Event report

Franco-British Business Awards 2021

Winners from five different categories collected their prizes during an emotional evening at the Bulgari Hotel in London’s West End - An article by Alice Tchernookova from francaisalondres.com


A dashing crowd of international attendees gathered at the Bulgari Hotel in London on November 4 to celebrate the winners of the 2021 Franco-British Business Awards.

It wasn’t without some emotion that Fabienne Viala, president of the French Chamber of Great Britain and Chairman of Bouygues UK, opened the night with a speech in which she welcomed and thanked the guests for their presence.

“This year, more than any other, the Franco-British Business Awards hold a special place,” she said. “First, because it is our first Gala dinner since the beginning of the pandemic, and indeed, since the 2019 edition of the awards. Second, because of the backdrop of current Franco-British political relations.”

In this context, it feels more important than ever to celebrate the good business – as well as culture, ties and values – that exists between both countries, Viala continued. “We are proud that the Franco-British Business Awards play a key part in this, by recognising the Franco-British organisations that stand out through their excellence,” she said.

During the ceremony, sponsored by the Conseillers du Commerce Extérieur de la France au Royaume-Uni, five awards were presented, spanning categories such as community impact, Franco-British collaboration, net-zero champion, tech launch, and wellbeing in crisis. An impromptu sixth category, named “coup de coeur”, rewarded a company that was nominated for one of the core awards and didn’t win – but impressed the jury by its dedication and vision.

“We have received over 30 applications this year, which demonstrates that our community remains ambitious, innovative and resilient in a time of great challenge,” said Viala. “I would like to thank all the companies who have entered the competition and contributed to the very high quality of entries received.”

The community impact award, sponsored by Dassault Systèmes, was attributed to Maintenant, Sustaining Now – an education technology (edtech) social enterprise educating future leaders through trainings, corporate workshops and sustainable card games. “Thank you for this post-pandemic hug – this award means the world to us and will fuel our mission with renewable energy, aiming to make the world a better, healthier place,” said a company representative upon receiving the prize.

In the Franco-British collaboration category, the winner was Colas Rail – a railway infrastructure company that helped to connect the West Midlands by delivering a light-rail programme including close collaborations with local authorities. “After this challenging dinner where we managed to eat fish all along, I’m very proud to receive this award,” said a Colas Rail representative, making a tongue-in-cheek allusion to Brexit-related fishing rights issues. “After 20 years of presence in the UK, gathering the best expertise and know-how, we are very proud to contribute to building one of the most sustainable railways from Birmingham to the West Midlands.”

The Airbus-sponsored net zero category was championed by Schneider Electric, which was rewarded for its pioneering role as a world leader in sustainability. The jury, which included UK Climate Change Committee chair Lord Deben, was impressed with the scope of Schneider’s initiatives, and with its work to reduce carbon emissions throughout its supply chain. Upon receiving the prize, a company spokesperson said net zero and decarbonisation were both part of Schneider’s DNA, and that the group strived to “walk the talk”. “It starts with us, but we will also be there to support,” he added.

The tech launch award, sponsored by Browne Jacobson in partnership with La French Tech London, was attributed to Scaleflex – a cloud collaboration platform helping businesses to optimise their media assets and improve their digital customer experience. “Thank you very much for this award, it means a lot to us, and thanks to La French Tech for believing in us,” said a group representative. “We have been working remotely since inception. We are a talented team of 50 people, with a passion for delivering content operations. This recognition means a lot for many reasons, but tonight, I will just celebrate and thank you all.”

Sponsored by EDF, the wellbeing in crisis award went to International SOS, which distinguished itself with its wellbeing programme, created long before the pandemic. When Covid-19 struck, the health and securities platform took additional measures to support its staff’s mental health through various webinars and activities. It also set up a network of international businesses that could learn from each other’s practices. “It’s a real honour,” a company spokesperson said upon receiving the prize. “We care for our clients and their wellbeing, and are committed to doing even better for our employees. Thank you for tonight.”

The Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill, also nominated for the wellbeing in crisis award, received the jury’s coup de coeur prize for the series of measures it implemented to support employees’ and students’ mental and physical health throughout the pandemic. “I’m very moved – I haven’t prepared a speech,” said the Lycée’s head of school Mireille Rabaté. “Education is a booming and crucial sector for the future of the economy and of the whole world. I’m very pleased to be part of the French Chamber and to be recognised for the work we do at the Lycée. This year, we’ve all had to deal with challenges we could have never even imagined, so thank you very much.”

 

Find out more about the Franco-British Business Awards

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