Glee Innovators – where are they now?

Launched all the way back in 2009, the Glee Innovators Zone has helped hundreds of companies break into the garden retail market and is the first port of call at the show for many visiting buyers. Designed to help nurture valuable grass-roots product development and one-off design ideas, this dedicated part of Glee bridges the gap between market-ready new product launches and established companies, and provides a showcase to pre-commercial product ideas. From leading brands to grassroot inventors, there is something new to see with every step of your journey around the show.

Adding additional benefit, the area is greatly supported by Glee’s trade association partner, GIMA, which each year crowns its winner for the GIMA Innovators Seed Corn Fund (GISCF)– a special award to celebrate those that have bravely taken a great idea and worked tirelessly to launch it to market at Glee. Every exhibitor within the Innovators Zone can enter this highly coveted prize, which includes a £6,000 grant and access to unrivalled industry and expert support. Here we look back on some previous Innovator Zone exhibitors and to see how their businesses have flourished.

VivaGreen scooped the award in 2016 with its chemical-free MossOff product. Speaking about the 2016 event, VivaGreen’s Head of Market/Product Development Russell Walsh said: “Winning the GISCF and exhibiting at Glee had a significant impact on our business. Since the show we gained an exclusive UK distributor in the shape of DLF Seeds; a partnership that undoubtedly has helped us to gain listings in garden centre chains and independent garden centres. Without our presence at Glee this would not have been realistically possible to achieve within the same timescale.”

The 2021 winners and Glee exhibitors, Pot-mate™ also credit the show with helping its growth plans become a reality. Pot-mate™’s creator, Phil Wilson said: “Glee and the GISCF helped enormously in getting us noticed, as well as helping us to develop our website www.pot-mate.co.uk and our wider marketing plans. We have certainly had lots of interest and since Glee have secured a healthy order book for our product.”

Another winner was GYO specialists, Green Digit (Grow So Simple™). Talking at the 2021 show, Green Digit’s Dan Robson said: “It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were making our Glee debut within the GIMA Innovators Zone, with one product and a head full of ideas and now, we are here as a fully-established brand that is growing its portfolio and international reach. It’s been an amazing journey. Glee certainly gave us the opportunities we wanted, including being introduced to key retailers and influencers – invaluable in helping us gain insight into how to further develop our offering. Within a year of making our debut at Glee [in 2015] we were being stocked by over 100 retailers, in Britain, Germany and Italy, including Homebase. Little did we know what impact our three days at Glee would have on our business.” And amazing it has been, with the brand now reaching an international audience and featuring three sub-brands, each pushing the envelope for home growing, food provenance and a healthy lifestyle.

Being sustainable, eco-friendly and chemical-free also helped Natural Grower to be noticed when it exhibited within the Glee Innovators Zone in 2019. Having also scooped the GISCF the event helped kickstart the phenomenal growth of the Natural Grower portfolio of organic and vegan garden and houseplant fertilisers. Fast becoming a household name, the brand has gone on to receive several important accolades including Soil Association approval and endorsement from the Vegan Society, as well as a handful of awards from the consumer media and leading business award bodies.

Glee’s Event Director, Matthew Mein said: “Innovation is vital to the future of our industry and is undoubtedly the lifeblood for retailers who want to set their offering apart. The Glee Innovators Zone has been designed to specifically assist those brands or inventors that have lovingly nurtured an idea into a real life, tangible product. With so many such innovators expected to enter our market following the boom of gardening during the pandemic, there is no question that time spent in the Innovators Zone at Glee 2022 will pay dividends.”

Glee 2022 takes place in late June (28th – 30th) at the NEC Birmingham. Exhibiting floorspace is filling up fast with over 80% now sold. Brands and manufacturers interested in exhibiting are being urged to do so now to avoid missing out.

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