Digital Leaders 100 winners celebrate high above London

Written by Robin Knowles, CEO, Digital Leaders

Aqua Shard, high above London’s nighttime skyline last night was the stunning venue for the ninth running of the #DL100, the most prestigious digital leadership awards in the UK.

Hosted by technology journalist Rory Cellan-Jones, over 300 gathered to hear who, from the DL100 list 2021, are the 10 category winners and overall Digital Leader of the year. 

The evening was the conclusion of a five month process that saw 700 nominations, 20 judges, 23,000 votes and 100 finalists leading up to last night’s announcement of the top digital individuals and organisations from across the whole of the UK.

The Big prize of the night, Overall Winner of the DL100 and first place went to this year’s Young Digital Leader of the Year, Polly Morgan from the IDEA Foundation. 

The other big individual prize, Digital Leader of the Year went to another Polly, but this time, Polly Cook, CTO at Parkinson’s UK.

It was a big night for winners from across Government, with over half of the categories being won by public sector organisations. They included:

  • HM Land Registry for Geospatial Innovation of the Year 
  • Ordnance Survey for AI Innovation of the Year
  • Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) from Northern Ireland for Big Data Innovation of the Year
  • Salford City Council for Pandemic Digital Innovation of the Year
  • DEFRA and DfT and their Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU) won the COP26 Award; and  
  • Greater Manchester Combined Authority won for Digital Public Service Innovation; 

This year included a special £5,000 prize in memory of Craig Macdonald. The inaugural Craig MacDonald Memorial Prize was awarded to Knowledge Pool from Yorkshire.

There was also a Founders Award this year given to Paul Finnis, for his work setting up the Digital Poverty Alliance. The DPA is an Alliance of organisations tackling digital inequality across the UK are committed to living in a world which enables everyone to access the life changing benefits that digital brings. The DPA’s ambitious mission is to end digital poverty once and for all by 2030. 

This year’s list had a 50/50 gender split, recognising the diversity in digital transformation roles and the leading women across the industry. A figure not seen commonly on many industry lists. 

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were once again well represented in the list this year’s list reflecting the national reach of the Digital Leaders Community. 

Robin Knowles, CEO of Digital Leaders, commented: “It is really pleasing to see government teams and organisations winning some of the more innovative categories like AI, Big Data and Geospatial Innovation of the Year. We are also once again proud to see female role models in the DL100 with once again winning the top two individual categories.

Digital Leaders Director, Lucy Wakeford said ”As our first awards post covid we wanted to change up the traditional seated dinner and black-tie format so we reinvented it. Choosing a more dynamic cocktails and bowl food format with a temporary theatre space created for the awards and a venue, Aqua Shard, with its amazing night time views and atmosphere helped us to recreate the awards format into a whole new level of dynamic networking and celebration”

Paul Struthers, MD Sage UK&I and this year’s headline sponsors said: “The Digital Leaders 100 list 2021 once again highlights the progress of UK Plc in digitally transforming. This community of Digital Leaders have shone a light on the many hidden heroes, quietly getting on with the nation’s digital transformation. It is rewarding for Sage to see such a strong list from outside London this year and from organisations reflecting our own inclusive national programmes and the growing importance of digital transformation on companies irrespective of size or sector.

Find out more visit or follow #DL100 or #digileaders on Twitter

The full DL100 winners list by category is:

Overall Winner – No.1 in the DL100 2021
Polly Morgan, Programme Director, IDEA Foundation
Digital Leader of the Year
Polly Cook, Head of Transformation at Parkinson’s Connect
Young Digital Leader of the Year
Polly Morgan, Programme Director, IDEA Foundation
AI Innovation of the Year
Ordnance Survey for Sustainable Urban Development
Big Data Innovation of the Year
Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (NI) for Information Hub
Geospatial Innovation of the Year
HM Land Registry for Local Land Charges Registry.
Digital Public Service of the Year
Greater Manchester Combined Authority for Early Years Integrated Solutions
Digital SME of the YearFlash Academy
Skill or Talent Innovation of the Year
Digital Mums for Future Skills Workshop
Pandemic Digital Innovation of the Year
Salford City Council for Spirit of Salford
Health Tech Innovation of the YearTap S-O-S


Special category winners:

5G Innovation Award 2021
Liverpool 5G Create
DL Local Champion 2021
Midlands – Professor Katherine Royse, CDO, British Geological Society
Craig MacDonald Memorial Prize
Knowledge Pool
COP26 Award 2021
Government Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU)
Founders Award 2021
Paul Finnis, Founder Digital Poverty Alliance

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