This is how we celebrate innovation champions

15 December, 2021
This is how we celebrate innovation champions | News | Pause Awards
Nikita Lamba, writer contributor
Nikita Lamba
15 December, 2021

The 2021 Pause Awards Night may have concluded months ago, but we’re still reeling high from that unforgettable evening.

And while some of you were there to share that experience, some of you missed out – but fret not – we’ve got the lowdown on the night, ready for recap.

In anticipation of this year’s celebrations, we thought it’d be best to run through the highlights of last year.

We’re so proud of the community we’re building, and it’s amazing to see the standard of innovation coming out of Australian businesses year after year. Pause Awards 2021 met some extraordinary milestones that show just how strong the Australian startup ecosystem is growing to become. We had our first ever quadruple award winner with Mr Yum getting the massive recognition they deserve, Ovira and Heaps Normal both managed to win three awards each, and there were six more companies that went home with double awards. Talk about having your hands full!

Pause Awards 2021 event hosts and MCs
Pause Awards 2021 MC's Jeanette Cheah and Garry Williams

In addition to all of that, 2021 saw a mighty 167 entries, almost double that of the previous year, judged by 45 judges in round one, with 5 judges in the finals. These judges were experts in their field, and the decisions were driven by a judging board, including a chair, to ensure utmost fairness to nominees. This board included Lee Tonitto (Managing Director, Tonitto and Partners), Sonia Clarke (Director, Future of Work, PwC), Tom Leyden (Global Leader of IT, Woods Bagot), Christina Gerakiteys (Co-CEO, SingularityU Australia), and Ben Ford (Head of Growth, Frollo). And for the stellar job that they did, we’ve decided to bring them on for 2022 as well!

Coming to the company make-up that we witnessed at the awards last year – we nearly had an even gender split, with 59% being male and 41% being female. The average founder age was 37 and the average funding raised by our entrants was a whopping $17M. The top 5 industries of our entrants represented were computer tech (software), financial services, food & beverages, consumer goods, and education.

“Pause Awards is such a great celebration of entrepreneurship, creativity and business right here in Australia. We’re just really proud to be a part of it.”

David McLaughlin, Bodd Technologies

Presented by OVHcloud, our Hall of Fame award for 2021 was awarded to Prof. Martin Green. Prof. Green and his team created the solar energy cells that power nearly three-quarters of solar panels around the world today. So needless to say, this one was bound to happen.

Pause Awards 2021 at Bobby Mc'Gees

Our last edition also witnessed the world’s first ever NFT certifications! These trophies were awarded to all 8 GRAND PRIX winners, with an option to purchase physical ones too. These beauties were created by 3D Artist Mohamed Bacosil, and were minted on Open Sea to hold future value for the winners. Designed by George Hedon and produced by United Make, the physical trophies for 2021 were moulded from fine grain eco-friendly concrete and came in charcoal, white, and grey, depending on which award was won.

As illustrious as all of this was, we can’t not talk about the venue where the show went down – the enthralling Miami tropical atmosphere of Bobby McGees – which saw finalists come together for a night of connection, comradery and some healthy competition, with 63 winners walking away crowned supreme from the evening.

The awards night could not have been made possible without the support of our major partners VicGov, Awards Night sponsor Blackmagic Design, and our Ecosystem Partner MYOB.

Networking at Pause Awards 2021

We’re thrilled to be bringing you the 2022 edition of Pause Awards soon, and you best believe we’ll be stepping out, all guns blazing.

For a full list of all our very worthy and amazing category recipients from the night, click here.

To be the first to know when voting and sponsorship opportunities are available for this year, sign up to our newsletter.

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Category tracks

The Culture track seeks entries that exemplify the development of an inclusive and collaborative workplace culture, crucial for organisational success and growth. Submissions should illustrate transformative strategies implemented across core business functions, reflecting expertise, leadership, and a clear vision. These strategies should demonstrate a positive impact on the business, its employees, stakeholders, and customers, showcasing how a nurturing culture contributes to overall growth and innovation.

The Excellence track celebrates businesses that have demonstrated remarkable success and impact within their industry, regardless of their size. Entries for this category should illustrate how the business's strategic execution, guided by visionary leadership and exceptional expertise, has significantly influenced the industry. The focus will be on the tangible outcomes of these strategies, highlighting the company's ability to innovate, lead, and leave a lasting impression in its field.

The Good track is focused on recognising companies dedicated to their mission of creating a positive societal impact. Entries should highlight innovative solutions aimed at addressing global challenges such as environmental sustainability, social equity, and community well-being. Successful submissions will demonstrate how their initiatives contribute to significant changes, tackling issues like gender inequality, social imbalance, and injustice, thereby setting a precedent for responsible and impactful business practices.

Awarded to a single entry in a category, Grand Prix is the top accolade in that category. To win the Grand Prix, the entire Judging Board must unanimously agree that the entry deserves the accolade of being the best in that category.

