The National Archives and Tessella win Queen’s Award for Enterprise

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Unique public-private partnership recognised for innovation by UK’s most prestigious business awards

Oliver Morley, chief executive of The National Archives, said: “Preserving digital records is one of the biggest challenges facing archives in the twenty-first century..."

The National Archives is the only public sector organisation among this year’s winners of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise. In doing so it becomes the first winner from a government department since the awards were expanded in 2000.

An Innovation Award was made jointly to The National Archives and Tessella for developing a system for preserving digital information which has since been adopted by libraries and archives around the world.

The Safety Deposit Box (SDB) is capable of ensuring the survival of digital information over long periods of time, regardless of changes in technology. At a time when archives, libraries and other institutions are grappling with the complexities of ensuring the long-term survival of digital information, SDB has become the de-facto standard. Now available in its fourth version, it remains unique in the marketplace.

Oliver Morley, chief executive of The National Archives, said: “Preserving digital records is one of the biggest challenges facing archives in the twenty-first century. Unlike paper records, which can last for hundreds of years in the right conditions, digital records are extremely vulnerable to changing technology. The National Archives and Tessella have worked together to develop a best-in-class archiving solution which has since been adopted by archives and libraries all over the world. This innovative approach is one key step to ensure digital records remain accessible for good.”

Kevin Gell, managing director at Tessella said: “Winning the Queens Award, jointly with our client The National Archives, is a fantastic achievement and demonstrates the strength of collaboration forged between UK industry and UK Government, which has enabled a number of export successes for Tessella's SDB technology.”

Gell continued: “I feel honoured that Tessella has been recognised with such a prestigious award and I should like to pay tribute to Tessella's staff for their innovation and commitment over an extended period of time. This award will strengthen our resolve to see Tessella's digital preservation technologies adopted on a global basis.”

The SDB provides users with the ability to store and preserve critical digital information in a reliable yet accessible manner. Most importantly, it contains an Active Preservation capability to ensure the information is trusted and remains usable long into the future.

The National Archives’ identification of an emerging business need in information management and its commissioning of Tessella as a private partner to solve this problem is a significant example of public-private partnership which has stimulated the UK high-tech economy and put Britain at the forefront of a new international business.

The Queen's Awards for Enterprise are highly prestigious awards for outstanding achievement by UK businesses in the categories of Innovation, International Trade and Sustainable Development. The awards are made annually on the Queen’s Birthday and are only given for the highest levels of excellence demonstrated in each category. HM The Queen will host a reception for the winners at Buckingham Palace in July 2011.

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Christina Tealdi