Startups Awards 2017: New judges unveiled as entry deadline nears

SwiftKey's Ben Medlock MBE, Onfido co-founder Husayn Kassai, and BGF Ventures founding partner Simon Calver give backing to UK's top start-up awards

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A number of inspiring names have been added to the growing roster of high profile figures that make up the prestigious judging panel for the Startups Awards 2017.

The longest running start-up awards of its kind, the Startups Awards celebrates the UK’s most incredible early-stage businesses launched in the last four years.

Dr Ben Medlock MBE, co-founder and CTO of SwiftKey; Husayn Kassai, co-founder and CEO of background checking tool Onfido; LOVEFiLM and BGF Ventures’ Simon Calver, and co-founder and president of MVF Titus Sharpe, have all been announced as judges, as well as’s founder David Lester and editorial director Ian Wallis.

Having grown artificial intelligence-based predictive keyboard firm SwiftKey to millions of users around the world and a reported £250m acquisition by Microsoft in 2016, Medlock knows a thing or two about building a successful global business; knowledge that puts him in good stead to assess this year’s cohort of ambitious entrants.

Kassai also knows what it takes to win at the Startups Awards, having taken home the overall Sage Startups Business of the Year 2016 alongside co-founders Eamon Jubbawy and Ruhul Amin. The entrepreneur discussed the exciting developments his business has experienced since the win in this Startups Awards Hall of Fame interview.

As chief executive of LOVEFiLM, Calver was integral to the firm’s international growth and eventual sale to Amazon in 2011, before becoming the boss of Mothercare the following year. The serial entrepreneur is also one of the founding partners of BGF Ventures; the £200m investment vehicle launched by the Business Growth Fund in 2015 which is dedicated to supporting UK tech start-ups.

Sharpe co-founded MVF – his fourth venture – in 2009; it has quickly grown to become one of the UK’s leading customer generation operations and has offices in London and the US. New owner of, MVF was recently named by The Sunday Times as one of the best companies to work for.

The new judges join an already impressive panel which includes Liz Earle Wellbeing founder Liz Earle MBE, Dragons’ Den star Touker Suleyman, and Ella’s Kitchen founder Paul Lindley. View the full judging panel here.

Once again, the Startups Awards has attracted a number of high-profile sponsors including headline sponsor The Start Up Loans Company and bronze sponsors AXA Business Insurance, haysmacintrye and 123Reg. Learn more about the sponsors here.

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