Cambridge Spark Announces Digital & AI Excellence Awards 2024 Winners

We are incredibly excited to be able to announce the results of the 2024 Cambridge Spark Digital & AI Excellence Awards. 

Choosing the winners of each of the 9 categories was no easy feat for our judges. The data talent that is emerging is truly outstanding and the data projects that are underway are nothing short of inspiring. 

Our nominees have showcased impressive data skills and are driving major impact throughout not only their organisations but their wider communities too.

Our winners’ achievements are a tribute to their steadfast dedication and hard work. Here are this year’s award categories and the winner of each:

Knowledge Base Contributor of the Year

This award is for an individual who has showcased leadership skills through their peer network, in addition to their advancements within their own apprenticeship journey.

It is also for an individual who has consistently engaged on Knowledge Base, the peer learning community at Cambridge Spark, providing responses that were embraced by their peers for their comprehensive understanding and thoroughness.

Martyn Staddon-1Winner: Martyn Staddon, Patient & Staff Experience Data Insight Manager, United Lincolnshire Hospitals Foundation NHS Trust.

Martyn contributed to Knowledge Base in ways like helping peers troubleshoot their code, actively participating in discussions around problems and assignments, and illuminating new approaches and ways of understanding the curriculum.

Martyn’s line manager said: Martyn has established himself as the ‘go to’ person for all things patient experience data related within our Trust. 

He is approachable, engaging and respectful; he meets and works with staff from across all roles and levels within the organisation and commands respect through his knowledge and approach; to say nothing of his dry sense of humour! 

He has met and supported very junior staff and students as well as executive colleagues both clinical and non-clinical demonstrating his reach and ability to engage.”

Data For Social Good

This award recognises people who have done exceptional work in organising voluntary activities related to data. This includes leading projects or events in their community or online, giving talks, and volunteering in ways that aim to help as many people in the most impactful way as possible.

Teniola Salisu-1Winner: Teniola Salisu, Senior Data Analyst, Med Shr

Teniola Salisu led the data analysis for a successful project that won an award for bringing mobile medical education to countries with low and medium incomes. 

This programme used real-life examples to teach healthcare workers how to identify and treat high blood pressure, diabetes, heart failure, and high cholesterol. The goal was to lower hospital visits and early deaths. 

Teniola used her advanced skills to examine complicated data sets, offering useful findings and detailed reports for the project. She also provided expert advice on how to share this information through various online platforms.

The project received a gold award at the PM Society Digital Awards. The judges praised the team's innovative work and their effective use of data to make a difference.

Data Saves Lives

This award honours individuals who have made significant contributions to healthcare, medical research, or public health through the use of data-driven methods. 

It celebrates those who have employed data to better patient care, advance medical science, and improve health results, showcasing the remarkable power of data in saving and improving lives.

Rishi Ramessaur-1Winner: Rishi Ramessur, Digital and Clinical AI Fellow / Ophthalmology Resident, Moorfields Eye Hospital

Rishi's analysis of cataract surgeries at Moorfields Eye Hospital has provided vital insights into their safety and efficacy. His work has revealed the impact of factors like ethnicity on risk levels and showing that topical anaesthesia reduces complications by 21% compared to SubTenon's anaesthesia. 

His involvement in developing a natural language processing tool also promises to streamline clinical paperwork. 

Additionally, Rishi's efforts to reduce carbon emissions in emergency eye care have been highlighted at national healthcare conferences, underscoring his adeptness in data analysis and collaboration across fields. 

This work has not only facilitated funding for improvements but also pioneered research in video consultations within Moorfields' Emergency Department. 

His findings indicate substantial environmental and health advantages, including significant travel reductions and carbon savings. Advocating for remote ophthalmic care pathways could broaden access to specialist care while minimising the environmental impact of healthcare services.

RECOMMENDED READING: Eye Doctor Identifies Patient Savings of 88,841 km Travelled, 7,500 kg CO₂  Emissions

Data-Driven Retail Solutions

This award recognises individuals who have used data analytics, artificial intelligence, and cutting-edge technologies to transform the retail sector. It highlights efforts that apply data to improve customer experiences, streamline supply chains, increase sales, and contribute to the overall success of the retail industry.

Robert Franklin-1Winner: Robert Franklin, Senior Data Scientist, Walgreens Boots Alliance

Robert led the development of the UK’s first public facing generative AI chatbot dealing with both retail and healthcare enquiries. 

The chatbot was able to not only help customers find suitable products from the retailer but also draw on the curated healthcare advice within Boots to answer healthcare questions. 

Managing healthcare inquiries through a chatbot is complex and carries risks, as inaccuracies can lead to serious consequences. Hence, ensuring the reliability and safety of the advice given is paramount. 

The key to the chatbot's success lies in its innovative approach to using language models. The chatbot combines large language models with the retailer’s own data, ensuring the information provided is both safe and suitable for UK customers' needs. 

This strategy ensures that the chatbot delivers accurate, relevant, and tailored advice, setting a new standard in healthcare customer service.

Revolutionising Business Through Digital Transformation

This award recognises an exceptional individual who has made significant contributions to the development of impactful and innovative digital solutions within their team and organisation. 

This could include introducing new digital tools, systems, and processes, enhancing digital fluency within their team, or playing a crucial role in the execution of a digital transformation roadmap.

David Kimani-1Winner: David Kimani, Life Cycle Engineer, Rolls Royce

David significantly influenced the development of innovative digital strategies at Rolls Royce, notably redesigning data processing systems to streamline a once laborious 6-month reporting cycle into a single day. 

