There are many competitions and awards open to businesses in Essex with some great prizes to be won, ranging from cash prizes to coaching and advice. Competitions and awards are a great way to increase your credibility, access marketing and benchmarking your business.

Please take a look at the information below to find out what competitions and awards your business can access.

  • Arts Award

    What is the Arts Award Access Fund?

    The Access Fund provides grants of between £100-£1500 to Arts Award centres working on Arts Award projects with young people for whom access and inclusion is an issue.

    Who can apply?

    We welcome applications from all registered Arts Award centres based in England, but priority will be given to centres that:

    • are working with young people for whom access and inclusion is an issue
    • will use the grant to support them to pilot, embed or develop their Arts Award work with these groups

    See how the Access Fund has been used to support centres in the past

    What can the money be used for? 

    • Discover, Explore or Bronze logs
    • Bronze, Silver or Gold guidance booklets
    • Fees for workshops with a professional or specialist
    • General art materials, printing costs, etc
    • Tickets for events
    • Travel to and from a venue
    • Contribution towards the costs of Gold leadership projects
    • Hire of specialist equipment or specialist venue
    • Adviser/project management/staff time
    • Discover certificates
    • Moderation costs for Explore, Bronze, Silver and Gold
    • Specific access requirements e.g. BSL/other translators; assistive technology specifically related to the Arts Award project (where renting is not cost effective)

    When can I apply?

    Open for applications Closing date
    2017 – Round 1 30 January 2017 5pm, 3 March 2017
    2017 – Round 2 18 September 2017 5pm, 20 October 2017
    2018 – Round 1 TBC TBC

    We cannot provide funding that is required less than 6 weeks after the application deadline, as we cannot guarantee that we will be able to get the grant to you in time.

    How do I apply?

    For more information please click here: Arts Award

  • Chamber Business Awards

    The Chamber Awards, which celebrate the success and achievements of businesses around the UK, are open to entries for 2017.

    This year’s awards are made up of the following categories:

    • Small Business of the Year
    • Export Business of the Year
    • Best Use of Technology
    • High Growth Business of the Year
    • Commitment to People Development
    • Education and Business Partnership
    • Excellence in Customer Service
    • Health and Wellbeing
    • Best Use of Social media

    Free entry is open to UK-accredited Chamber of Commerce members and winners may be requested to participate in post-event publicity. There is a fee for non-members to enter.

    Regional winners receive a framed certificate. National winners will receive a certificate and a personalised trophy.

    For 2017 the Business of the Year winner will open the London Stock Exchange in March 2018. They will also have an opportunity to work with Rada and join a communication skills and impact course.

    Regional winners will be announced in late summer and national winners will be announced on 30 November 2017 at the Chamber Awards ceremony.

    The closing date for receipt of entries is 30 June 2017.

    For more information click here: Awards

  • Innovation in Cycling and Walking SBRI Competition Open

    The Innovation in Cycling and Walking SBRI Competition will fund up to £470,000 for innovative projects that lead to more walking and cycling by tackling current barriers and encouraging more journey stages to be made by bicycle or on foot. Innovations may include, for example, technology, infrastructure, manufacturing or behavioural change interventions.

    The government’s vision is for cycling and walking to become the natural choice for shorter journeys and it is estimated that cycling’s contribution to the UK economy is around £3 billion. The benefits of increasing rates of cycling and walking are substantial. For people, it means cheaper travel and better health. For businesses, it means increased productivity and footfall. For society as a whole it means lower congestion, better air quality, and more vibrant, attractive places and communities.

    Up to £170,000 is allocated for phase 1 of the competition and up to £300,000 for phase 2:

    • Phase 1 (proof of concept): projects should last up to 15 weeks and range in size up to a total cost of £25,000 each.
    • Phase 2 (demonstrator projects): projects should last up to nine months and range in size up to a total cost of £100,000 per project.

    Through this open competition, the funder is looking to fund a portfolio of projects that propose innovative means of tackling the barriers to walking and cycling.

    This competition is open to individuals, groups and organisations. It is particularly suitable for early stage, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Industry partners such as local government and independent organisations can carry out the project on their own or with others.

    The deadline for registrations is 7 June 2017.

    The competition opens on 19 April 2017.

