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.

  • 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

  • £20 Million Hydrogen Supply Competition for Energy Business Innovators

    The government has announced a £20 million boost for businesses embracing the potential for a future UK hydrogen economy. Hydrogen fuel is a safe and low-carbon alternative for energy in buildings, industry and transport, however, it is currently extremely costly to produce and transport.

    This is the latest clean technology to receive government funding, as a result of the Clean Growth Strategy.

    The £20 million Hydrogen Supply Programme will look to significantly reduce the high cost of producing large volumes of low carbon hydrogen, so that the technology can become a competitive, clean energy supply of the future.

    The competition aims to accelerate the development of a lower cost low carbon bulk hydrogen supply (with a focus on UK production). This will be achieved through two phases:

    1. Developing several hydrogen process engineering designs, alongside a supply / production plan, which details the development steps needed for each process.
    2. A development phase which will demonstrate key components or further develop the design of the new hydrogen production process.

    Energy and Clean Growth Minister, Claire Perry, said:

    “Clean, green and safe, hydrogen has an exciting role to play powering the UK but needs to be cheaper and more widely available to live up to its potential. [This] £20 million funding boost, part of our modern Industrial Strategy, will help to address these challenges so that we can sustain the exciting momentum building in our low carbon hydrogen economy, creating high-value jobs up and down the country.

    “Clean Growth is at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy and creates huge opportunities for the UK, securing our place as global leaders in this field.”

    Details of how to apply will be reported when they become available.

    If you are interested in applying to the programme, please email

  • UK Social Enterprise Awards 2018

    Applications are now open for the 2018 UK Social Enterprise Awards. The Awards recognise organisations for their business excellence and contribution to society, as well as the achievements of people working at the heart of the sector. All social enterprises can apply, and there are specific categories that investors, corporates, public sector bodies and charities may also apply for.

    Winners will be announced at an Awards ceremony and gala dinner in a central London venue on Wednesday 28 November. There are fourteen categories in total and this year we’ve added a new one, the ‘Employee Engagement’ Award.

    Click here to read the eligibility criteria before completing the application form.

    To apply please CLICK HERE.

    Any questions? If you have any questions or queries about the Awards, please email the team at

  • Design and trial smart energy systems: apply for funding

    Innovate UK has up to £41.5 million to invest in both the design and practical demonstration of new business models that intelligently link supply, storage and demand in heating, power and transport.

    There are 2 parts to this competition. Up to £40 million is available for 3 smart energy system demonstrators, while up to £1.5 million is available for studies into new, smarter approaches to local energy.

    Competition information

    • the competition is open, and the deadline for applications is at midday on 25 July 2018
    • projects can be led by a business, university, public sector organisation or a research and technology organisation working with others. They must include at least one SME, one academic organisation and a local authority or equivalent organisation
    • you must carry out at least 90% of your project work in the UK and exploit the results here
    • grant funding for each project is expected to be £13 million or higher, with total project costs between £26 million and £160 million. We expect them to last between 24 and 26 months
    • business could attract up to 45% of their project costs

    For more information please click HERE

  • Competitions for Businesses and Research Organisations Working with Connected and Autonomous Vehicles

    The Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), in partnership with Meridian Mobility and Innovate UK (IUK); part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), have launched two new funding competitions for businesses and research organisations undertaking projects in the UK that focus on connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV).

    The aim is to create the world’s most effective CAV testing ecosystem.

    Meridian 2: Connected Vehicles Data Exchange’ is intended to create the world’s best-connected vehicles data exchange or trading platform. The project will facilitate the exchange of data to test, develop, demonstrate and exploit CAV opportunities. IUK will fund investment aid for research infrastructure projects only.

    Meridian 3: Autonomous Highway, Rural and Parking Test Facilities’ is intended to create the second phase of the UK connected and autonomous vehicle test ‘ecosystem’. This should be located in the defined geographical area, between the West Midlands and the South East of England. Projects will be supported through investment aid for research infrastructures.

    Through the competitions, investment will be provided, totalling up to:

    • £5 million for a single project to develop one or more platforms for the exchange of connected vehicle data; and
    • £25 million to develop CAV testing infrastructure for autonomous parking and autonomous driving on rural roads and highways.

    The competitions build on the projects funded in 2017 as part of Meridian 1 (known at the time as Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Test Bed).

