This extraordinary event promises an evening of glitz, glamour, and a celebration of the remarkable individuals who embody the spirit of Manchester
Among the many accolades to be presented, one stands out in particular—the I Love MCR Innovator of the Year award.
This award spotlights individuals and groups whose groundbreaking contributions have left a mark on the city’s landscape, pushing boundaries, and reshaping the future of Manchester.
As we introduce you to the remarkable nominees for this award, you’ll discover the stories of visionaries, advocates, creators, and entrepreneurs who have made extraordinary strides in their respective fields.
The nominees include Catalina Ionita, an architect committed to transforming the city’s skyline; Cladiators, a volunteer group championing safety in residential buildings; Brood Magazine, a publication empowering parents to pursue their dreams; Grace Ubawuchi, a visionary behind the revolutionary concept of “Sorbet Cocktails”; Ian Waring, the creator of Manchester’s spine-tingling Ghost Walk; Lee Chambers, a psychologist and male ally advocating for equality; Stephen Hobson, a customer relationship expert joining Apex Computing Services; and Tap Donate, a groundbreaking platform facilitating contactless donations for charitable causes.
Each of these nominees embodies the essence of innovation, pushing the boundaries of what is possible and striving to create a better, more inclusive, and dynamic Manchester.
Their stories serve as a testament to the city’s ever-evolving spirit and its commitment to fostering growth, progress, and community engagement.
Catalina Ionita, Chapman Taylor
Catalina Ionita is a dedicated architect who joined the Manchester studio of Chapman Taylor in 2021, where she plays a crucial role in the Feasibility team.
She is renowned for her commitment to successful placemaking, which shines through in her work in the residential and mixed-use sectors.
With a comprehensive portfolio, Catalina boasts extensive experience in a wide array of projects spanning all work stages.
Her expertise encompasses large residential developments, master plans, office designs, and the restoration of listed buildings.
Beyond her professional roles, Catalina also contributes to academia.
he dedicates one day a week to teaching at Sheffield Hallam University, where she is concurrently pursuing a PhD with a specific focus on art-centred place-making.
Her dedication to research extends to ethics and sustainability in architecture, earning her a spot on RIBA’s Rising Stars shortlist in 2020.
Notably, Catalina has taken up the role of a committee member for Women in Property North West, where she actively contributes as an Inclusion Champion.
Cladiators is a volunteer group representing the residents of buildings across Greater Manchester facing the dire situation of dangerous cladding systems and severe internal fire safety concerns.
Their mission is clear: to ensure the safety of their homes, all without imposing any financial burden on the residents themselves.
The genesis of Cladiators traces back to the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June 2017.
Approximately 350 residents residing in the Green Quarter of Manchester discovered that their homes were encased in unsafe Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding.
A significant legal battle ensued, with the freeholder successfully arguing that the residents were obligated under the terms of their lease to bear the costs of cladding replacement and other essential fire safety upgrades.
This financial burden amounted to a staggering £7 million, translating to an astounding £20,000 per apartment.
The residents also had to shoulder the costs of waking watch services and even had to raise an additional £12,000 to defend their rights in the Tribunal.
These financial pressures were nothing short of life-changing. However, the Green Quarter residents took action, launching an intelligent campaign that drew the attention of the previous developer, Lendlease.
After months of tireless efforts, they successfully persuaded Lendlease to fully fund the remediation works in February 2019.
In light of this, residents from other nearby buildings approached the Green Quarter residents for assistance. It quickly became apparent that each building faced unique circumstances, making it unlikely for them to secure the same deal as the Green Quarter.
While the government urged freeholders and developers to “do the right thing” and cover the costs, the Green Quarter residents took a different approach. They united with fellow residents to launch a campaign urging the government to provide funding for these necessary expenses.
Brood Magazine is a unique publication tailored for busy professionals and entrepreneurs.
It caters to parents who are relentlessly pursuing their dreams while adeptly juggling their parental responsibilities at home.
This magazine speaks to those transitioning from the role of a parent on the school run to being fully engaged in meetings and work commitments, seizing every kid-free moment to chase their goals.
It’s a platform for individuals striving to show their children that they can pursue their dreams and convert them into concrete goals, all while maintaining a sense of style both at home and in their attire, despite having children.
Brood Magazine addresses the challenges of managing texts, social life, work life, parent life, housework, exercise, and personal time. It’s a resource for anyone seeking balance in our modern world to the best of their ability.
Grace Ubawuchi, Founder of Xin and Voltaire
Grace Ubawuchi is the visionary founder behind Xin and Voltaire, a Maison de Glacé that specialises in crafting “Sorbet Cocktails.”
Her work in the alcohol industry is revolutionising the way we experience and savour alcoholic beverages.
Grace’s mission is to elevate alcohol beyond its liquid state, creating an entirely new sensorial experience.
Xin and Voltaire, established in 2017, is at the forefront of this innovative movement.
Grace’s desire for heightened sensorial experiences led her to seek the perfect fusion of cocktails and desserts.
She was determined not to compromise and wanted to enjoy her cocktail in a wholly unique way.
With this unwavering commitment, she embarked on a journey to redefine the boundaries between food and drink, giving birth to Xin and Voltaire’s sorbet cocktails.
To bring art and alchemy into this endeavour, Grace collaborated closely with Nina Metayer, an acclaimed Parisian chef with a multitude of awards.