    You must register before midday on 7 June 2017.

    You must apply before midday on 14 June 2017.

    Attend the briefing event on 25 April 2017.

  • Entries Invited for the 2017 Global Startup Open Competition

    Startup Open is an international competition designed to identify, recognise and reward start-up companies and the entrepreneurs who are setting them up. The competition is held as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) and recognises the best start-ups of the year, awarding prizes to help them grow their business.

    One of GEW’s strengths is its network. By winning Startup Open, young start-ups have the opportunity to join the network and strengthen their own support network.

    Startup Open will announce and recognise the most promising ventures from around the world, which will be selected by a range of criteria including strength of concept, growth projections, and knowledge of the market. Those companies will compete for a handful of prizes with the winners announced during Global Entrepreneurship Week, 13-19 November 2017.

    The competition is open to any start-up from across the globe that has been founded in the last year.

    Startup Open is now accepting applications for the 2017 competition.

    The deadline for submitting an application is 30 September 2017.

    For more information please follow this link: Startup Open


  • Funding competition: energy catalyst round 5

    Innovate UK (IUK), in association with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Department for International Development (DFID), has established the Energy Catalyst programme to support technology innovations that address challenges in the energy sector, specifically low carbon, security of supply and affordability (the ‘energy trilemma’).

    In this Round 5 of the Energy Catalyst Competition, the funders will invest up to £13 million. The aim is to accelerate the commercialisation of the very best of UK energy innovation. It is expected that applicants will have a clear understanding of their specific business opportunity and the route to growth, even at the earliest stages of research and development. Applications may involve any technology, come from any sector and address any business opportunity.

    Within this broad scope, the co-funders have different priorities:

    • Department for International Development: will fund research and innovation that has relevance to the energy trilemma in developing countries. DFID’s priority is affordable and reliable access to clean energy for poor households, communities and enterprises in rural, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. This does not exclude engagement with markets or partners in other regions and countries. DFID encourages the involvement of international partners where they will strengthen the project outcome.
    • Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: may prioritise funding of projects with higher technology and commercial readiness relevant to the UK energy system.
    • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council: will target its funding at universities (whether partners or leads) undertaking work of scientific excellence within EPSRC’s energy remit area.

    Funding may be prioritised towards technologies and sectors for which alternative sources of public funding are not available. Funding may also be prioritised to innovations and organisations with a track record of success. Projects must address all three elements of the energy trilemma (cost, emissions and security of supply), though they may prioritise one or two of these.

    There are three application options within this competition (referred to as streams) and they all run in parallel. The streams are dependent on the stage the project is at: early stage (technical feasibility), mid stage (industrial research) or late stage (experimental development). The applicant should choose the stream that broadly reflects the technical and commercial readiness of the project.

    Any UK organisation may participate in Energy Catalyst Competition projects. The three competition streams have different eligibility requirements as follows:

    • Early stage: interested parties can apply for and lead an early stage project if they are a UK research organisation working in partnership with any UK business, a UK small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) working alone, or a UK SME working in partnership with any other organisation.
    • Mid and late stage: interested parties can apply for and lead a mid or late stage project if they are a UK business working in partnership with any other UK organisation.

    Any project application may include international (non-UK) partners. However, international partners will only be eligible to receive funding if the project is relevant to the needs of developing countries and selected for funding by DFID. In all other cases, international partners may be included in the consortium and in the calculation of total project costs, but will not be eligible for grant funding.

    Up to £13 million is available for the fifth round of the Catalyst, to be split between early, mid and late stage awards. The three competition streams have different project size and duration requirements as follows:

    • Early stage: projects are expected to last up to one year with total costs ranging from £50,000 to £300,000.
    • Mid stage: projects are expected to last up to three years, with total costs ranging from £50,000 to £1.5 million.
    • Late stage: projects are expected to last up to three years, with total costs ranging from £50,000 to £10 million.

    This competition is now open. The registration deadline is 12 noon, 21 June 2017 and the application deadline (for registered applicants only) is 12 noon, 28 June 2017.

