Scottish businesses sweep up at FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards as carbon capture innovator claims top prize

17/05/2024

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has awarded the prestigious title of Small Business of the Year to Edinburgh-based CCU International, a trailblazing enterprise tackling carbon emissions through innovative carbon capture technology.

Awards host and TV personality Tess Daly crowned CCU International the overall UK winner at the FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards 2024. The grand final event, held at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, saw representatives from more than 140 small businesses, plus self-employed professionals, gather from across the UK, with each previously named a regional winner in their respective area.

Three Scottish businesses were crowned category winners. CCU International took home the Innovation Award and Small Business of the Year, while Beyond Green and Boogie Beat Music and Movement, both also Edinburgh-based, claimed the Diversity & Inclusion and Franchise Awards, respectively.

A start-up business revolutionising carbon capture, CCU International pioneers next-generation, proprietary technology that not only captures but refines carbon dioxide directly from industry chimney, flue, and exhaust stacks. It then channels CO2 back into industry or converts it to valued commodities such as aggregates for construction material, sustainable aviation fuels and surfactants used in household consumer products.

Beena Sharma, CEO and Co-Founder at CCU International, said: “Our double win is so humbling, especially considering we’ve only been at this for a short period compared to some of the other phenomenal businesses here. This is the small business awards, so it’s just the start of many things to come, and naturally, it feels amazing, all while validating that we’re on the right track.

“Our technology has proven that what we’re doing can be done, despite being told otherwise many times. Being recognised not just for innovation but as a business making a difference, impacting climate change in a big way, is incredibly rewarding.

“As a Scottish-based company, it’s a huge win for Scotland. We often compete for attention but have a phenomenally innovative business community and a great entrepreneurial ecosystem. Recognition from FSB will give us credibility with new and existing clients, firmly placing us as technology innovators, not just in Scotland, but also the UK, and hopefully paving the way for confident global expansion.

“We’ve had many highlights, and each award win solidifies that we’re heading in the right direction. Stepping on stage for the first time was surreal, but winning the overall best UK small business award took us by surprise. It shows that it’s not about how long you’ve been doing it; it’s about the impact you’re having.”

Meanwhile, Beyond Green claimed the Diversity & Inclusion Award for its commitment to increasing accessibility. Its small and passionate team of sustainability advisors help businesses make better choices by futureproofing their operations, protecting their profit margins, and building their values into their business. Beyond Green is a B Corp and a Disability Confident Leader and is dedicated to creating a better, more efficient, sustainable, and equitable future for everyone.

Lisa Kaiffer, Director at Beyond Green said: “We are incredibly proud to have won the Diversity & Inclusion Award. We’ve spent the last few years investing in our accessibility programme, building our skills and awareness internally, and starting conversations with our clients. It’s been amazing to see the difference we can make for each other and our wider network.

“Accessibility is sometimes seen as a topic exclusive to disability, but it’s also about how we all can work better together and build on each other’s strengths. The last few years have been a lot for most people, with the pandemic, the energy crisis, and the cost of living crisis adding more pressure in all aspects of our lives. Creating a space for us to talk about what we need from work makes a big difference. It means a lot to be recognised nationally for our efforts.

“As a small business, we don’t have the same marketing reach as large organisations. We’re reliant on word-of-mouth from clients and recommendations from our networks. Winning this award gives us the platform to raise our profile and stand out from our competitors.”

Boogie Beat Music and Movement provides engaging music, movement classes and workshops in the community for families, schools, nurseries and children’s birthday parties. It also runs inter-generational workshops in care homes and day centres, and was awarded this year’s Franchise Award.

Mairi Curle is the franchise owner of Boogie Beat Music and Movement for Edinburgh Mid and East Lothian. She said: “Winning this national award feels surreal. I was up against tough competition from people who are much more established than I am. I think the speed of our growth is the reason we’ve been given this award, and it’s really nice to be recognised for that success over the last 18 months since I took the business on. I have a fantastic team delivering such a high-quality service, and they are going to be blown away by this win.

“We’re diverse in terms of what we offer – from our intergenerational sessions to our workshops in communities and classes. We really focus on inclusion and accessibility, and we’re always striving to improve ourselves for the benefit of the communities we work in. Supporting communities is so important to us and our nominated charity, Love from Jamie, does amazing work locally and we are proud to donate a portion of all our sales to them.

“Boogie Beat brings such fun and happiness to so many people. The intergenerational sessions are a special sort of magic. When you bring children from nursery into the care home environment, a light comes off the faces of women and men living there. Seeing the children dance inspires adults to participate, get up and do a bit of a boogie. The staff, children and adults are thrilled. It’s just such a special thing to do. I leave thinking ‘this is the best job in the world’.

“This is the first time I’ve entered the FSB awards, and I’d encourage any small business to enter. You have literally nothing to lose. You know your business inside out, so put it down on paper. It’s not difficult to fill out the application form, and you just never know where it’ll take you.”

This year’s Celebrating Small Business Awards grand final, delivered in partnership with headline sponsor Tyl by NatWest, was a momentous occasion for FSB, representing a celebration of the UK’s best small businesses and self-employed professionals. Founded in 1974, FSB has been the leading voice for millions of small businesses and the self-employed community in the UK for half a century.

Martin Mctague, OBE, National Chair of FSB, said: “Congratulations to CCU International. They are a shining example of how small businesses are harnessing and driving innovation, technology and sustainability to energise the UK’s economy and inspire the next generation.

“Well done, also, to Boogie Beat Music and Movement and Beyond Green. From leading the charge for sustainability, to supporting businesses, increasing accessibility and strengthening communities through connection, Scottish small businesses showcased the creativity and tenacity that holds up our national economy.”

The complete list of UK winners in the 12 categories are:

· Small Business of the Year & Innovation Award – CCU International

· Young Entrepreneur Award – Samantha Cage, Ocala Healthcare

· Sustainability Award – Stubcroft Farm Campsite Ltd

· Expansion & Growth Award – Technology Powered Services Ltd

· Community Award – Nightstop Communities North-West CIC

· Diversity & Inclusion Award – Beyond Green

· Family Business Award – TEKShop

· Franchise Award – Boogie Beat Music and Movement

· Micro Business Award – 9Trees

· Self-Employed / Freelancer Award – Neil Trewick of Trew Surveying Ltd

· Service Excellence Award – Vanlife Conversions Ltd

· Start-up Business Award – HJH Commercial Consultants

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