    Businesses of any size or research organisations, based in and carrying out a project in the UK, can lead a project. Applicants can work in collaboration with other businesses, research organisations or third sector organisations.

    Both competitions are now open, with a deadline for registrations of midday on 29 August 2018.

    The final closing date falls a week later, at midday on 5 September 2018.

  • IUK Announces Plastics Innovation: Towards Zero Waste Competition

    Innovate UK (IUK) is the UK’s innovation agency and, as part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) works with people, companies and partner organisations to de-risk, enable and support innovation, and promote UK economic growth.

    Through this competition, IUK is will invest in innovation projects to reduce the harm that plastics do to the environment and increase productivity and the growth of the UK economy. The aim is to support innovative activities that result in less persistent plastic waste in the environment. This can be achieved by developing new polymers, processes, designs, recycling regimes, value-added recyclate or bio-alternatives.

    IUK has allocated up to £4 million to fund innovation projects in this competition. A project’s total costs should be between £50,000 and £1 million.

    UK-based businesses of any size, academic organisations, charities, public sector organisations or research and technology organisations (RTOs) may apply. (All projects must involve a micro, small or medium-sized enterprise.)

    Projects with costs:

    • of under £100,000 can be single or collaborative but must be led by an SME;
    • of £100,000 or more must be collaborative and involve an SME.

    IUK is looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets and technological maturities. These may include feasibility studies, industrial research projects or experimental development projects.

    Projects must start by 1 December 2018 and end by 31 December 2020 and last between three months and two years.

    The competition opens on Monday 18 June 2018 with a deadline for applications to be received of midday on Wednesday 8 August 2018.

  • SBRI: smart waste tracking data collection, storage and reporting services

    UK householders and businesses generate around 200 million tonnes of waste each year. Nationally and globally, waste presents a real challenge.

    The current situation is of a fragmented set of policies, regulation and processes, and IT systems across the UK. Businesses deal with multiple duplicated processes and regulatory requirements, generating millions of pieces of paper or electronic records, yet still there are significant data gaps.

    The government is developing an updated strategy on resources which will be published in 2018. This will set out details of how we will meet the ambitions for resources and waste in the Clean Growth StrategyIndustrial Strategy and the 25 Year Environment Plan.

    Defra’s challenge is to use digital technology to record and track individual movements of waste through the economy. We aim to know more about the types and amounts of waste generated, what is done to it, and where it ends up. An innovative solution could help maximise the value we extract from our resources and boost innovation and productivity whilst minimising damage to the environment. This includes tackling waste crime, which has estimated costs to England of £604 million in 2015.

    This is phase 1 of a 2-phase competition. During phase 2, additional funding may be released of up to £1 million to continue development and test a prototype.

    Project size

    We expect to fund up to 5 projects for up to 3 months. Projects should range in size up to total costs of £80,000, including VAT, per organisation under phase 1, and be expected to start by 31 October 2018.

    For more information please click HERE.


    18 July 2018 Registration closes

    25 July 2018 Competition close

  • UK Research and Innovation strength in places fund

    This funding scheme takes a place-based approach to research and innovation funding to support significant regional economic growth.

    Projects must be based on:

    • Activities that bring significant, relative economic impact and regional growth relative to the baseline economic activity for the defined or relevant geographic area
    • Existing research excellence and high-quality innovation capability that focus on creating opportunities for economic growth

    Eligible activities include:

    • Assessing the potential for demand for the new technology and the potential for scale up
    • Drawing in overseas research and development or business
    • Providing the capacity to commercialise ideas
    • Reviving underlying technologies
    • Transferring technologies between industries

    Who can apply – organisations must be both:

    • A business or a publicly funded research organisation (University, Research Institutes, Catapult and other Research Technology Organisation (RTO))
    • A member of a consortium that includes at least one business and one research organisation

    Maximum grant: £50,000 (for expressions of interest. Successful bidders will be able to apply for up to £50 million in their full stage proposal)

    Deadline: 25 July 2018

    For more information please click HERE.

  • Plastics innovation: towards zero waste

    Innovate UK is seeking to support innovative activities that result in less persistent plastic waste in the environment.

    The aim of the competition is to support innovation with the potential to deliver circular economy approaches to plastic use (including for polymer-based textiles and elastomers). For example, this could include:

    • Behaviour focussed innovation to reduce plastic waste
    • Developing new polymer materials
    • Increasing the value of recycled polymer
    • New product designs
    • New recycling processes

    Who can apply: UK based business, academic, charity, public sector organisation or research and technology organisations (RTO)

    All projects must involve an SME. Only an SME can lead projects with costs below £100,000.

