The inaugural Times Higher Awards, which recognise the contribution made by the UK's higher education establishments to the intellectual, social and economic life of the country, took place at London's Dorchester Hotel last night. Prime Minister Tony Blair recorded a special video message in support of the event in which he said that the awards "... give us a chance to celebrate the achievements of the UK's universities - a sector where, thanks to your efforts, Britain is truly a world-leader... Our society and country would be poorer, in every way, without the contributions of the higher education sector." Speaking at the Awards ceremony John O'Leary, editor of The Times Higher Education Supplement, said: "Launching these Awards has been a tremendously rewarding experience and we're delighted to present our first annual winners with their prizes." The success of this year's inaugural Times Higher Awards has ensured that they will continue as an annual event in the UK's industry awards calendar. A total of 13 prizes were awarded, with Manchester University receiving the prestigious Higher Education Institution of the Year award. Other honours included the Business Initiative of the Year award (won by Proximagen of Kings College London), the Best Student Experience award (Universiry of Wales Swansea) and the Employer of the Year award (Sheffield Hallam University).