SMALL firms entering this year’s Local Business Accelerators (LBA) competition now have the added incentive of a £10,000 cash prize added to the overall winners’ package.
The Business Growth Fund (BGF), set up by to improve smaller firms’ access to finance, has stumped up the additional money for the winners of the competition organised by newspapers including The Journal.
Business Growth Fund chief executive Stephen Welton said: “I am delighted to be lending my support to the Local Business Accelerators scheme for the second year.
“The scheme shares a number of common goals with BGF – finding, encouraging and supporting ambitious business owners and offering a much-needed boost to UK entrepreneurship.
“Last year’s scheme was highly successful in getting more people to talk about these smaller businesses and to acknowledge their significant achievements.
“We saw an impressive number of businesses enter from across the country, with real ambition and the potential to grow into the success stories of tomorrow.
“As growth investors, these are the companies that we are looking to back and we’d hope to see some LBA winners among our investee companies in the future.” The LBA is also pledging a total of £15m of free newspaper advertising in campaign devised by a top London creative ad agency and mentoring for the most promising companies.
The overall victor will win mentoring from TV Dragon and entrepreneur Deborah Meaden, who is again acting as the competition’s ambassador. The Journal is one of 500 newspapers around the UK to back the contest, which is being spearheaded by the Newspaper Society.
James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East of Commerce (NECC), is backing the initiative and welcomed the BGF’s contribution.
He said: “Regional newspapers play a vital role in helping young business talent find new ways to grow and develop.
“Local Business Accelerators is an excellent initiative and with the additional bonus of a £10,000 prize for the eventual winner, I would urge all businesses to take part.
“The NECC wishes The Journal every success with the project and hopes that this unique partnership devised by the local newspaper industry goes from strength to strength.”
To be eligible, firms must have been running for between one and five years and should have a great plan to boost the local economy, such as finding a new idea, product, market.
Entrants must impress our panel of experts made up of businessmen Alan Hall, Alan Holmes and Geoff Hodgson, who will also act as mentors for the three winning regional firms, and Journal Business Editor Iain Laing.
The North East winners will be rewarded with substantial free advertising in The Journal, and one of them will go forward to the national final.
Entry can be made via the LBA hub – www.accelerateme.co.uk before the closing date of November 16.
Follow LBA on Twitter @acceleratelocal