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.

  • Innovation loans: manufacturing and materials readiness

    Innovate UK is to offer up to £10 million in loans to micro, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for innovative manufacturing or materials projects.

    The aim of this competition is to provide a loan which will help SMEs increase manufacturing readiness. This applies to innovations in manufacturing systems, technologies or processes, and/or materials development, properties, integration or reuse.

    Proposals should focus on the scale-up of recent or ongoing manufacturing process innovation and/or materials development activities. The project’s aim should be to enable UK based companies to progress innovative manufacturing or materials developments to commercial readiness.

    Projects should last up to 5 years, of which up to 3 years can focus on research and development (R&D), and up to 2 more years to establish a clear route to commercial success. Loan repayments will be required over a further period of up to 5 years.

    Businesses must be able to show that they:

    • can cover interest payments
    • will be able to repay the loan on time
    • need public funding
    Project size

    Loans of between £100,000 and £1 million are available. Projects should last up to 5 years.

    Competition opens: Monday 26 February 2018

    Registration closes: Wednesday 25 April 2018 12:00pm

  • Print Futures Awards Open to Young Prospective Publishers

    Launched in 2003, the Print Future Awards help people to fund costs associated with a relevant training course in printing, publishing or the graphic arts. The scheme is supported through funding from the Printing Charity, Unite the Union, BPiF, Saxoprint, St Bride Foundation and the Book Trade Charity.

    The programme is aimed at young people in the UK between the ages of 16 and 30. They may be wishing to train for a job in printing, publishing or the graphic arts, or they could be currently working in these industries and would like the opportunity to develop their skills. They may also be apprentices or otherwise studying for NVQs in print related organisations and require financial assistance whilst studying.

    Grants worth up to £1,500 are available. If an applicant’s employer is already sponsoring the training, then a grant of £750 will be awarded on the understanding that the employer will match this. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed in London in early June.

    The next deadline for this scheme is 29 April 2018.

    For more information please click here: Awards

  • 2018 Baldwins Kick Start Award Offers £20,000 to Young Entrepreneurs in the UK

    Baldwins Kick Start is an annual award programme for young entrepreneurs who have a good idea and would like to start their own business. The programme was established by Baldwins Accountants to find and develop the ‘Youth Entrepreneurs’ of the future.

    Baldwins hopes to reach those young people who have talent, drive, ambition and ideas but who lack access to the necessary funding and business support needed to start up in enterprise.

    The programme has a total budget of £300,000, running over ten years.

    The winner of the award will be given a grant of £10,000 coupled with £10,000 worth of mentoring and accountancy advice. Two runners-up will be presented with £5,000 worth of accountancy advice and mentoring.

    The scheme is open to UK-based young people aged between 18 and 25 who either have an idea and a business plan but are yet to start trading, or a newly founded start-up business where trading commenced on or after 31 August 2017.

    Applications for the current round close on 31 August 2018.

    For more information please click HERE

  • Digital Health Technology Catalyst 2018 Round Two Competition

    The Digital Health Technology Catalyst is a £35 million competition, funded through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund over a four-year period. The UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK (IUK), has launched the second call of the Fund to support projects that develop new digital technology solutions to healthcare challenges.

    Projects must focus on the development of digital health or digitally-enabled medical technologies and have the potential to achieve one or more of the following:

    • Improving health and closing the health and wellbeing gap.
    • Transforming care and closing the care and quality gap.
    • Controlling costs and enabling change and closing the finance and efficiency gap through the use of technology to maintain or improve levels of care with reduced spending.

    Projects must be innovative, collaborative and clearly demonstrate how they will address the needs of the health and care system. Applicants may design technologies for use in clinical or non-clinical everyday settings, and show how they will improve the competitiveness and productivity for at least one UK SME involved in the project. Projects can focus on industrial research or experimental development, and IUK recommends collaboration with healthcare providers if beneficial to the project.

    IUK is looking to fund a portfolio of projects across a variety of technologies, markets and healthcare needs. All projects must last no longer than 30 months and commence by August 2018.

    UK businesses will be able to apply for a share of up to £8 million to speed up development of new digital technology healthcare solutions. Total project costs must range in size from £300,000 to £1 million. The percentage of funding received varies according to the type of organisation the applicant is applying from and the type of research they are carrying out.

    Applicants must first register via the IUK website prior to making a full application.

    Applications must be submitted by noon on 18 April 2018.

  • Augmented Intelligence Competition for AI & Robotics Start-ups

    The BT Infinity Labs Augmented Intelligence Competition has been established to find the best digital talent in machine learning, robotics and artificial intelligence. The programme is looking for small companies with big ideas that can be turned into real life solutions across the public, defence or retail sectors.

    The competition will reward businesses that can apply thinking to real-world challenges across one or more of the following topics:

    • Digital Public Services
    • Digital Defence Enablement
    • Digital Retail

    There is a £30,000 prize pot to be divided between the start-ups selected in each of the three categories. The selected start-ups will also have the chance to work with BT and its partners in advancing their businesses and growing their product.

