Belfast Telegraph

Expert judges prepare to adjudicate in inaugural Belfast Telegraph IT awards

Meet the first four of our esteemed panel waiting to see what our leading individuals and businesses have to offer

At the launch are (left) Dr Karen Rafferty QUB, Peter Guzhar from sponsors Carson McDowell, and Margaret Canning, Business Editor Belfast Telegraph
At the launch are (left) Dr Karen Rafferty QUB, Peter Guzhar from sponsors Carson McDowell, and Margaret Canning, Business Editor Belfast Telegraph

Last month, we were proud to announce the launch of our inaugural Belfast Telegraph IT Awards, proudly supported by Carson McDowell.

With 13 individual categories available for entry, we have a panel of expert judges ready and waiting to see what NI's IT individuals and businesses have to offer.

This week, we meet our first four judges.

Professor Karen Rafferty: Head of the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Professor Rafferty leads research and education activities that involve nearly 100 academics and over 2,000 students at Queen's University.

She has over 15 years' experience within the fields of software engineering, sensor fusion and real-time software development and over 10 years' experience working within the areas of virtual and augmented reality and multi sensorial systems.

Professor Rafferty's research encompasses the use of application, tools and technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality, to positively disruptive practices and systems.

"I am really honoured to lead the judging panel for the IT awards and really excited to see the range of applications we receive," she said.

"This is a brilliant initiative and one that is timely and important for Northern Ireland in terms of recognising all the achievements of our local industrial network."

George McKinney: Director of technology and services, Invest NI

Mr McKinney's career started courtesy of a sponsorship from Michelin Tyres that led to a masters degree in engineering. After eight years with Michelin, he moved to work in the design and print industry for 12 years, rising to become managing director of a full service marketing communications business.

Following a management buy-out, Mr McKinney moved into the ICT sector for two years before joining Invest NI in 2004 as a regional manager. He has occupied a series of roles at the economic support body and most recently was named director of technology and services in March 2019. He also holds an MBA.

Noel Brady: Managing director, Nb1 Ltd

A long serving member of the ICT sector in NI, Mr Brady has held senior public and private senior roles in CFM Group, Fujitsu and Sx3. He's now celebrating his 15th year as managing director of his own company Nb1, which provides services to all sectors.

Nb1 has assisted companies win tenders ranging from £30,000 to £350m. Mr McKinney is on record stating that writing tenders is an "art form" and that it is "one of his favourite things to do".

Mr McKinney is also joint-chair of the ICT Digital Services Forum, set up by CPD to review and plan for future digital projects planned for the Northern Ireland public sector.

He said: "The ICT industry is extremely important to the economy, reputation and future of Northern Ireland. These awards will allow us to celebrate the achievements of our world-class people, companies and solutions involved in this space.

"This is an industry which should be singled out. As a 35-year veteran I'm honoured to be a judge."

Allen Martin: Partner, Kernel Capital

Mr Martin is a partner with Kernel Capital, one of the largest and most active sources of equity finance for technology companies in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

He is a qualified chartered accountant, corporate finance and investment professional and an experienced board director, with extensive skills across leadership, finance, fundraising, strategy, and governance. Mr Martin joined the Kernel Capital team in 2014 from Invest NI, where he was an executive within Invest NI's corporate finance division, responsible for leading and project managing key elements of Invest NI's access to capital strategy.

Mr Martin's earlier career involved corporate finance roles with Ulster Bank a Grant Thornton. He holds a diploma in company direction (IOD).

IT Awards categories


Best ‘Not for Profit’ Sector IT Project of the Year

Best Use of Cloud Services

Cyber Security Project of the Year

Digital Project of the Year

Mobile App of the Year


IT Professional of the Year

Young IT Professional of the Year

Best Place to Work in IT

IT Project Team of the Year

IT Team of the Year

Small IT Team of the Year

Small Supplier of the Year

IT Woman of the Year

To purchase tickets to the event, click here

To enter the IT Awards, click here