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Hi-tech loses favour with HRH

All but three of Queen's Technical Achievement gongs go to non-IT firms

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The Queen's Awards for Technical Achievement threw up a bountiful assortment of 14 winners yesterday, but only three went to our fair industry. This number was down on last year, when electronics companies netted eight of the gongs celebrating British innovation. The businesses blessed with HRH's prestigious prize were Digital Engineering, a Belfast ISDN developer, and Hampshire-based Snell & Wilcox, for its MPEG compression pre-processor for noise reduction or digital decoding of video signals. Hewlett-Packard's telecoms division also picked up an award for its acceSS7 standard, which corrects phone network faults in real time. There was frustration at the low number of hi-tech winners in this category, with other companies picking up awards for a wound dressing, a propeller and a press compensating mat (we don't know what it is either, but we suspect Intel would like one given its attitude journalists). But there has been a general decline in the number of entries from hi-tech firms. Anne Glover, managing director at venture capital firm Amadeus Capital Partners, told Electronics Weekly that the falling interest was not due to a reduction in UK technological innovation. "We are seeing some very vibrant sectors in electronics," she said. Ann Summers, perhaps? Others, like Danny Chapchal, chief executive of Cambridge Display Technology, said he would keep the IT flag flying and enter his company in next year's competition. He said he believed the Queen's Awards had lost none of their appeal. There were 101 honours given out for the three separate Awards categories: Export, Technological and Environmental Achievement. Eight out of the 82 Export awards went to electrical companies, including well-known British company Motorola, Compugraphics International, Evans & Sutherland, Data Connection and Pilkington Micronics. A full list of winners can be found today, the Queen's personal birthday (overseas readers: she has two, one personal, the other official) in the London Gazette. ®

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