    Link: Competition 

  • The Green Alley Award

    The Green Alley Award is a start-up competition focused on the green economy, dealing specifically with the challenges of the throwaway society, the scarcity of resources and the recovery of raw materials. It is targeted at ‘green’ entrepreneurs from across Europe with business ideas for the circular economy and new ways of improving the waste and recycling industries.

    The theme of the Awards is about connecting green ideas. Green Alley is looking for ideas, new services, products and technologies that can turn waste into a resource. In return it offers strategic support, networking opportunities and financing to boost business across Europe.

    All competition finalists will be invited to Berlin to participate in a one-day event with networking and learning opportunities. In individual workshops the start-ups will learn how to start, finance and boost a green business. All finalists are expected to pitch their business idea to an expert jury who will then select the winner of the Green Alley Award 2017.

    The winner receives a cash prize of €7,000 and a package of additional benefits, including dedicated PR support for at least six months, coupled with the opportunity to pitch for an investment or crowdfunding.

    By taking part in the contest entrepreneurs will profit from a network of green economy experts and valuable new business contacts.

    Entrepreneurs and start-ups operating in the green economy from across Europe with business ideas for the circular economy and new ways of looking at waste can apply.

    The deadline for receipt of applications is 25 July 2017.

    Enter here: Green Alley 

  • Design Foundations 2017 Funding Competition: Round Two

    Through this competition Innovate UK (IUK) will support business projects that use early-stage design activities to help them identify innovation opportunities and generate new ideas.

    The aim is to encourage businesses to use design-led methods to understand customer motivations and behaviour, inspire new ideas, support decision-making and inform strategy. Early-stage design activity can help businesses to tackle the right problems and generate ideas that are more likely to meet the needs of their customers.

    IUK has allocated up to £1 million to fund early-stage design projects. IUK expects projects to range in size from total costs of between £10,000 and £60,000 in total. Projects should last no longer than six months. A single business must run each project.

    Applications are open to UK-based business of any size. The business must carry out the project, and intend to exploit the results, in the UK. Applicants can work alone or with sub-contractors. A single business must run each project. Up to 70% of total project costs can be used to sub-contract design services.

    The competition will support businesses exploring ideas for physical or digital products, services and business models. Projects may be in any technology or industry sector, but IUK is particularly encouraging proposals within:

    • Health and life sciences
    • Manufacturing and materials
    • Infrastructure systems
    • Emerging and enabling technologies

    The competition opens on 8 May 2017.

    You must register before midday on 14 June 2017.

    You must apply before midday on 21 June 2017.

    Register and apply online: Round Two


  • Launch of 2017 Formations Company Entrepreneur Award for UK Start-ups

    The Formations Company Entrepreneur Award is a business grant scheme created to encourage aspiring entrepreneurs in industry, across all sectors. The programme will support those with a business idea that ‘stands out from the crowd’. Coupled with the funding, winners will receive a mentorship package from Barclays Business, a free company set-up and professional guidance and mentorship to get their business started.

    The winning entry will take the grand prize of a £1,000 business grant and have their limited company set up for free; including all the documentation. The winner will also receive a start-up package including professional guidance and mentorship from Barclays to help turn the business idea into a reality. The mentorship package from Barclays includes the following resources to help over the longer term:

    • SmartBusiness insights – a new tool to help manage and run a business smoothly.
    • Maker Space.
    • Barclays Local Insights.
    • The opportunity to speak with a Local Business Manager.
    • An invitation to a Cyber-Security Workshop, which looks at the impact and scale of cybercrime and how to stay safe with online banking.

    The programme is open to entrepreneurs in the UK who have an idea for a start-up business. Applications are accepted from students and business enthusiasts across all sectors.

    The deadline for applications is 30 June 2017.

    Apply here: Award

  • Manufacturing and Materials Innovation Competition Round Three Open

    The aim of the Manufacturing and Materials Innovation Competition is to stimulate and widen innovation in UK manufacturing and materials. A range of projects that address technical or commercial challenges can be supported. These aim to increase business productivity, competitiveness and growth, particularly for SMEs. A project may focus on technical feasibility, industrial research or experimental development. The type of innovation project will depend on the nature of the challenge the applicant business is facing.

    According to Innovate UK, innovation is necessary in order to increase manufacturing productivity, material efficiency and competitiveness in the long term.