Nina’s expertise in French cuisine and pastry brought exceptional flavours and textures to Xin and Voltaire’s cocktail sorbets, setting them apart from any other alcoholic sorbets.
Achieving this breakthrough required two years of relentless effort by Grace to discover the right food technology and processes to freeze alcohol at high ABVs.
After countless iterations, they achieved the remarkable feat of freezing alcohol while preserving its potency.
Xin and Voltaire’s cocktail sorbets are a testament to their dedication to pushing the boundaries.
Ian Waring, Founder of Flecky Bennett’s Manchester Ghost Walk
Ian Waring, the founder of Flecky Bennett’s Manchester Ghost Walk, has transformed tales of the supernatural into a thriving business.
His ghost walk takes participants on a spine-tingling journey through the eerie history of Manchester’s streets and passageways.
Ian, an actor by trade, created the character Flecky Bennett, which he portrays while guiding sightseers through the city’s darker side.
His journey into the world of acting was inspired by a performance he witnessed 15 years ago at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre, propelling him into a career filled with intrigue and the supernatural.
Currently, Ian is expanding his ghost walk to London and even exploring the possibility of a book and a US franchise.
Lee Chambers is a distinguished British psychologist, entrepreneur, male ally, and speaker.
He stands as the founder of PhenomGames and Essentialise Workplace Wellbeing.
His remarkable contributions have earned him induction as a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences in 2023.
Lee is widely recognised for his insights into the psychological aspects of workplaces, wellbeing, and intersectionality.
He has been featured in prestigious publications such as Vogue, The Guardian, and Newsweek.
His expertise extends to analysing the unique challenges and opportunities that come with workplace dynamics.
Lee is a prominent voice in the realm of male allyship and gender equity, and he has received notable recognition for his work. In 2022, he was honoured as a Marie Claire Future Shaper alongside luminaries like Harry Styles and Tom Daley.
Additionally, he was inducted into the Black Cultural Archives in 2022 for his outstanding contributions to business and health.
Lee’s insights are highly regarded by trusted publications including Medical News Today, the BBC, and Healthline.
He also featured as an expert in IKEA’s docuseries, “It won’t feel like home, ’til it feels like you.”
His achievements include winning the Professional Service Startup of the Year at the National Startup Awards and being awarded the Service Entrepreneur of the Year at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards.
He was also named an Exceptional Entrepreneur by the Startups 100 Index and recognised as a Man for Gender Balance at the Rising Star Awards.
Lee Chambers is based in the North West but has a global impact. His passion encompasses conscious leadership, promoting equality of health opportunities, and raising awareness about menopause.
Stephen Hobson, Senior Customer Relationship Manager at Apex Computing Services
Meet Stephen Hobson, a remarkable professional who embodies the spirit of the Manchester Innovator of the Year Award.
With unwavering dedication, Stephen has become a driving force in Manchester’s business landscape.
Stephen’s passion for Manchester is palpable. He’s not just another worker; he’s a dynamic force of energy dedicated to the city’s growth and success.
As a mentor, Stephen has played a pivotal role in guiding and mentoring young talents, helping them launch their careers.
He believes in collaboration over competition, and his knack for connecting people and businesses has led to countless fruitful partnerships.
One shining example of his impact is Harvey Brennan, who transitioned from an apprentice to a freelance digital marketer, thanks to Stephen’s support and introductions.
Stephen actively introduces Manchester brands to talented individuals, fostering growth and collaboration.
In every sense, Stephen is the embodiment of the Manchester Worker Bee.
His selflessness, dedication, and impact on the city’s business community make him an icon, making a real difference.
In an era where cash usage continues to dwindle and contactless forms of payment are on the rise, Tap Donate emerges as an innovative solution.
This platform facilitates contactless payments for charities, offering a seamless, secure, and efficient means of collecting donations.
The Tap Donate platform was conceived to address the pressing needs faced by charities, non-profits, and similar organisations.
With the shift from cash to contactless payments, some organisations found themselves struggling to adapt to the technological changes sweeping through the industry.
Tap Donate was established to bridge this gap, helping organisations that were hesitant or unsure about embracing technology for donation collection.
The platform features an easy-to-use interface complemented by a dedicated online portal.
This portal provides real-time access to essential donation information, enabling organisations to track contributions daily, weekly, monthly, or annually without the need for additional staff or time-consuming email exchanges.
Since its inception in 2017, Tap Donate’s mission has remained clear: to simplify the process of collecting card payments for charitable organisations.
Their bespoke software caters to a wide range of organisations, including religious groups, charities, non-profits, fundraisers, museums, and galleries.
Tap Donate is committed to helping these organisations fundraise more effectively and efficiently, all while adhering to the latest health and safety guidelines.
The platform’s dedication to conscious leadership, health equality, and menopause awareness underscores its commitment to making the world a better place through technology-driven solutions.
In a city brimming with talent and innovation, these exceptional individuals and groups are the shining stars of Manchester.
Each nominee embodies the essence of progress, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, and actively contributing to Manchester’s vibrant landscape.
As we celebrate their remarkable achievements, we are reminded that the heart of Manchester beats stronger than ever.
Through dedication, collaboration, and innovation, they continue to shape a future where Manchester shines even brighter.
This is an inclusive event and it’s because of their support, we’re able to offer complimentary tickets to charities, community groups, disabled people and carers who may not otherwise be able to afford to attend.