The secret ingredients of a double award winner


When it comes to awards, the Queen’s Award for Enterprise is without doubt the UK’s highest accolade of business success. Tim Monks, chief executive of Third Dimension, reveals how the company won two of the prestigious awards in as many years.

Bristol-based Third Dimension has a lot to shout about. As well as designing GapGun, a laser measurement system, it’s just won its second Queen’s Award for Enterprise. Not bad for a company with 21 employees which lists blue chips, such as Airbus, Lockheed and Embraer among its customers.

Coveted by businesses across the UK, the Queen’s Award sets extremely high standards and is notoriously difficult to win. So how did Third Dimension manage to bag two awards in three years?

“Of course, I can only go on our own experience, but it strikes me the judges are looking for stable, ethical and environmentally-sound companies, with solid business practices,” explains Monks. “On top of that, you also need to be manufacturing an innovative product that is selling well internationally. If all these ingredients come into play, then you’re in with a shot at the Queen’s Award.”

Queen’s Award categories include: innovation; international trade; sustainable development and promoting opportunity through social mobility. The awards are made annually by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and are only given for the highest levels of excellence demonstrated in each category.

It was sales – and more specially exports – that won Third Dimension its first Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the International Trade category back in 2015.

The figures speak for themselves. GapGuns are sold in over 25 countries worldwide thanks to Third Dimension’s global distribution network. The company has increased turnover by 50% in the past five years, and this year alone turnover is up by 20%.

This year 176 companies won the Queen’s Award, with only 57 awards for Innovation – one of which was Third Dimension. “It was the second time we’d won the award,” says Monks. “It was great to win in the Innovation category for the way in which GapGun has revolutionised precision measurement in the advanced engineering world.”

Built on the principle of laser triangulation, GapGun – a market leader in non-contact precision measurement – is used worldwide by blue chip aerospace companies to control production quality. GapGun enables the accurate measurement of three dimensional surfaces and the recording of dimensions, such as angles, radius and gaps, simply by pulling a trigger. Data collected is analysed to proactively identify defects or monitor geometric conditions. This enables manufacturers to rectify and improve quality in real-time, on the production line.