"The commitment from every team member in respect to the urgency of the Covid response was far beyond anything I’ve experienced"
The UK IT Awards, the industry's most glamorous night of the year, saw 33 outstanding winners crowned from across the tech sector.
Zuhlke UK, a branch of Switzerland's Zuhlke, took home the gong for Development Team of the Year, impressing the judges with its work on the NHS Covid-19 App.
Neil Moorcroft, MD of customer solutions at Zuhlke, said the firm will continue its work with medical devices and software in the future, as well as looking to other areas where technology can assist, like the climate crisis.
What did you think of the UK IT Awards event itself?
It was a great night and fantastic to see so many people in our industry being recognised for the amazing work they do. For our team, and I'm sure many others there, it was especially good to get out and celebrate after Covid. It was also a great way to see the progress being made across the whole industry - there are so many interesting projects to learn about and brilliant people to talk to.
How did you feel when you heard that your entry had won?
Incredibly proud of the entire team! Not everyone could make it on the night, so we were updating everyone else in our team chats in real time. When the announcement came that we'd won, the celebrating wasn't limited to the people in the room! It's been a long, intense project, and this recognition from such respected peers was thrilling for everyone.
What do you think made your entry, building the NHS Covid-19 App, stand out?
I think it was a combination of the speed and quality of our delivery, and the innovations in technology and approach that came together to deliver a real impact to the lives of ordinary people in England and Wales. The commitment from every team member in respect to the urgency of the Covid response was far beyond anything I've experienced, and that combined with the life-saving nature of the work made this a career-defining project for everyone involved.
I also think the judges were impressed with our inclusive approach to research and design. The App needed to be used be the widest possible cross-section of society to be effective, so it was vital that we embedded research from broad user groups with a wide range of needs and disabilities into the delivery process from day one.
And of course, the technical achievements of the team also stood out: Data science research, leading to new algorithms that greatly improved the exposure accuracy; 100 per cent serverless cloud architecture that enabled vast scalability at a fraction of traditional costs; and anonymous data collection from millions of devices, allowing the pandemic to be tracked faster than via any other means.
What does the win mean for you and your team, and your organisation?
Celebrating success is something we try to do as often as possible, and the external recognition of that success is hugely beneficial to the morale not only of the Covid App team, but the whole Zuhlke organisation. It also helps us attract the best people to our growing team, enabling us build on the success and develop our business here in the UK.
The award also validates our belief that innovations in advanced technology can be a powerful force for good in society. It confirms that those values are recognised by the wider industry and reinforces our drive to deliver projects with purpose - not only by helping save lives with medical apps like this, but also by helping to prevent the climate crisis or improving digital services for everyone in the UK.
What does the future hold for Zuhlke?
We will be continuing to expand our offering portfolio to address today's market needs, such as medical devices built entirely in software, economic architectures for decarbonisation, digital services for the citizen and enabling organisations to get timely insight from their data.
At the same time, we want to focus on advancing our delivery practices and investing in further developing the skills and capabilities of our staff, particularly in building cloud-based infrastructures, data engineering and machine learning, SecOps and our expanding digital consulting practice.
We've also joined TechZero - the climate action group for tech companies - so we'll be delivering on our commitment to reduce our carbon footprint to zero by the end of next year. And we'll also be expanding our geographic reach by opening a third office outside our current locations in London and Manchester.