The chips are definitely up for Imagination Technologies as it scoops a double

Computer games fiends have a lot to thank Imagination Technologies for. It has won an innovation award, and an award for international trade, for its silicon chips that power computer graphics.

Its PowerVR Technologies division, which makes up 80 per cent of its turnover, took both awards. It designs chips to power the 3D graphics seen in the ever-more explosive and realistic games available in the shops.

The chips are used in Sega's latest video games console, Dreamcast, and in the majority of new arcade machines worldwide.

In future, the chips will also be found in set-top boxes. The company provides the technology, it leaves the games themselves to others.

Hossein Yassaie, the chief executive of Imagination Technologies, said: "Its very important that we won both these awards. It shows that Britain can now both invent and sell. Previously, the cliché was that we just invent and can't commercially exploit these inventions. That is changing."

He said that there had also been a sea-change in attitudes towards technology companies.

"A few years ago, if you were doing something hi-tech and interesting, no one wanted to know. Now the City and the public have woken up," said Dr Yassaie. He said that the big challenge facing British hi-tech business was the shortage of technical graduates.

"We'd like to get our hands on a few more people," he said.

Founded in 1985, Imagination Technologies has a patented technology that delivers high-performance graphics while saving on memory. It develops the hardware and the software but leaves the low-margin business of manufacture to others - it licences out its designs and also collects royalty fees.

The Watford-based company, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, capitalised at over £500m, is working on other aspects of human-computer interaction.

Its core business is graphics, but other departments are working on video and sound technology, in hot business areas such as mobile telecommunications.

"Wherever humans and technology meet, we'll be there," said Dr Yassaie.