Congratulations 2021 British Business Awards Winners!


14th annual British Business Awards (JP), and first ever hybrid gala
celebrates UK-Japan business relations,
organised by the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan.

The best of UK-Japan relations, as well as British excellence, innovation, diversity, entrepreneurship and responsible business contributions in Japan were recognised last night at the 2021 British Business Awards (BBA2021) – a hybrid black-tie gala event live streamed from the British Embassy Tokyo.

Organised by the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ), with award winners chosen by a panel of six independent judges from the worlds of business, sports, government, and media, the BBA is now considered a unique yearly showcase for British creativity, culture and commerce.

Driven by the theme of “TRANSFORM THE NORM”, this year’s BBA highlighted some of the most impressive and innovative contributions made by UK-Japan-related organisations over the past twelve months, including responses to the continued challenges posed by the pandemic.


BBA2021 Winners

Company of the Year: Klein Dytham architecture

To recognise the trailblazing year Klein Dytham architecture (KDa) has enjoyed having being nominated for both the World’s Best Hospitality Building and the World’s Best Short Stay Hotel in 2021. KDa has also been recognised for their PechaKucha show-and-tell format, which has pivoted online and led to over 500 hybrid events being held globally, and has resulted in PechaKucha being invited to COP26 as a partner of the global #GetOnWithIt classroom for children.

BBA 2021 Winner Profile: Company of the Year – Klein Dytham Architecture


UK-Japan Partnership: Ocado Group & AEON Group

To recognise the vital progress over the past 12 months – in challenging global conditions – of a partnership between two significant Japanese and UK businesses that are set to transform the nature of online grocery retailing in Japan.

BBA 2021 Winner Profile: UK-Japan Partnership – Ocado Group & AEON Group



Entrepreneur of the Year: Clarence Education Asia

To recognise Fei Fei Hu and Ayahi Suda, husband and wife co-founders of the education management company Clarence Education Asia (CEA), for their great success in launching a family of new British international schools in Tokyo, including Phoenix House International School in September 2021, significantly increasing the UK’s presence and influence in Japan.

BBA 2021 Winner Profile: Entrepreneur of the Year – Clarence Education Asia


Digital Tech and Innovation: Exscientia

To recognise Exscientia’s successful application of AI to the design of two of the world’s first three AI-designed drug molecules to enter clinical trials, in collaboration with Sumitomo Dainippon Pharmaceutical Co Ltd. and the successful 2021 series D fund raise led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 that preceded Exscientia’s IPO.

BBA 2021 Winner Profile: Digital Tech and Innovation – Exscientia


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Unilever Japan

​​To recognise Unilever Japan for its leading initiatives on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion – such as gender and nationality balance in management, the inclusion and support for LGBTQ+ persons in the workplace, and combating stereotypes and social norms – all created with a view to changing and creating a more inclusive society in Japan.

BBA 2021 Winner Profile: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – Unilever Japan


Responsible Business: AstraZeneca KK

To recognise AstraZeneca’s “Ambition Zero Carbon”, their commitment to have zero carbon emissions from operations and ensure the company’s entire value chain is carbon negative by 2030, bringing forward decarbonisation plans by more than a decade. Also to commend AstraZeneca’s nonprofit COVID-19 vaccine, co-developed with Oxford University, which is being produced in Japan and is significantly contributing to local and international communities.

BBA 2021 Winner Profile: Responsible Business – AstraZeneca Japan




The hybrid BBA2021 gala was supported by an impressive range of BCCJ member companies and friends, with Robert Walters Japan contributing as Headline sponsor, and Gold sponsor IHG generously donating 14 prizes for attendees to win in a luxury raffle draw.

MC’d by professional British DJ Guy Perryman, the event featured appearances from HM Ambassador to Japan, Julia Longbottom CMG, BCCJ President David Bickle OBE, and many other BCCJ leaders and supporters.

Attendees heard from HM Trade Commissioner for the APAC region, Natalie Black and other special guests of the Chamber, who praised nominees for their meaningful contributions to the UK-Japan relationship. Hollie Pearne Webb MBE, multi-medal Olympian and captain of the Team GB hockey team dialed in from the UK to wish nominees good luck. Pearne-Webb is a mentee of the EY Women Athletes in Business Network which won the D&I award at the BBA in 2020.

Long-term BCCJ member, Kate Thomson of Ukishima Sculpture Studios in Iwate created the seven coveted BBA2021 trophies reflecting the theme, TRANSFORM THE NORM, and Life.14 helped transform the dining room of the Ambassador’s Residence at the British Embassy Tokyo into a fully functioning broadcasting studio.


The event featured various creative touches which have become synonymous with the BBA event.

Akie (violinist of postrock/electro unit JIRI) heralded the start of the event with a live contemporary violin performance, donned in an eqquisite neo kimono by stylist, Michael Yui. The opening video featured HM Ambassador to Japan Julia Longbottom CMG in a James Bond 007 moment, thanks to BBA2021 Silver sponsor Jaguar Land Rover who arranged for HMA a live-chase tumble through the countryside in a DEFENDER, whilst sipping a cup of tea.

Before moving onto the Award ceremony, guests were invited to enjoy the “Journey of the Trophies”, a stand-out video montage featuring BBA2021 trophies sculptor Kate Thomson followed by various BCCJ Executive Committee members from across Japan and the world spotting the BBA2021 trophies being airlifted by drone from Iwate to Tokyo.

Award Ceremony

On the night the winners were announced in a ceremony presided over by BCCJ Executive Director Lori Henderson MBE, with HM Ambassador to Japan Julia Longbottom revealing the winning company names.

Competition was stiff this year, with 38 nominations received across six award categories:

  • Company of the Year
  • Entrepreneur of the Year
  • UK-Japan Partnership
  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
  • Responsible Business
  • Digital & Tech Innovation


Luxury Raffle

A luxury raffle draw which had been running since October 5, was led by BCCJ Associate Director Sarah Backley, supported by Jeremy Sampson CEO of Robert Walters Japan KK (BBA2021 Gold Sponsor) and Hans Heijilgers (CEO of InterContinental Hotels Group, Japan). The delivery of the BBA2021 would not have been possible without the generous support of our hospitality prize sponsors, and Sarah extended a huge thanks to each of the prize sponsors for their contribution to the event.

Finally, befitting the date of November 5, fireworks night in the UK, the British Embassy taiko team closed the event with a bang!

A nijikai was enjoyed in the opulent leafy lobby bar at the Tokyo EDITION hotel in Toranomon.



An introduction to the outstanding achievements of our 38 nominees is detailed in BBA 2021 programme HERE.




This year’s six esteemed BBA2021 judges were:

Noel Thatcher MBE | British Paralympian
Carolyn Davidson | British Consul-General, Osaka
Miwa Seki, Kathy Matsui, Yumiko Murakami | MPower Partners
Hideo Tomita | Managing Director, Refinitiv Japan K.K.
Liza Aono | Presenter, Cool Japan TV
Adrian Gillespie | Chief Executive, Scottish Enterprise


A sincere thank you to all teams who contributed to the delivery of our first ever hybrid gala British Business Awards, and in particular our media sponsors for their wonderful support.

We look forward to seeing you next year (hopefully in person)!


About the BCCJ

The BCCJ is a not-for-profit private membership organization with over 200 member companies, whose mission is to strengthen business ties between the two countries. It was founded in 1948.

Media enquiries to: [email protected]


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Raffle winner names, 2021 highlight videos and photos COMING SOON!!