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.

  • Carbon Trust’s £9.2 Million Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator - First Competition Open

    The Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator (IEEA) has been established to help strengthen the global competitiveness of British industry. First trailed in January 2017 by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the new four-year programme will fund a range of demonstration projects designed to reduce the cost of energy efficient technologies and extend the suite of energy-saving options available to industrial firms.

    The Carbon Trust, which is administering the programme, is encouraging industrial companies to apply in collaboration with technology developers. A ‘fast track’ process will be available for those businesses already engaged with a technology developer and looking for funding and advice to help run a demonstration project.

    The Accelerator also aims to address both technical and commercial challenges by providing tailored incubation support and co-funding to technology developers and start-ups to drive UK expertise, exports and jobs.

    The programme has an overall budget of £9.2 million. Technology developers can access co-funding of between £150,000 and £750,000, to support several demonstration projects, focusing on energy-saving technologies, across the UK. It is anticipated that between 15 and 25 pilot projects will be selected through the competitive application process to receive funding and implementation advice.

    The programme is open to all sectors in the UK and is technology-neutral, targeting near-commercial innovations that will have the largest cross-sectoral impact on industrial energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions.

    The technology must be ready to install, however, if it is not yet ready applicants can wait until that is the case and then apply if there is funding remaining.

    The first competition is now open. The deadline for applications is 31 January 2018, however, this is not a hard deadline; rather the deadline is flexible.

    For more information please click here: Competition

  • Digital Awards

    The Essex Digital Awards celebrates online business and innovation. Gain some recognition for your organisation’s digital capability and apply to the Essex Digital Awards!

    You can apply to any and multiple categories for free.

    For categories and to apply click here: Digital Awards

    Applications close on the 9 February 2018.

  • £50,000 Competition Launched to Boost Food & Drink Business Innovation

    Provided by Defra, the Food Innovation Network Innovation Vouchers programme will operate as a one-off competition, connecting food businesses with academia. The aim is to encourage business collaborations to stimulate the development of new ideas that could provide solutions to industry-identified challenges within the food sector.

    Micro, small and medium-sized food and drink businesses will be able to compete for funding through this competition by pitching their innovative projects to a ‘dragons’ den’ style panel of industry and technical experts.

    The programme has a total budget of £50,000 and it will support at least 10 innovative feasibility study and R&D projects with a 50% grant of up to £5,000 each.

    Projects should have relevance and show value across the food and drink supply chain, with clearly identified impact on the food processing and manufacturing industries. The funding can be used to facilitate access to expertise and know-how, testing out ideas (including access to kit/facilities) or building partnerships.

    The winners will be those who demonstrate their ideas are novel, achievable and support business growth. The money will allow food producers to invest in a range of innovative projects, such as reducing the use of water in growing vegetables, and creating new business opportunities.

    Food Minister George Eustice said:

    “Our thriving food and drink industry needs to be innovative in order to be resilient and globally competitive.

    Some of our most innovative food businesses are smaller companies and each has unique challenges, from prolonging the shelf life of their products to developing new sources of protein.

    “This new fund is aimed at helping support small businesses with a bright idea to develop their concepts in partnership with researchers or academic institutions.”

    The deadline for receipt of applications is 12 January 2018.

    For more information please click here: COMPETITION

  • Innovation loans to demonstrate infrastructure systems: apply now

    The aim of this new Innovate UK (IUK) competition is to offer loans to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) overcome barriers to scaling up innovation in infrastructure systems. It will enable businesses to demonstrate first commercial deployment at scale and take their innovations to market by proving that:

    • the innovation delivers the expected outcomes;
    • there is a clear market opportunity for the business; and
    • applicants are ready to scale up their business and their innovation.

    Projects must show significant late stage innovation and clearly show how they are working with end users and problem owners. Projects should be in one of the following priority areas:

    • Smart infrastructure
    • Urban living
    • Energy supply and systems
    • Connected transport

    Projects should focus on later stage R&D activities classified as experimental development. IUK expects applicants to be able to show a clear route to commercial success for their project and to demonstrate that the solution delivers the real world outcome it was designed for.

