More than 100 businesses from across Lancashire are bidding to lift one of the county’s leading awards this year.
The Be Inspired Business Awards, the BIBAs, today unveils its shortlists for the 17 prizes it will hand out at its annual prize-giving ceremony at the iconic Blackpool Tower in September.
It will put 196 applications from 119 businesses which were among the record number of entries it received before its judges when they meet for the first round of interviews later this month.
Ashleigh Dawson, Senior Business Development Manager at accountancy firm Grant Thornton which is sponsoring the Entrepreneur of the Year category, said the quality of firms shortlisted for the awards were evidence of the strength of Lancashire’s business community.
She said: “Grant Thornton is used to working with some of Lancashire’s leading businesses so we recognise the wealth of great firms which are in the county.
“The BIBAs are special because no firm progresses to the latter stages without being very special and this year is no exception.
“The quality and quantity of entries to the 17 prizes up for grabs this year has surpassed all previous years and there is no doubt the judges have a tough job on their hands picking a winner.”
She added her firm was backing the Entrepreneur of the Year category, one of two new prizes added in 2014, to “throw a spotlight on the crucial role entrepreneurs play in securing jobs and prosperity” within Lancashire.
The 17 judging panels will meet the shortlisted applicants at the offices of awards organisers, the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, in Blackpool from Monday, May 19.
The judging will kick-off with the E-Business of the Year category and continue until the panel meets to select the Business of the Year winner on Friday, May 30.
Last week, 73 business leaders from across the county, which will make up the judging panels at this year’s awards, were given a training session by experts at Lancaster University Management School (LUMS).
The one-day session saw the judges given the lowdown on a criteria, developed by a unique research project into the world’s leading business awards by LUMS, which they will use to pick the winners.
Babs Murphy, chief executive of awards organisers, said: “We know the record number of entries we received for this year’s BIBAs have put everything into making their applications the best they can be.
“We know that our judges cannot afford to be anything other than completely prepared for what our applicants will throw at them, which is why we have left nothing to chance.
“I think our judges went into the training sessions realising the BIBAs are Lancashire’s leading business awards and came out realising exactly why they’re ‘the one they all want to win.’”
In 2013, John Lancaster, the founder of Ribble Valley-based conservatory manufacturer, Ultraframe, collected the lifetime achievement award, Lancastrian of the Year, with other winners including Burnley-based textiles firm, Panaz Fabrics, and listed energy broker, Inspired Energy.