Awards for Product Excellence were handed out at the end of the recent 2003 PLASA trade show in London. This year, the five product categories attracted 79 nominations, generating £12,000 for PLASA's nominated charities – Light Relief, PSA Welfare and Benevolent Fund and the Golden Lions Children's Trust. This system has been running for five years now and every penny of the entry fees is donated – to date this scheme has raised close on £45,000 pounds for charitable causes.

The five product categories this year were Lighting, Sound, Stage Engineering, Software (a new category launched this year) and Audio-Visual. Within each category, the judges can recognize both design excellence and technical innovation. In addition to these, the judges can also choose to award the product with the most environmental considerations. The Awards were presented by PLASA chairman David Hopkins OBE.

Beginning with the Lighting category, the winner of the Award for Design Excellence was Element Labs for its Versa Tile – the judges felt that this was a well thought-out and engineered concept. The award for Technical Innovation went to Power Gems for their HF575P ballast – which was felt to be a well engineered no-nonsense approach to ballast technology.

In the Sound category, the Award for Innovation went to Clear-Com for its CellCom system, noted for being the first truly integrated wireless intercom system. The Award for Design Excellence went to AKG for its WMS wireless microphone series, which combines maximum functionality with a cost-effective package.

For Staging, the winner of the Design Excellence Award was PCM for its Unibar – a well-engineered and simple concept that provides a cost-effective powered flying solution for many small venues. The Award for Technical innovation went to Total Fabrications for its striking new wave carbon fibre truss – an original concept and noted for its good design.

In the Audio-Visual category, the Award for Design Excellence went to High End Systems for the Catalyst DL1, which the judges felt was the first effective implementation of a moving video projector. The winner of the Award for Technical Innovation was Korg for the Kaoss Entrancer, which provides the VJ with a revolutionary new approach to mixing.

With technology playing an increasing role in all aspects of entertainment engineering, it was decided this year to introduce Software as a new category to recognize the work done in this field with an award for Design Excellence only. The category's first winner is Stage Technologies for the Visual Creator, which impressed the judges with its excellent approach to the 3D visualization of flying equipment.

Finally, the winner of the Environmental Award went to a simple product that will no doubt become a mainstay in most venues – Le Mark's Gaf Fire tape, which was produced with environmental factors at the forefront of its development and subsequent production.

The PLASA Awards for Product Excellence were established to recognize the extremely high standards of research and development in the entertainment and installation technology industries, and to reward the companies that successfully translate this R&D into new products. The PLASA Show is considered to be the premier launch pad for new products and innovations, and it is encouraging to see that such R&D continues apace.

This year's judges were: Simon Swift, a freelance lighting designer; Charlie Kail, a consultant stage systems designer; Richard Northwood, a consultant sound systems designer (Coms UK); Roland Hemming, technical director of Live Business International; Glyn Hughes, system designer for Sysco; Andy Hayles, project engineer for Theatre Projects Consultants; David Harvey, lighting manager of the Royal Opera House and the panel chairman, James Eade, technical editor of Lighting&Sound International magazine, which sponsored the PLASA Show's New Technology Gallery.

For further information on PLASA, please refer to its website