NORTH-EAST innovators, exporters and entrepreneurs have been honoured by Her Majesty The Queen in her annual business awards, announced today.

Inov-8 Limited, which designs and makes running shoes at its headquarters in Crook, County Durham, and Middlesbrough-born Ann Stonehouse, who has inspired women across the region to set up their own businesses, are among eight regional recipients of the ultimate business accolade.

Awards for international trade have been handed to Ikon Geopressure in Durham City and Middlesbrough-based Cordex Instruments, as well as to Integrated Display Systems, and Thomas Miller Claims Management in Tyneside.

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Stockton's Catalytic Technologies, which supplies the food and drinks packaging industry, was named in the innovation category.

A Queen's Award, which is held for five years, is given to companies and business leaders who are deemed outstanding in their field.

Northumbrian Water (NWL) has a special reason to celebrate as its place on today's list means it will receive continuous royal endorsement for a decade.

The utility firm first won the Queen's Award for Enterprise, for sustainable development, in 2008. 

Heidi Mottram, chief executive of NWL, said: "This recognition reflects our determination to become the best water and waste water company in the UK and our continued effort and commitment to protect and improve the environment, support local communities, contribute to the economy, be innovative and to the well being of our people."

To mark their achievements a royal representative will visit the winners to present them with their awards. They will also attend a celebratory reception at Buckingham Palace.

Cambridgeshire-based subsea firm JDR Cable Systems, which has a plant in Hartlepool, was also recognised for helping to boost British exports.

James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce, said: "International trade, innovation and sustainability are three of the great reasons to do business in the North-East because our companies have a fantastic track record in these areas.

"All these companies deserve massive congratulations for these awards and for the way they are enhancing the North-East's reputation even further."

Miss Stonehouse, a self-employed Teesside accountant, has been awarded a life-long Queens Award for Enterprise Promotion.

She said: "I was moved to tears when I heard about the award. I am absolutely thrilled. I get real satisfaction from helping other women in business."

After 10 months off work suffering from injuries in a car accident, Miss Stonehouse received the additional blow of redundancy. But that was just the push she needed to fulfil her dream of becoming her own boss.

For the past 14 years she has provided accountancy services to small firms from her base in Coulby Newham, whilst building a reputation as an ambassador for enterprise. 

As chair and co-founder of the Assist Women's Network, she is the leader of a group that encourages businesswomen across the Tees Valley to trade, communicate and share knowledge.

Meet the North-East winners: 

Ikon Geopressure was formed in 1997 as a spin out from the Durham University Earth Sciences Department.

It operates in a growing area providing software and geologically based knowledge of subsurface pressure in the world’s oil and gas fields, to
improve drilling effectiveness and safety.

It wins the Queen’s Award for International Trade for having increased overseas earnings by 771% over the last six years, exporting to 22 countries of which several are new markets in America, Africa and

The company continues to invest in training and technology and is adaptive in its approach using a number of market entry techniques. It has established technical hubs to support clients and identify further sales opportunities around the world.

Northumbrian Water Limited wins its second Sustainable Development Award for upholding exemplary standards in supplying drinking water and treating waste water. 

Having developed a strategy to generate 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, it has contributed much towards environmental improvement, developing innovative methods for generating electricity from sludge, utilising reed-beds to treat waste and co-digesting many waste streams in anaerobic digester plants. Whilst increasing the capacity of an existing reservoir to secure water for 1.5 million people, it is boosting the wildfowl and bio-diversity habitat.

It has demonstrated sector-leading outreach to communities, including donating 1% of pre-tax profit, establishing staff volunteer programmes, sponsoring improvement in a failing school, offering space to projects and developing a health centre within a deprived community.”

Ann Stonehouse is a self-employed accountant for small firms and is a well-known advocate for enterprise and entrepreneurship in Teesside and the North-East.

Miss Stonehouse has been directly involved in promoting
enterprise, focusing on women in the Teess Valley since 2000 through her paid role and through several voluntary contributions.

Her voluntary work promotes women’s enterprise through networking and mentoring. Her major contribution to women’s enterprise has been as a former Director of Women into the Network (WIN) organisation and in her current role as the chair of the Assist Women’s Network.

She has also been keen to promote young enterprise of all ages, either in schools through the Young Enterprise Programme, as a mentor to the Prince’s Trust and through many University Graduate Enterprise
Programmes. In addition, she runs seminars at Teesside University and at local colleges. 

Catalytic Technologies Ltd, wins an Innovation Award for developing new catalysts used in making PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) plastic products. The patented catalysts are applied to the production of synthetic fibre materials from which food packaging and drinks containers are made.

They are titanium-based and replace highly toxic, heavy metal catalysts, such as antimony. 

They are being applied on continuous production lines across Europe and Asia. Compared with alternatives, the catalysts support faster throughput, improved process control and more environmentally friendly manufacture.

The products are stronger and purer. The company has solved a long-standing problem associated with using PET plastic for food and drink
packaging and turned it to commercial success. 

Thomas Miller Claims Management Ltd began trading in 2007 and provides global problem solving, consultancy and emergency
support to ship operators and their insurers.

It wins the Queen’s Award for International Trade having grown overseas sales earnings 153% over the last three years, with exports having risen from 44% of total turnover to 78%.

The company makes at least two visits a year to every client in market to ensure it keeps abreast with opportunities. It is targeting the new
emerging markets in its sector of Japan and China in particular also by investing in market visits. Key markets are the US, Asia
Pacific and the EU.

Founded in 1979, Integrated Display Systems Ltd designs and manufactures handbrake setting and belt tensioning equipment.

It wins a further Queen’s Award for International Trade, increasing the growth recognised by its previous award.

Integrated Display Systems Ltd has established a network of technical distributors in each of its key markets. Most recently it has 
expanded this network into Brazil, Argentina and Russia. It focuses on developing unique and patentable products for which it becomes the sole supplier rather than compete head to head with larger multinational competition. Where opportunities exist it also enters trading partnerships with larger operators, enabling it to enter larger markets.

Established in 2001, Inov-8 Ltd designs and manufactures specialist sports footwear, apparel and accessories for off road running and functional fitness.

It wins the Queen’s Award for International Trade having grown overseas sales earnings substantially over three years. New markets entered in the three year period are South Africa, Canada, Argentina, Venezuela and
Peru, which now contribute over £2m of overall overseas sales.

Its overseas success has seen its number of employees in the UK rise from 18 to 31 over three years.

Established in 2009, CorDEX Instruments Ltd develops and manufactures hand-held, intrinsically safe instruments such as digital cameras and thermal imaging cameras.

The company has recently developed the world’s first intrinsically safe thermal imaging camera specifically for use in hazardous areas.

The specialist technical nature of CorDEX’s products involves significant
investment in research and development. It wins the Queen’s Award for International Trade for outstanding overseas earnings growth in the last three years.

The company’s largest overseas market is predominantly North America although it exports worldwide. It trades through specialist distributors and has recently appointed distributors in several new markets: India, the
UAE and Singapore.

JDR Cable Systems Ltd produces infrastructure products and aftermarket services for subsea oil, gas and renewable energy production.

A 2010 Award holder for International Trade, it wins a further Queen’s Award for International Trade, having grown overseas earnings by 248% in the last three years.

The company now exports 87% of its turnover which is significantly greater than the average for its sector. Geographic markets extend from the established North Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Asia Pacific to new markets of West Africa, Middle East and Germany, the latter now its largest export market representing 20% of export sales.