dr Sidney Alford, the award could transform the fortunes of his company and this could, literally, be a matter of life or death for people around the world.

Alford Technologies - comprised of Dr Alford, his wife and his son - have invented a device that looks set to play a key role in bomb disposal.

The Vulcan, as the invention is called, fires a jet of metal violently into a bomb, which has the effect of setting it on fire without detonating it. The device is now in use in combat zones including Iraq and Afghanistan.

"This award means that the people in the establishment who have tried for many years to pretend that I do not exist can no longer do so," Dr Alford said.

The company, based in Wiltshire, has also used the principle in tackling car bombs that use fertiliser as the explosive. In this case, a powerful jet of water is used.

THE WINNERS

International Trade:

AN Technology; Air Transport Publications; Ampy Automation Digilog; B+H Polymers; BMP Europe; BSW; Brisbane Moss Corduroys; British Mediterranean Airways; CGI International; CSR; Centre for Energy, Petroleum & Mineral Law & Policy - University of Dundee; Checkmate UK; Combustion, Energy and Steam Specialists; Daniels Fans; Dishman Europe; Dulas; Energy and Power Consultants; Environmental Business Products; Euroweigh; FM Insurance; Farrow & Ball; Helios Technology; Domnick Hunter - Process Filtration Operation; JMJ Associates; Kingston Technology Europe; Laminar Medica; MET Studio Design; The Macallan Distillers; Mackay's; McAvoy Group; Mott MacDonald Group; Muntons Malted Ingredients; New Balance Athletic Shoes (UK); Nicobrand; Nikwax; Nisa International; S. Norton & Co; O-I Europe (Machinery and Distribution); Oxford Semiconductor; Peak Scientific Instruments; PestWest Electronics; Prudential; RWS Group; Regent Shipping Agencies; Romax Technology; Shesto; Somar International; Sophos; Spirent Communications (SW); Streamline International; Swift-Lite Charcoal; TMD Technologies; Techtools (Morden); Tobermore Concrete Products; Total Healthcare Solutions; Trend Marine Products; Tudor Rose International; UPU Industries; University of Hertfordshire Higher Education Corp; Valve Train Components; Vector International; Viewframe Pictures; Ward Shoes; Wassen International; Weetabix; Wolfson Microelectronics.

Innovation:

Advanced Powder Technology; AESSEAL; Air Products, Packaged Gases, Speciality Gases Group; Alford Technologies; Alumet Systems (UK); Andor Technology; Bridgeclear; The Micromark Division of Bridisco; Comtec (Europe); Curious Software; Dage Precision Industries; Davis Schottlander & Davis; DELCAM; Dorset Orthopaedic; Dynamic Cassette International; e2v technologies; Fibercore; Hays DX; Holroyd; Imagination Technologies; Integrated Display Systems; Link Research; MBDA UK; Monarch International UK; Mulalley & Co; The Natural Wheat Bag Co; Nuaire Holdings; Opal Telecom; Panaz; Primayer; ProCheckUp; Renishaw; Salamander Organization; Sericol; Severn Trent Services; Supply Point Systems; Traka; Wolfson Research Labs; Yorktest Group.

Sustainable Development:

Clynfyw Countryside Centre; Max Fordham; KeyMed (Medical & Industrial Equipment); Martin-Baker Aircraft; Scottish Seabird Centre; Second Nature UK; Triodos Bank.

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