    In this manufacturing and materials competition, Innovate UK is particularly seeking applications that:

    • take an innovative step in addressing the manufacturing readiness of growing sectors;
    • develop flexible or efficient processes;
    • seek greater customisation of products to fit diverging consumer needs;
    • diversify product and service lines to serve new markets;
    • develop novel services that open up new sources of revenue from manufacturing.

    Innovate UK has up to £15 million available for innovation projects lasting up to one year; £5 million for projects lasting up to two years; and £5 million for projects up to three years. IUK expects projects to range in size from total costs of £50,000 to £2 million and to last from six months to three years.

    Projects may focus on technical feasibility, industrial research or experimental development. This will depend on the identified challenge.

    For technical feasibility studies and industrial research, the applicant could receive up to:

    • 70% of eligible project costs for a small business.
    • 60% if for a medium-sized businesses.
    • 50% for a large business.

    For experimental development projects, which are nearer to market, the applicant could receive up to:

    • 45% of eligible project costs for a small business.
    • 35% for a medium-sized business.
    • 25% for a large business.

    All projects must be led by a UK-based business and must involve at least one SME. The business may also work with other businesses or research organisations.

    For this competition specifically IUK would like to encourage applications featuring the novel application of a digital technology or approach to manufacturing or materials development (such as automation, modelling and simulation, data analysis) or the design for manufacture, use and end-of-life.

    Round 3 is now open. The deadline for registrations is 12 July 2017.

    Apply here: Competition

  • Made in Britain Photography Competition

    Professional and amateur photographers are invited to enter the EEF Made in Britain Photography Awards which offer prizes including photographic equipment.

    Through the competition, the sponsor is looking for images to present a picture of contemporary British manufacturing which can give the sector greater visibility and change the misconception that ‘Britain doesn’t make anything anymore’. The challenge is to capture images through modern, engaging and inspiring photography which reflects today’s modern UK manufacturing sector.

    Images can be anything from turbines to ceramic pots, steel rods to silicon chips – the theme is open to the entrants’ interpretation. Submissions require a caption to be added, explaining how the image depicts the theme ‘Made by Britain, Loved by the World.’

    The programme has a total prize fund of £5,000 available for distribution. The prize money is to be used to towards purchasing modern high-end equipment.

    As well as the prize money, entrants and their businesses will benefit from high-profile media exposure – a showcase of the best images will be used in the sponsor’s print media and public relations activity.

    The Awards are open to professional and amateur photographers and young people aged 14-19 in the UK.

    The 2017 deadline for entries is 30 September 2017.

    More information here: Made in Britain Photography Competition

  • UK Social Enterprise Awards Opens with New Categories

    The Awards, which are hosted by Social Enterprise UK (SEUK), recognise social enterprise organisations for their business excellence and contribution to society. They also seek to identify and reward the achievements of individuals working within the social enterprise sector.

    UK social enterprises of any size may apply, providing that they trade primarily for social and/or environmental purposes, earn at least half of their income through trading activity, and commit at least half of their profits to social purposes or back into their business. They must also be able to show that their social purpose is evidenced in their governing documents.

    This year there are 13 award categories:

    • Category 1 – UK Social Enterprise
    • Category 2 – One to Watch
    • Category 3 – Prove It: Social Impact
    • Category 4 – ’Buy Social’ – Market Builder
    • Category 5 – Social Investment Deal of the Year
    • Category 6 – Health & Social Care Social Enterprise
    • Category 7 – Consumer Facing Social Enterprise
    • Category 8 – Education, Training & Jobs Social Enterprise
    • Category 9 – Environmental Social Enterprise
    • Category 10 – Tech for Good: Technology Social Enterprise (new for 2017)
    • Category 11 – Women in Social Enterprise
    • Category 12 – International Impact
    • Category 13 – Community Business of the year (new for 2017)

    Organisations which are not social enterprises are eligible to enter Category 4, Category 5 and Category 10, whilst Category 11 is open to women working in the social enterprise sector only. All the categories listed above are open to organisations from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

    Category winners and the overall UK winner will receive an award presented at the ceremony. Winners also receive a package including PR support, mentoring and business support consultancy

    The application deadline is 7 July 2017 (midnight).

    For more information please follow this link: Awards