    Each winner will receive the prize consisting of:

    • six months’ flex membership at a TechHub site for four members of the winning Team;
    • product placement of the entry in the London Infinity Lab and in other BT showcases;
    • the entry and the Team being featured on certain BT portal(s);
    • six months of access to BT technical and commercial mentors (subject to negotiation and availability); and
    • a monetary amount of £10,000.

    UK-based small tech companies and start-ups with a passion for solving problems using Augmented Intelligence will be eligible to apply.

    Colm O’Neill, managing director of BT Business and Public Sector, said:

    “Last year, our research found that AI had divided the opinions of IT decision makers over whether it would replace or create jobs. With that in mind, we launched this year’s Infinity Labs competition with the theme ‘Augmented Intelligence,’ as we believe there’s still work to do to demonstrate that automated technologies and business processes can play to the strengths of both people and machines.”

    The deadline for applications to be received is 12 March 2018.

    For more information please click HERE.

  • The Seed Fund Opens for 2018 Showcasing UK Food Start-ups

    The Seed Fund was established by food brand experts, The Collaborators, in 2013 and is supported by a range of PR, social marketing and private equity firms.

    Now in its fifth year, the Seed Fund supports new food brands in the UK to become successful and inspiring businesses. The key aim of the Fund is to help start-ups and small producers in UK grow and flourish within the food and beverage sector.

    The Fund is looking for applications from small producers in the UK who have been awarded a great taste award in the previous year as well as start-ups that have been trading for less than four years. The overall winner will receive a year’s worth of support from an expert team of Seed Fund mentors as well as £100,000 worth of branding and marketing development from The Collaborators.

    A total of 12 companies will be selected for The Seed Fund Academy. This is a series of workshops, mentoring sessions and talks that will take place throughout the country over the course of the summer season. A variety of industry experts will host the academy, which will cover a wide spectrum of disciplines such as social media, marketing, raising finance and food photography.

    The next deadline for applications is 30 April 2018.

    For more information please click here.

  • January 2018 sector competition: strand 1, health and life sciences

    Innovate UK will invest in a share of up to £19 million in innovation projects that inspire new products, processes and services. These should address challenges in health and life sciences (H&LS).

    A further £12 million is available to fund Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs).

    Projects must show significant innovation in one of our priority areas:

    • increasing agricultural productivity
    • improving food quality and sustainability
    • advanced therapies (cell and gene therapies)
    • precision medicine
    • medicines discovery
    • advanced biosciences

    This competition has 2 strands. This is the health and life sciences strand. The other strand is emerging and enabling.

    Proposals must show how projects will enable a significant change in competitiveness and productivity for at least one UK SME involved in the project.

    If your project size falls outside of our scope, contact us before you apply.

    Project size

    Your project’s total costs should be between £50,000 and £2 million. Projects should last between 6 months and 24 months. Projects lasting up to 12 months should start by August 2018, and projects up to 24 months should start by December 2018.

    UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £19 million to develop innovations in health and life sciences or emerging and enabling technologies. A further £12 million is available for KTPs.

    Competition opens: Monday 22 January 2018

    Competition closes: Wednesday 28 March 2018 12:00pm

    For more information and to apply please click HERE

  • DepicT! Filmmaking Competition - 2018 Call for Entries

    DepicT! is an international short film competition which seeks to unearth up-and-coming film-making talent in the UK.

    The contest is open to applications from film-makers with productions that last no longer than 90 seconds but still manage to show originality, imagination and the ability to engage audiences. Films can focus on a wide range of genres, including animation, documentary, drama, experimental or artist film and hybrid work.

    The competition carries the following prizes in 2018:

    • Main DepicT! Award – £1,500 cash + Lifetime membership to Shooting People
    • DepicT! Royal Photographic Society Cinematography Award – £1,000 cash
    • DepicT! British Special Mention Award – A special package of support which will both promote the winning 90-second film and further develop the filmmaker’s skills including:
      • A tailored package of industry support from BAFTA, including a mentoring session and six months’ free access to BAFTA’s Learning & Events programme
      • A place on a short course at the National Film and Television School
      • Lifetime membership to Shooting People, plus e-mentoring from senior SP members
    • DepicT! Random Acts Special Mention Award – A unique opportunity to be featured on Channel 4’s Random Acts platform and a chance to pitch for a new Random Acts commission
    • Shooting People Audience Award – Lifetime membership to Shooting People

    All DepicT! Shortlisted entrants will get:

    • film exposure and promotion through, at Encounters Short Film & Animation Festival and through associated partners;
    • an Encounters Network Delegates pass with all the trimmings, including tickets to the popular DepicT! showcase and the prestigious Encounters Awards Ceremony; and
    • half price Shooting People membership.

    Film-makers in the UK may apply.

    The deadline for entries to the 2018 competition is 5pm on Monday 2 July 2018.

    Please visit to learn more about the competition.