The Growth track is about showcasing how businesses have enhanced productivity and execution to make a significant impact in their market. Entries should highlight innovative strategies that have optimised the customer journey, leading to increased engagement and commercial success. This track is for those who have effectively used their understanding of the market and customer needs to scale their business and achieve notable growth.

The Operators track seeks entries that showcase leadership in fostering innovation within their ecosystems. Ideal submissions will highlight how your initiatives have catalysed the creation of new products or services, bolstered by a culture that uplifts internal teams and the wider community. This track celebrates those who drive progress by empowering voices and forging transformative connections in their industry.


  • Always Evolving New

    Acknowledges a culture of continuous learning and improvement within a company, encourages employee development, and always looks for ways to optimise and innovate operations.

  • Big & Mighty Culture New

    Recognises companies (51-1000 employees) for their exceptional efforts in cultivating a culture that champions innovation.

  • Diverse Co.

    Celebrates workplaces dedicated to fostering innovation through a vibrant tapestry of diverse talents and perspectives.

  • Small & Mighty Culture New

    Applauds small teams of fewer than 50 employees for their remarkable ability to foster innovation and set new benchmarks in their domain.

  • Work Sweet Work

    Acknowledges companies that have achieved extraordinary employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention, creating an exemplary workplace culture.

  • Company of the Year

    Honours an outstanding company that not only showcases exemplary leadership and resilience but also demonstrates a clear, quantifiable impact over the past year.

  • Customer Obsessed New

    Applauds prioritisation, understanding and meeting the needs and expectations of their customers, including feedback, personalised services and ensuring high satisfaction.

  • Defiant Ones

    Recognises firms that lead technological innovation, setting new standards and defining the future of their industries.

  • Hammer

    Celebrates companies that have not only defined success on their own terms but have also concretely demonstrated their triumphs over the past year.

  • I Wish I'd Done That

    Applauds ingenious, simple solutions in niche markets that spark a universal sentiment of admiration.

  • On the Rise

    Celebrates early-stage startups, under 4 years, that have shown remarkable progress and success in their initial years.

  • Prodigy

    Recognises young visionaries under 30 with outstanding talents and achievements, setting them apart in their fields.

  • Singularity

    Highlights AI-driven companies that are pioneering new services or integrating AI to create innovative products.

  • Women in Business

    Celebrates female entrepreneurs and leaders who are forging paths for future generations by creating more equitable opportunities.

  • B-Good

    Recognises businesses that redefine commercial success by positively transforming our economic system for the benefit of all stakeholders.

  • Circular Pioneer

    Celebrates companies at the forefront of circular economy practices, making substantial and sustainable differences.

  • Ethical Leadership New

    Commends companies exemplifying leadership in environmental and social governance, setting standards in corporate responsibility and ethical practices.

  • Going Green

    Acknowledges companies leading large-scale sustainable initiatives, addressing critical areas like clean energy and environmental justice.

  • Collab New

    Honours strategic partnerships and alliances with other businesses to leverage complementary strengths, access new markets, and share resources for synergistic growth and innovation.

  • Design First

    Celebrates companies where design is the heartbeat of innovation, engaging the whole team in crafting groundbreaking products.

  • Going Global New

    Applauds companies that have expanded their reach globally, showcasing exceptional growth and international success.

  • Great Pivot

    Acknowledges companies that adeptly navigate change, leveraging insights to pivot towards delivering outstanding products.

  • Movement

    Recognises unforgettable event experiences that resonate emotionally, drive social change, or achieve viral status.

  • New Model

    Honours businesses revolutionising markets with elegant and disruptive business models.

  • Next Level New

    Applauds companies which had successful strategic acquisition and integration of another entity, staff or an asset that allowed them to further grow and scale their services.

  • Wildfire

    Celebrates companies that have rapidly and significantly impacted their marketplace, online and offline, setting new standards for success.

  • Angel

    Honours visionary angel investors who've significantly contributed to early-stage startups, guiding them toward success.

  • C-Suite

    Recognises exceptional leadership qualities in high-ranking executives, showcasing their management and interpersonal excellence.

  • Creative Maverick New

    Honours unconventional thinkers with exceptional abilities to execute typically unimaginable initiatives, expertly coordinate teams, secure funding or successfully launch multiple ventures.

  • Ecosystem Star

    Celebrates individuals who energise and nurture their communities, fostering engagement and advocacy.

  • Future Builder

    Recognises the determination and resilience of founders who've embarked on the challenging journey of starting their own ventures.

  • Quiet Achiever New

    Applauds the unsung heroes whose behind-the-scenes efforts have led to flawless project executions and exceeded expectations.

  • Splash Down Under New

    Acknowledges international companies making a noteworthy entrance into the Australian market, enriching the local business ecosystem.

  • TopCoder

    Recognises developers for their outstanding technical skills, clean code, and collaborative spirit.

  • Venture Cap

    Salutes venture capital firms with a track record of backing transformative businesses, contributing significantly to Australia's economic growth.

  • Visionary New

    Recognises effective leadership by setting a clear vision, motivating the team, and making strategic decisions that guide their business towards its goals.

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