The winner of Venturefest North West's top Innovation Showcase award says the key to success is simplicity.

Reach and Rescue took home the overall award at Venturefest North West 2018 in front of an audience of hundreds at Manchester Central.

The Wigan-based business invented a 17-metre versatile rescue pole which is used by 80 per cent of the UK’s fire and emergency services. Now in over 30 countries around the world, its tagline is ‘reaching out to save lives’.

Company director Sean Burke told BusinessCloud he believes they took home the trophy because of the simplicity of the idea.

“There are a lot of amazing tech innovations out there but I don’t understand half of them. Often they’re not presented correctly but are actually really cool,” he said.

 “We took an idea and made it very simple, very easy to use and distilled down a really important thing that’s needed to rescue people from the water, which didn’t exist before this.

“It’s got a human element to it, it saves a lot of people and animals and people understand it straight away.

“Our system is hands-on and useable by a whole range of different people – I could teach you to use it in 10 minutes. It’s effective, affordable and can be used in any country in a lot of different industries.”

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 Commenting on the win, Burke said it feels ‘fabulous’ to gain recognition from the judges, remarking on the positive journey the company has had over the last seven years.

“We’re still the only people in the world that make and sell this product,” he said.

“We have no competitors, we’ve protected our product well and we’ve really taken advantage of the latest tech advancements in carbon fibre. That’s fundamentally why the product works so well, is unbreakable and has a lifetime guarantee.”

Going forward the company is now able to take the core technology and put various tools on top of it to serve a whole range of different industries.

“Rescue is where the tech came from but it goes into surveillance, security, border control, military – it’s all fundamentally down to the efforts we’ve put into carbon fibre technology which is now paying off,” he said.

Technology is rapidly growing in the search and rescue space, says Burke, with other types of innovation coming in to aid rescue workers around the world.

“It was very much a spit and sawdust kind of industry,” he explained. “Now people have monitoring systems, sensors, recording systems, performance monitoring and enhancement, and a lot of that’s coming from all different types of industries.

“I see so much tech in the rescue industry around the world, it’s amazing.”

Tech Manchester project lead Patricia Keating was impressed by the system and described it as “a simple approach to innovation”.

Reach and Rescue triumphed after pitches from 12 finalists.

Corporation Pop won the digital innovation competition for its Xploro mobile app, which uses 3D augmented reality interactive models and games to prepare children for going into hospital, reducing their stress and anxiety.

The winners of the innovative established business award were Rochdale's Whitham Mills Engineering, which has created a food waste tipping solution.

Urban Chain triumphed in the service innovation category for its blockchain-based platform which helps consumers switch to a better energy deal instantly.

Telcom’s Doug Ward won the audience competition with its Node technology which connects landlords and tenants, while Corporation Pop and Brain In Hand were runners-up.

The event was hosted by Century Tech founder and CEO Priya Lakhani.

The other finalists were Fulfilment Crowd, Call Me Help, Clyz Labs, Million Stars Sustainable Events, Radic8 and Redman Racing Boats.