This efficiency leap has enhanced decision-making and operational agility.

In his tenure, David has also introduced advanced data models which are improving engineering tasks and optimising workflows. 

His work in applying machine learning for predictive analytics in aviation engine systems stands out also, offering a proactive approach to maintenance and potentially saving billions in service costs.

By integrating diverse data into a comprehensive analytics dashboard, he has provided deep insights into product performance and customer behaviour. 

Beyond technological upgrades, David has championed a culture of innovation, knowledge sharing, and continuous learning within Rolls Royce Plc, promoting modern technologies like Docker and Kubernetes to upskill teams.

Future Digital Leader of the Year

This award recognises a Cambridge Spark learner or achiever who has shown exceptional dedication and success in their field. Their work is distinguished by its quality and professionalism, making them a standout performer in digital and AI within their organisation. They exemplify the high standards required of a future leader in the digital realm.

Rishi Ramessaur-1Winner: Rishi Ramessur, Digital and Clinical AI Fellow / Ophthalmology Resident, Moorfields Eye Hospital

Not only did Rishi win this year’s ‘Data Saves Lives’ award but he has also been recognised as ‘Future Digital Leader of the Year’! 

Rishi has been an exceptional leader, guiding his teams to blend technology seamlessly with healthcare. His work in implementing a natural language processing (NLP) tool for clinical reviews showcases his talent in motivating and enhancing his team's capabilities. 

He's fostered a culture of ongoing learning and teamwork, pushing his team towards adopting new technologies and digital innovations. Beyond team management, Rishi has led important research, including a national study on how people interact with AI in remote eye care and developing AI-assisted referral systems for eye diseases. 

His ability to work effectively across different groups has been evident in his partnerships with industry vendors and NHS personnel, especially in creating advanced tools for improving clinical audits and automating patient referrals.

Data Citizen Apprentice of the Year

This award recognises a Level 3 Data Citizen Apprentice who has enhanced their data fluency, leading to increased productivity and a significant impact on their organisation. 

The apprentice may have streamlined processes for themselves and others, used data storytelling for informed decision-making, or demonstrated the benefits of data use within their company. 

Eligible participants include those in the standard Data Citizen programme, as well as those specialising in Data-Driven Journalism, People Analytics Pathway, and NHS Data Citizen programmes.

Joel Milner-1Winner: Joel Milner, ADHD Screener, Wirral Community Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust

Joel, a key member of the neurodevelopmental team, has significantly contributed to improving service efficiency and support for families and schools by analysing referral patterns and identifying high-referral schools. This analysis led to targeted resource allocation. 

He also identified inefficiencies in the QB test for children under seven, which is a computerised assessment used primarily to help diagnose ADHD and other attention-related conditions. 

This prompted the adoption of a more effective and cost-efficient assessment method, saving the trust money. 

Joel's data collection on waiting times and pathway efficiency has been crucial, leading to professional and impactful presentations to senior trust professionals. 

This work may result in additional funding to further enhance service pathways, ensuring quicker, more supportive assessments for children.

Data Analyst Apprentice of the Year

This award celebrates a Level 4 Data Analyst Apprentice who has effectively used key skills acquired during their apprenticeship, such as Python, SQL, and Power BI, to make a significant contribution within their organisation. 

The chosen candidate actively promoted the use of data analysis in their workplace and demonstrated creative uses of data to benefit both their organisation and their team.

Louise Parkinson-1Winner: Lousie Parkinson, Data Business Analyst, Pets at Home

Louise, a member of the Pets at Home Data Team, leveraged her apprenticeship knowledge and passion for data to enhance the use of JIRA for portfolio reporting. She saved 2-4 hours weekly in data preparation for senior executives. 

She collaborated with the data engineering team to integrate JIRA data into Big Query and worked with data warehouse colleagues to transform this data, providing insights into project statuses and strategic goals. 

Her efforts have led to a 50% improvement in delivery data quality. Additionally, Louise has excelled in gathering data requirements, reducing request triage time significantly, and supports fellow apprentices by sharing knowledge and resources.

AI & Data Science Apprentice of the Year

This award recognises a Level 7 AI and Data Science Apprentice who has made significant advancements in data science, machine learning, and AI within their organisation.

Ideal candidates would have notably enhanced their employer's advanced data capabilities and actively promoted data and AI throughout their team and the wider organisation.

Aman Birring-1Winner: Aman Birring, Senior Data Scientist, Superdrug Stores

Aman Birring, a data scientist at Superdrug Stores plc, has significantly enhanced the company's analytics capabilities by developing a time series forecasting model.

This model has improved supply chain management, aided in store location decisions, and supported promotional planning, leading to the opening of 20 profitable new stores. 

Aman also transitioned the team to Azure Databricks, doubling project delivery efficiency and contributing to a 25% revenue increase in 2023, with a further increase forecasted for 2024. 

He leads weekly training sessions, enriching the team's skills in big data and coding, and setting a standard for professionalism and continuous learning. 

Aman's initiatives have positioned him as a role model and his continued innovations are eagerly anticipated.


We extend our warmest congratulations once again to all the winners and the nominees of this year's Digital & AI Excellence Awards! We eagerly anticipate your incredible achievements in the upcoming year.

Additionally, a big thank you to our panel of judges for your dedication and careful consideration during the selection process, and to our partners HDR UK, BRC Learning & AnalystX for your support.

If you are interested in upskilling yourself or your team in data and AI, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via the form below. You could be a Digital & AI Excellence Awards winner too!

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