The shortlist for the Startup Awards North East has been announced, with a record number of entrepreneurs applying to take part.
Shortlisted applicants for all three categories have been notified of their success, with a total of 42 finalists – 15 for the SkillUP category, 15 for StartUP and 12 for ScaleUP.
Despite the pandemic posing a detrimental risk to new-found entrepreneurs and small business owners, 64 per cent of applicants founded their business during the pandemic, demonstrating an overwhelming sense of optimism amongst North East entrepreneurs.
Applications are from businesses in a wide variety of sectors, including food and drink, creative arts, consultancy and information technology with a combined turnover of over £3 million.
Startup Awards North East, held on 15-17 June, aims to connect entrepreneurs and business professionals, acknowledge the breadth of talent across the region and encourage more people to consider self-employment following the devastation of the pandemic.
More than an awards ceremony, participants receive help and advice throughout the year to support their business journey, including access to free workshops, recognised qualifications, mentoring, funding, peer groups, networking, and 121s.
The Awards end in a celebration during the three-day event, where entrants can pitch their idea, build relationships whilst having fun with creative activities.
Craig Smith, director at The Printed Bag Shop and previous winner of Startup Awards North East, is a shining example of the success entrepreneurs could see following the awards.
Since winning the Startup Awards North East, The Printed Bag Shop has achieved a turnover of £1.3 million and continued to thrive despite the devastating effects the pandemic has had on many businesses.
In addition to his success in the Startup Awards North East, Craig has won many further accolades including The Princes Trust Celebrate Success award, North Tyneside Entrepreneur of the year two years in a row, and North Tyneside Business Awards Retail and Service Provider. Craig was also a finalist in the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, and The Pitch (London), as well as being picked by Theo Paphitis for his #SBS challenge in 2013.
Craig said: “Winning the Startup Awards North East was a life changing moment for me, and the business, and it helped to introduce me to an incredible network of supportive entrepreneurs.
“Best of luck to all the shortlisted applicants for this year’s awards ceremonies, and the best advice I can give is to seize every opportunity that comes your way and never stop believing in yourself.”
Charlotte Windebank, co-founder at FIRST, organisers of Startup Awards North East, said: “Well done to all our wonderful finalists for all three categories of the Startup Awards North East, you should all be so proud!
“We have an exciting few days planned for our awards ceremony in June, and the shortlisted applicants will be given the chance to showcase their business to other entrepreneurs and potential investors.
“Tickets to attend the awards are still available to purchase, with a variety of packages available depending on individual networking needs.”