Businesses across Lancashire have been urged to get their applications in to one of the county’s biggest awards – with just four days left until the deadline.

The Be Inspired Business Awards, the BIBAs, has 18 prizes up for grabs this year open to firms of all sizes and sectors throughout the county, and is open until this Friday (April 8).

Following the deadline, the awards organisers, the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, will check the eligibility of every category before the awards’ judging panels select the entries which will go through to the first round of interviews.

Those selected as finalists in the categories will then host visits from the judges to their business premises as part of the BIBAs unique ‘Judges on Tour’ second round of interviews before the winners are decided.

Stephen Chalcraft, Principal Lawyer in the Commercial Law division of solicitors Slater and Gordon, which is sponsoring the Medium Business of the Year category, said the awards offered applicants the opportunity to develop and grow their businesses.

He said: “The BIBAs is not just about awards, it is a learning and development opportunity for those businesses and individuals entering it.

“The application process alone gives applicants the chance to stand back and look at what they are doing; the initial interview stage sees experienced business leaders question them and suggest areas for improvement, and the second interviews are a unique one-to-one opportunity with the judges.

“Businesses often enter awards for an opportunity to celebrate their success and get a nice trophy; the BIBAs offers them all this and so much more and Slater and Gordon is delighted to be supporting the Medium Business of the Year category at this year’s awards.”

The winners of the 18 prizes which will be handed out at the BIBAs ceremony later this year will enter the BIBAs Academy, a package of masterclasses, workshops and networking opportunities which will run for the 12 months until the next award winners are named.

Next week, the winners of the 2015 prizes will have a workshop with Ian Gordon, a Senior Teaching Fellow at Lancaster University Management School, which will look at unique ways of business modelling.

They will also benefit from a masterclass from Loyd Grossman, the entrepreneur and television personality, later this month.

In 2015, Ian Hall, the chairman of Preston-based retail group James Hall and Son, collected the lifetime achievement prize, Lancastrian of the Year, when the BIBAs handed out its prizes in front of a sell-out crowd at the Blackpool Tower in September.

Social enterprise Jobs Friends and Houses CIC, which works with ex-offenders, won its Most Inspiring Business of the Year prize and individual prizes went to Phil Lawson of Skelmersdale’s Virtue Technologies, who won Entrepreneur of the Year and Louise Wilkinson, who runs Nelson-based Lomeshaye Village Day Nursery, who was named Business Woman of the Year.