    Maximum grant: £1 million

    Applications open 18 June and close 8 August 2018

    For more information please click HERE.

  • EEF Photography Competition

    The EEF Photography Competition has opened for 2018, with a mission to garner images that present a picture of contemporary 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 engaging and inspiring photography which reflects today’s modern UK manufacturing sector.

    Images can be of 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 for 2018: ‘Celebrating Everyday Manufacturing’.

    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 under 20 in the United Kingdom.

    The deadline for entries is 30 September 2018.

    For more information please click HERE.

  • Competitions for Transforming Accountancy, Insurance and Legal Services with AI and Data

    The UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK (IUK), which is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), is investing up to £12 million in innovation projects to support the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and data technologies.

    The ‘Transforming Accountancy, Insurance and Legal Services with AI and Data’ competitions are part of the Next Generation Services Challenge, created with funding from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF).

    Projects should aim to transform these three target sectors, where there is an imminent threat from overseas competition:

    1. Accountancy
    2. Insurance
    3. Legal services

    This is a joined-up national innovation programme, supporting projects from applied research, through feasibility studies to experimental development. The aim is to speed up the responsible adoption of AI and data technologies and solutions to transform the above-mentioned sectors.

    There are two strands to this competition:

    1. Large consortia projects: addressing common, sector-wide challenges requiring a coordinated approach across, for example, supply chains or regulators. These projects can include academic researchers in social sciences, humanities, computer science and mathematics. Projects need to show significant transformational impact on the sector. IUK is expecting to fund between £8 million and £10 million of grants in this strand. Total project costs should be between £2 million and £4 million.
    2. Smaller projects: aiming to apply AI and data techniques in new ways within accountancy, insurance and legal services. These smaller projects can be from single companies or small consortia. IUK is expecting to fund between £2 million and £4 million of grants in this strand. Total project costs should be up to £400,000.

    All projects should show how they will address challenges which will delay or adversely impact adoption. For example, this can include issues around ethics, privacy, bias and transparency and how people’s acceptance and behaviours will affect the service transformation.

    Applications can be submitted by a UK-based business, academic, charity, public sector organisation or research and technology organisation (RTO), working in collaboration with one or more organisations in the UK. Note: SMEs can work alone.

    Both competitions are now open with a deadline for applications of midday on 15 August 2018.

  • Regulators' Pioneer Fund

    The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will invest up to £10 million over 2 years in regulator-led projects.

    The competition’s aim is to promote cutting-edge regulatory practices to help make the UK the world’s most innovative economy, whilst protecting citizens and the environment.

    Projects must:

    • help businesses bring innovative products and services to market and demonstrate evidence of demand for change
    • align to the Industrial Strategy ‘Grand Challenges’ or otherwise support the Industrial Strategy ambition for the UK to be the world’s most innovative economy
    • demonstrate value for money and include matched funding if possible
    • be collaborative and bring together multiple bodies to address ‘cross-cutting’ issues that affect several regulators
    • show potential for lasting benefits beyond the duration of the project with plans to scale up and spread best practice

    For more information and to apply please click HERE


    5 July 2018 Competition opens

    12 July 2018 London briefing event

    14 August 2018 12:00pm Competition closes

    28 September 2018 Applicants notified

  • Discovering Start-Ups Competition

    Discovering Start-Ups is a competition bringing together industry expertise and offering assistance to new-start technology companies. Start-ups from around the UK are invited to enter and pitch their enterprise to a panel of judges, where they will have the opportunity to win a selection of prizes to help boost their new business.

    The 2018 competition, which carries the theme ‘Connecting the Digital World’ takes place in September in London. It provides a platform for entrepreneurs to pitch their start-ups to investors, venture capitalists and global corporate leaders.

    The Discovering Start-Ups 2018 Final will feature an Exhibition with judges rotating between start-up pitching stations and the opportunity of 1:1 follow-ups later in the day.

    Prizes include:

    • Scheduled introductions to elite technology investors.
    • A stand in the Discovering Start-Ups Exhibition.
    • Professional training on how to pitch to investors during the Finalist Acceleration Workshop.
    • One year’s membership of Cambridge Wireless (CW).
    • Exposure in the CW Journal (both print and online) and other press.
    • One free video created by Beyond Media

    More prizes will be added as 2018 sponsors are confirmed.

