A host of leading figures from throughout Lancashire’s business community will pick the winners of one of the county’s top awards.

More than 70 judges have been named among the panels for the Be Inspired Business Awards, the BIBAs, which will hand out 18 prizes at its ceremony in September.

The judges include former BIBA winners such as Rob Scott, of East Lancashire-based Denwa Communications, and Magma Digital’s Jeremy Coates, who picked up two awards in 2012 and 2015 respectively.

Stephen Hart, of Lytham-based IT specialists, Intersys Group, will chair the Best Use of IT and believes the quality of the judges for this year’s awards will ensure a challenging and rewarding process for applicants.

He said: “I have been on both sides of an awards application, as an applicant and a judge, and the selection process for picking BIBAs winners is absolutely superb.

“This year the awards have some fantastic judges and I am lucky to have people like Rob and Jeremy on my own panel who have been there and done it all before at the BIBAs, they know what it is all about.

“I have no doubt the individuals and businesses which pick up trophies at this year’s awards will be the very best of the best, and I hope all those who enter the BIBAs get something from the process.

“The application process, the interviews and the judges’ visits to applicants’ firms all offer the chance to look critically at your business and see where you can carry on improving.”

The BIBAs is now open for applications with businesses having until Friday, April 8 to put themselves forward for the 18 prizes on offer.

After the deadline, the awards will host a special training day for its judges to ensure all panels are prepared for the first round of interviews which get underway on May 16, when the Best Use of IT judges meet their applicants.

Mr Hart added: “I was involved in the judges’ training day last year and it really does help you focus on the areas you need to be critiquing when you are looking at applications.

“We know that applicants put an awful lot of time and effort in to writing their applications, so judges need to ensure we are giving an equal amount of attention when he select the winners.”

In 2015, Lytham-based accountancy firm Danbro was named the Business 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.