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Proof wins STEM category at CIPR Awards

by AprilSix Proof

On Wednesday, the Proof team experienced an all time first: winning CIPR’s inaugural STEM award. CIPR, or the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, is the professional body for public relations practitioners in the UK. It was founded in 1948 and is now the largest body of its type in Europe with over 10,000 members. The fact that the CIPR Awards now have a STEM category is another example of how communication is being increasingly recognised as a vital part of cementing the UK’s amazing strengths in reasearch and innovation.

Now, back to the evening of celebration and our client who made it all possible. After being nominated, the Proof team glammed up and headed to the ceremony with Solar Cloth Company (SCC), a Cambridge-based cleantech start up.

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We were up against a tough group of competitors including Hope & Glory, Kaizo, Pagefield, Albion Drive and Queen Margaret University. But in the end the judges were wowed by our campaign, where we helped SCC surpass its crowd funding target by 137%, securing more than £1m of investment and delivering a return on investment of 29,000%.

How it all began

SCC is rapidly becoming a leader in thin photovoltaics that can be integrated into buildings where traditional solar panels cannot be placed. To grow the business, it set up a crowdfunding campaign in October 2014, with a target of £750,000. After two weeks, the funding total was only £8,000. With just over a month remaining and 99% more funding to achieve, Proof was brought on board to create a PR campaign that would drive people to the company’s crowdfunding page to invest.

A recipe for success

We quickly immersed ourselves in the business and identified the elements of SCC that would resonate with potential investors, a group that invest in cutting edge technology companies who are doing good things for the planet. By uncovering what made SCC stand apart, Proof was able to quickly articulate the investment opportunity on offer. Specifically, we highlighted the award-winning science and technological innovation and SCC’s potential to succeed as a business in the renewable energy market.

Knock-out results

Publicity through a targeted programme of media relations, designed to reach communities that invest in STEM and renewables innovation, generated more than 50 pieces of coverage. The campaign delivered a considerable jump in crowdfunding that resulted in the company outshining its funding target by 137% and becoming the first Cambridge cleantech start-up to be valued at more than £5m. This included the largest single investment ever made on a UK crowdfunding website of £500,000, which was traced back to an article Proof placed in The Engineer.

The CIPR award judges recognised Proof’s ability to quickly understand the complex science and technology at the heart of SCC, clearly communicate its value to a niche market in a short timeframe and deliver commercial results.

Winning CIPR’s first award for excellence in STEM communication firmly places Proof at the top of the UK’s market for communicating complexity in the fields of science, engineering and technology and supports the fact that we are the country’s most successful agency in this growing sector.

It feels pretty good to go down in history, especially for our biggest passion of all, communicating STEM – now bring on next year!

To see our winning entry, please visit the CIPR website here.

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Also, check out a few pictures from the evening.

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The team on stage! From the left: Representative from BIS, Donald Hyndman (SCC), the night’s MC and comedian Shappi Khorsandi, Amita Hanspal (Proof), Jim Sutton (Proof), Michael Staplehurst (SCC), Jennifer Johnson (Proof), Mike Cheng (Proof)

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Some of the team thought they had transformed into Bond for the evening.