    The competition is open to UK-based technology developers or providers of software, hardware or IT services.

    To enter please click HERE

    For more information please click HERE

    Applications must be submitted by midday on Monday 6 August 2018.

  • Global Business Accelerator Programme to Singapore

    Innovate UK’s Singapore Global Business Accelerator Programme, delivered by Enterprise Europe Network, is targeted at innovative UK SMEs involved in cross-cutting AI & Digital technologies, who want to showcase their innovations and what they can offer at TECHINNOVATION 2018 and Singapore’s Week of Innovation and TeCHnology (SWITCH).


    Please click here to register for the event.

    On registering you will be emailed the application form, which needs to be submitted by 18:00 GMT on Friday the 27th of July 2018.

    And for more information please click HERE:

  • Open Grant Funding Competition: Round Two

    Innovate UK (IUK) is the UK’s innovation agency and, as part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), works with people, companies and partner organisations to de-risk, enable and support innovation, and promote UK economic growth.

    IUK’s vision is to help the UK economy grow over and above other nations by inspiring and supporting pioneering UK businesses to create the industries of the future. The Open Grant Funding Competition is designed to help businesses develop cutting-edge ideas for innovative new products and services that could have an economic impact on the UK economy.

    This competition is open to the best ideas or concepts with a view to commercialisation. These can come from any area of technology, science or engineering, including arts, design, media or creative industries. Proposals can fit into, or be outside of, one or more of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund areas.

    Projects can focus on disruptive and game-changing ideas in any sector of the economy. They can be of various kinds, from small feasibility studies to longer industrial research or experimental development projects. Priority will be given to proposals that are likely to lead to sustainable gains in productivity or access to new overseas markets through export-led business growth.

    IUK has allocated up to £20 million to fund innovation projects through grants in this Open competition. IUK expects projects to range in size between £25,000 and £2 million and for them to last between 6 and 36 months.

    To lead a project, applicants must be a UK-based business of any size or a research and technology organisation (RTO). The project must be undertaken in, and exploit results from, the UK. Applicants may work alone or in collaboration with others (businesses, research base and third sector).

    The competition is now open with a deadline for applications of midday on 12 September 2018.

  • Developing Responsive Rural Community Connections SBRI Competition

    The UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK (IUK) works with people, companies and partner organisations to de-risk, enable and support innovation, and promote UK economic growth. ‘Developing Responsive Rural Community Connections’ is one of IUK’s Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competitions, established with funding provided by the GovTech Catalyst.

    The challenge consists of three parts, which can be incremental:

    1. How to reduce loneliness for older people, who are currently digitally excluded, using technology that is inclusive, accessible and intuitive.
    2. How to co-ordinate transport more efficiently to increase citizens’ ability to travel in rural areas while reducing public subsidy.
    3. How to better connect people in rural areas to improve wellbeing and reduce pressure on the health and social care systems while improving service efficiency.

    Potential bidders can address one or more parts to be piloted with specific user groups through phase 1 R&D. IUK welcomes opportunities that bring the three challenge areas together where the proposed solution allows.

    This competition is open to UK organisations of any type and size, from any sector, including businesses and the research community. To lead a project the applicant can work alone or with others from business, the research base or the third sector as subcontractors. Applicants will work with end users and test their prototypes in Monmouthshire; a rural county in South East Wales.

    The GovTech Fund will provide up to £1.25 million for solutions that combat loneliness by enabling communities to help each other in digitally and transport deprived areas. This competition has two phases. IUK has allocated up to £250,000 for phase 1 and up to £1 million for phase 2.

    Phase 1: technical feasibility

    This study should result in a technical and commercial specification and detailed design package for a digital solution. The first phase involves feasibility study research and development (R&D) contracts being awarded up to £50,000, including VAT. This is for each project to demonstrate technical feasibility of the proposed solution.

    Phase 2: prototype development and evaluation

    Phase 2 should result in a prototype installation to test functionality. This second phase involves up to 2 R&D contracts being awarded to businesses chosen from the successful phase 1 applicants. Up to £500,000, including VAT, will be allocated for each contract, in order to develop a prototype and undertake testing for up to 12 months.

    The competition is now open with a registration deadline of midday on 29 August 2018 and a deadline for full applications a week later, at midday on 5 September 2018.

    For more information and to apply please click HERE.