    IUK has allocated up to £10 million to make loans to suitable SMEs to fund innovation projects in this competition. It will offer individual loans of between £100,000 and £1 million; however, it may consider larger loans on an exceptional basis.

    This is a First of a Kind loans competition for infrastructure systems and it is open to applications from UK-based SMEs carrying out a project in the UK.

    The final date for registrations is midday on 10 January 2018. Full applications will need to be submitted by midday on 17 January 2018.

    For more information please click here: Loans

  • Start-up Challenge Business Competition

    The Start-up Challenge Business Competition has been established to support aspiring entrepreneurs aged 16-30 years old. It offers participants an opportunity to win up to £10,000 of investment to start their own business or grow an existing one.

    Shortlisted candidates will be invited to The Pitch; a Dragons’ Den style online pitch. A panel of judges will vote on the best pitches and the entrepreneur(s) with the best idea will be invited to go through to the Youngtrepreneurs Boot Camp, where they will meet the other finalists, be taught by existing successful entrepreneurs on business start-up and go through enterprise challenges.

    Aspiring entrepreneurs aged 16-30 years old in the UK who are looking to set up a business or expand an existing enterprise may enter.

    Applicants must submit a business idea proposal by 17 December 2017.

    Within their application, applicants are asked to provide a breakdown of how they would spend up to £10,000 including the returns they can make.

    For more information and to apply click here: The Start-Up Challenge

  • Electric Vehicle Charging, Sustainable Energy Solutions SBRI Competition - Phase One Open

    Innovate UK (IUK) operates Small Business Research Initiatives (SBRIs) to stimulate innovative solutions to challenges faced by the public sector. This SBRI competition is designed to support the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government which sets out new targets and objectives for both carbon reduction and electric vehicles (EVs).

    To achieve these, Edinburgh needs an integrated innovation energy solution that can cater for future mass market potential. This competition will therefore support the development of an integrated and scalable low carbon electric vehicle (EV) charging solution.

    Projects should offer smart grid, storage and generation capabilities, to overcome the current limitations imposed by EV charging infrastructure. The solution should incorporate renewable on-site generation, battery storage, bi-directional smart meters and an innovative software system. Each of the technological components should complement one another. This will create a closed-loop, innovative EV charging solution with smart grid, vehicle-to-grid and capacity management capabilities.

    This competition has two phases. In phase one, R&D contracts will be awarded to demonstrate the technical feasibility of the proposed solution. The total fund value of phase one is £80,000. It is anticipated that projects will range in size up to total costs of £20,000 per applicant. Up to four projects will be funded for a period of up to six months. A decision to proceed with phase two will depend on the outcomes from the first phase. Only successful applicants from phase one will be able to take part in phase two.

    Business organisations of any size may apply. They may work alone or with other organisations in the business, research base or third sector. Applications are welcome from organisations that bring together a consortium of sector specialists.

    Applicants must register their interest by midday on 7 February 2018.

    Competition opens 4 December 2017
    Briefing event 8 January 2018
    Final date for competition registration Midday 7 February 2018
    Submission of full application
    including appendices
    Midday 14 February 2018
    Decision to applicants 30 April 2018
    Contracts awarded 31 May 2018
    Feedback provided 31 May 2018

    For more information please click HERE

  • Open Sector Funding Competition Round 4 for Cutting Edge Innovations

    This competition is open to the best business-led cutting-edge or disruptive ideas or concepts with a view to commercialisation.

    These can come from any technology (including arts, design, media or creative industries) and apply to any part of the economy.

    They can fit into, or be outside of, any one or more of Innovate UK’s 4 priority sectors for growth.

    Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTPs) applications are welcome. There is a further £14 million of funding available for KTP applications.

    Where appropriate, we will share application details with other potential public sector co-funders.

    Competition information

    • the competition opens on 11 December 2017, and the deadline for applications is 28 February 2018
    • projects must be led by a business working alone or with other organisations or reasearchers
    • we expect projects to range in size from £25,000 to £1 million depending on the type of research, and to last between 6 months and 36 months
    • businesses could attract up to 70% of their total project costs